Cumberland Times-News

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March 13, 2013

Allegany school board receives funding for roof at Westmar

CUMBERLAND — The Allegany County Board of Education met Tuesday and announced it has received a commitment of $950,000 in state funding for a new roof on Westmar Middle School, but remains confident it will be able to secure the full $1.1 million needed for the project.

“I am confident we will be approved (for the $1.1 million) at the Board of Public Works (meeting) in May. It’s just the way the process works,” said Vince Montana, the board’s director of facilities.

A design for the new roof on Westmar Middle School will be sent to the state for review this week, according to Montana.

An update was given on the demolition of the old Western Maryland Health System’s Braddock campus. A new Allegany High School will be built on the site.

“We have submitted additional paperwork to the MDE (Maryland Department of the Environment) to propose a method of asbestos abatement,” said Montana.

In addition to the presence of asbestos in floor tiles and the masting, or glue, on the back of the tiles, small amounts of asbestos have been found in stucco on the outside of smokestacks at the site.

“We have to address that in our procedures to demolish the structure,” said Montana.

Montana also said an initial meeting was held with the architects of the new Allegany High School, Grimm & Parker of Calverton, to establish the approach and schedule for the design of the project. An open meeting is expected to be held in April for public input on the designs, Montana said.

 A decision was made by the board on how to redeem the six lost days incurred this school year due to weather events.

It was announced that three of the days, which were due to Superstorm Sandy, will not have to be made up.

“We have received an approval, due to Hurricane Sandy, for a waiver of three days declared by Gov. O’Malley as a statewide emergency,” said David Cox, superintendent of schools.

Two of the three remaining days will be reclaimed by having students attend school on April 4 and 5, previously spring break vacation time.

The third day will be made-up by changing the final day of the school year from June 5 to June 6. Previously, June 5, was to be a half day. June 5 will now be a full day and June 6 will be the final half day.

“I’m sorry that there isn’t going to be a full week of spring break. You are not going to make everyone happy with this,” said Sarah-Beth James, board member.

James acknowledged the difficulty the schedule changes create for those who have travel plans, but said students will be better served by being taught in April.

“I think there is a higher value of instructional time in April versus June. I worry about the heat in June,” said James.

Updates were given by several education officials on the transition in student testing from the Maryland School Assessments and High School Assessments to the new Partnership for the Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC testing.

PARCC is part of the newly adopted education standards in Maryland called the common core curriculum.

“The way kids are tested and assessed is dramatically different than before,” said Cox.

Cox said the new curriculum will be in place for the 2014/2015 school year.

“In 2014/2015 our students will no longer take MSA or HSA tests, but will take the PARCC assessment, which is a consortium of about half of the states,” said Cox.

The other states will be using the consortium known as Smarter Balance, according to Cox.

Cox said the teachers have been working hard to prepare for the new curriculum.

In other news, Claire Romaine, a junior at Mountain Ridge High School, is replacing Brooke Knieriem as the student representative on the board.

Greg Larry can be contacted at glarry@times-news.com.

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