CUMBERLAND — School construction projects across the county, including the new Allegany High School, will continue in earnest in light of a proposal by Gov. Martin O’Malley for an $86 million increase for school construction projects statewide.
During a regular meeting of the board Tuesday, Vince Montana, director of facilities for the Allegany County Board of Education, said that O’Malley had made a proposal to increase the school construction budget.
“Today, the governor proposed to increase school construction funding to $336 million from $250 million. It looks good for our projects to be funded based on shear dollars,” said Montana.
The demolition of the old Sacred Heart Hospital complex to make way for the new Allegany High School is expected to begin this summer with an estimated cost of $2.1 million.
“We have received full proposals from three architectural firms for the design of the new school. Next Thursday, a meeting will be held with the committee to discuss the proposals,” said Montana.
A five member committee, which includes Montana, was formed to review plans during the various phases of the project.
“It’s great to hear,” said board member Mike Llewellyn. “We know when we have a project, we’re not the only ones going before the Board of Public Works. When there is more money in the pot, you’re more confident.”
School construction funding must go before a three person panel called the Board or Public Works which is made of the governor, comptroller and treasurer.
“The funding is done in phases,” said Llewellyn.
Although initial approval for the new Allegany High has been received, funding must be secured along the way.
“A request for phase one construction of Allegany will be made to the Board of Public Works on Jan. 23,” said Montana.
“We always go down to show support,” said Llewellyn.
The school is expected to be open and running by 2017.
“They are excited about it downstate. They are impressed that we cut this deal with the city, the county and the health system and entered into an agreement,” said Llewellyn.
The new Allegany High is not the only projects going on in the school system.
Among other project, currently new roofs are being put on Fort Hill High School, Mount Savage Elementary, Westmar Middle School and the Central Office of the board on Washington Street.
Having a school obtain funding is not without competition.
“Maryland had 505 requests for (construction project) funding this year for a total of $6.8 million,” said Montana.
Before a project can go before the Board of Public Works it must be recommended by the Maryland Interagency Committee on School Construction.
Montana said the increase in construction funding will have to be approved by the legislature.
Llewellyn asked Montana if the architectural plans for Allegany High will include a plan for demolition as well as a new school design.
“Yes, the demolition and design are bid together,” said Montana.
Montana also pointed out that tearing down the old Sacred Heart Hospital building built in 1965 will require asbestos removal.
“Asbestos removal will begin in March. It’s mainly vinyl asbestos floor tiles and pipe insulation,” said Montana.
Greg Larry can be contacted at email@example.com.