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News Briefs

School headquarters among buildings eyed in facility review

News Briefs

9:31 PM EDT, August 18, 2012

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Board of County Commissioners President Doug Howard last week asked the Board of Education to add the Winchester Building — the headquarters building for the entire school system — to its list of buildings that will be reviewed for possible sale.

Howard made the request to the school board's Facilities Study Group, which is working to determine if money can be saved by reducing the number of facilities the school system operates.

Howard said he was concerned that the group would recommend closing one or more county schools without considering moving the central office staff to other sites available around the county.

He said the Winchester Building at 125 N. Court St., Westminster, is "more marketable than any school, and I don't want it left out of the discussion when schools are being considered for closure."

Howard has generally opposed the idea of closing schools, a move that he said would be, "educationally disruptive to students and cause turmoil to families."

"If we can continue to be one of the best school systems in the state by keeping our schools open and putting our central office staff closer to the instructional staff, then I think the idea should be considered," he said.

School officials began the study of school facilities — which includes a look at enrollment trends and projections — this year, and officials are expected to present a plan to the Board of County Commissioners in early 2013.

In June, Superintendent Steve Guthrie asked parents to complete a facility survey to help the school system decide how best to utilize space as student populations decline and budget constraints mount. The survey results will be used as part of the facility review.