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Carroll County school board gets first look at Tech Center designs, talks possible vote on plan this month

In this file photo, Westminster High School senior Julie Plunkert earned a gold medal in Cosmetology in the SkillsUSA Maryland State Leadership and Skills Championships where students from the Carroll County Career and Technology Center brought home 37 medals.
In this file photo, Westminster High School senior Julie Plunkert earned a gold medal in Cosmetology in the SkillsUSA Maryland State Leadership and Skills Championships where students from the Carroll County Career and Technology Center brought home 37 medals. (Dylan Slagle / Carroll County Times file)

A decision on what schematic design to move forward with for a future Career and Technology Center project could come next week.

The Carroll County Public Schools Board of Education was presented with three potential plans — and a potential add-on to the third plan — that would add additional space to the Tech Center as well as some renovations that would allow for courses to be brought up to industry standards.

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Bill Eckles, Tech Center principal, said Wednesday at a school board work session that over time, the school has moved classrooms and changed spaces trying to maximize what is there. But, something needs to be done.

“Where we are now, the shop spaces are not adequate for the programs we’re trying to present,” he said, adding, what was considered industry standard in the 1960s is not industry standard now.

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School board members agreed to move forward with a likely vote next week at the November BOE meeting on the third plan — which comes with the potential add-on.

Plan C would come in at $59,117,745, which is under the $60 million previously approved by the Board of County Commissioners. This option would come with an addition of 97,542 square feet, plus renovation of 45,083 square feet. The project would take place from summer 2020 through summer 2023.

The potential add-on for this plan comes at a just over $10 million larger price tag, but would include a 98,778-square-foot addition and 76,512 square feet of renovation, a plan that would meet all education specifications, a shorter construction duration and flexibility to address future needs by dealing with the wait list or adding future programs.

The first plan, which the school board decided not to move forward with, would add 28,008 square feet of an addition and renovate a bit more than 114,183 square feet, according to the plan. That option came in under the $60 million budget, at $56,519,627. This plan would take longest, running from summer 2019 through summer 2025.

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The Carroll County Career and Technology Center project, roofing and HVAC projects and a nondescript project for East Middle and William Winchester Elementary schools are the big-ticket items in this year’s Capital Improvement Plan request for Carroll County Public Schools.

The second plan, also one the school board had less interest in, also came in under budget at $59,163,450, and would offer a 55,376-square-foot addition and 111,229-square-foot renovation. This plan would run from summer 2020 through summer 2023.

The board talked about ways to potentially fund the third plan plus the add-on through different ways of bidding out projects — bidding on a base project, or Plan C, and then having other bids for different portions of the add on, dubbed Plan C Plus.

Jon O’Neal, assistant superintendent of administration, said this was possible, and was the approach the school system took a while back when it built Mount Airy Middle School.

And while the board made no decisions on a final plan to go with, there was talk of making sure this project was done the right way, and wasn’t short-sighted.

Commissioner Richard Weaver, R-District 2, in particular called for making sure the project was done well.

“If we’re going to do this, we have to do something that’s right when we do it,” he said Wednesday.

Weaver said he’s concerned about moving forward with a short-sighted project, because the county will grow, and there are going to be more and more students who will want to participate.

The committee, which began meeting last year and was tasked at looking at program needs in the Tech Center, has completed its report.

Board Vice President Donna Sivigny said she thought there were some “no-brainers” in the options presented, but did ask if there should be any concern over not getting state participation for the project.

Ray Prokop, director of the CCPS facilities management department, was not necessarily concerned, because Maryland is a state that is “very interested in career and tech.”

Board member Devon Rothschild was ready to call for a vote Wednesday night. Sivigny wanted a little more time.

The board agreed to bring up the issue next week in hopes of making a final decision prior to the new board being seated. Come December, Rothschild, BOE President Bob Lord and member Virginia Harrison will all leave the board, and new members Tara Battaglia, Patricia Ann Dorsey and Kenny Kiler will join.

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