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East Middle School.
East Middle School. (KEN KOONS/STAFF PHOTO/Carroll County Times)

The Carroll County school board has named its 20-member Construction Planning Committee for the replacement of East Middle School.

The committee is tasked with developing educational specifications for the project and must be provided with at least six months to complete those specifications, according to Carroll County Public Schools regulations.

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The committee will also provide input to the commissioned design team of the architect and engineers on topics including site and space planning, curricular needs and community use of buildings, according to county regulations.

During Wednesday’s Carroll County Board of Education meeting, board members Kenneth Kiler and Tara Battaglia agreed to serve on the committee.

Vice President Marsha Herbert requested that Kiler be one of the committee members because of his experience in Stewart & Tate Construction. Up to two members can serve on the committee before it becomes a quorum of school board members.

The committee includes six teachers from East Middle and three parents alongside Principal Jamie Carver.

From the school system, Director of Middle Schools Tom Hill, Supervisor of Special Education Christine Bechtel, Director of Facilities Management Raymond Prokop, Supervisor of Construction James Marks, and Facilities Planner William Caine are members of the committee.

Taylor Hockensmith, from the Carroll County Department of Management and Budget, and Jillian Storms, from the Maryland State Department of Education, will also be members of the committee.

According to the CCPS regulations, “The Planning Committee shall consist of at least one member of the Board of Education, Central Office personnel, principals, teachers, and a diversified group of lay-persons from the area involved.”

Westminster Mayor Joe Dominick attended Wednesday’s meeting. The city will also have a representative on the planning committee. Westminster officials asked to have a member on the committee because the project is still between two proposed sites: its current site or on the property of Friendship Valley Elementary School.

Forming a committee like this is standard practice for construction and major renovations on school system properties. The date for the committee’s first meeting and the schedule will be decided after teachers return to school for the year, Prokup said.

In July, the school board narrowed down the options for the school and decided on replacement of the aging building. Between forming the planning committee and bringing on an architect, a more specific cost for the project will take shape.

Construction would begin in the summer of 2021 and the new middle school would open at the start of the 2023-24 school year on an ideal timeline.

Superintendent Steve Lockard authorized a feasibility study for East Middle School to inform how the school system would go forward with modernization. The feasibility study found that the building is “aging and suffers from a combination of mechanical, electrical, plumbing, accessibility, and educational deficiencies.”

The study ultimately found that renovating the historic East Middle School would be more expensive than building a new one. The board determined that a K-8 facility, which was also proposed, wouldn’t have sufficient efficiency benefits to justify the extra upfront costs.

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