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Construction of East Middle School replacement in Westminster slated to begin in October

The proposed schematic site plan for the East Middle School Replacement Project was shown at the Carroll County Board of Education meeting Sept. 9, 2020.
The proposed schematic site plan for the East Middle School Replacement Project was shown at the Carroll County Board of Education meeting Sept. 9, 2020. (Screenshot)

With official designs complete for the East Middle School replacement project, construction on the site is slated to begin in October.

The new three-level structure will include close to 126,000 square feet, according to the schematic design plans. Once the new building is constructed, the existing building will be demolished and the rest of that site will be developed to complete the project.

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The existing school, located on Longwell Avenue in Westminster, will remain open during the construction.

At Thursday’s Carroll County Board of Commissioner meeting, Jonathan O’Neal, assistant superintendent of administration for Carroll County Public Schools, provided the board with a summary of where the project stands relative to construction.

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“We are poised to bring the construction award to the board of education at their next meeting,” scheduled for Aug. 11, he said. “We’re through all the final stages of design and preparation.”

The project was led by a design team and architect Jeff Hagan of Baltimore-based Hord Coplan Macht, Inc.

O’Neal said the original bid process ended up being $13 million over the nearly $60 million budget. So some parts of the building were redesigned to cut costs, especially where “a lot of steel was involved,” he said.

After working through solutions to narrow the gap, the new variance came out to $3.2 million.

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While site work will begin in October and be completed over a two-year construction period, O’Neal noted the difference would need to be remedied at some point.

Commissioner Stephen Wantz, R-District 1, mentioned Carroll is not the only jurisdiction building a school and suggested O’Neal work with them since they are “in the same boat” as the county.

“In some ways it feels good we’re not alone,” O’Neal said, mentioning others are also struggling with the rising cost of materials.

East Middle, located in Westminster, was considered for permanent closure by the county school board before Charles Carroll Elementary, New Windsor Middle, and North Carroll High schools were shut down after the 2015-16 school year.

Opened in 1936, the current building served as Westminster High School for some 35 years and has been a middle school for nearly 50 years.

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