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Runnymede to open when construction allows


When the Runnymede Elementary School building is ready for occupancy, students will move there no matter how late in the school year that is, says Superintendent R. Edward Shilling.

Mr. Shilling and school officials are waiting for the ground to thaw to assess the full damage done to the new school's wastewater treatment plant.

They don't know whether the school will be ready in a month, they say. Even if it's not until June, Mr. Shilling said, "when the school is ready, regardless of when that is, we're moving."

School officials have scheduled an informational meeting for Runnymede parents at 7 p.m. tomorrow at Northwest Middle School to discuss their plans.

Runnymede students have been attending the Taneytown Elementary School since September.

Their new school was to open then, but bad weather -- dating back to the blizzard in March -- pushed back the opening date to January, then February.

The ground froze around the first tank of the wastewater treatment plant that was built for the school.

The freeze caused the tank to heave and shear an aerating pipe attached to it.

Water in the tank also froze, and officials said they won't know how much damage lies under the frozen ground until it thaws enough so that workers can dig into it.

The school's prospective students include all children who last year went to Uniontown Elementary School and some who went to Taneytown Elementary.

Taneytown Elementary students are attending classes in rooms and portable classrooms nearby at Northwest Middle School. They will remain there while their school is renovated and expanded during the next year.

At a school board meeting last week, Mr. Shilling said he fully supports staff members, who are dealing with the Runnymede contractor, and teachers, who are trying to make do with the cramped quarters, and the lack of a library, gym, art room and other specialized areas.

"I visited probably every classroom [last week]," Mr. Shilling said. "I was very pleased with the staff and their ability to keep things going. It is not everything the staff would like it to be, but there was learning going on, and the staff is to be commended for that."

Asked whether he would have closed Uniontown last year if he had known the weather would cause such a late opening for Runnymede, he said, "Hindsight is always 20-20. You make a decision based on the best information you have at the time."

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