Chas. Co. Board of Ed. Vote Changes Opening Date For New School; Delays Redistricting - Southern Maryland Headline News

Chas. Co. Board of Ed. Vote Changes Opening Date For New School; Delays Redistricting

LA PLATA, Md. (Sept. 26, 2017)—The Board of Education voted on Monday to delay the opening of Billingsley Elementary School for one year due to construction delays. The Board's vote delays the opening of the school and the accompanying redistricting of elementary school students until September 2019.

Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) staff updated the Board on the issues complicating the opening of Billingsley, which is under construction and originally scheduled to open at the beginning of the 2018-19 school year.

Along with the delay in opening the new elementary school, the elementary school redistricting scheduled to begin in the 2018-19 school year is postponed for one year. Students impacted by the elementary school redistricting decision will not change schools until the 2019-20 school year.

Assistant Superintendent of Supporting Services Michael Heim and Director of Planning and Construction Steve Andritz updated the Board on permitting, weather and site preparation delays that have put the construction behind schedule. The contractor has worked Saturdays and evenings to make up for lost time, Andritz said. Even with those efforts, the contractor estimates the job will not be finished until Nov. 15, 2018. The November 2018 timeline could change if there are additional weather delays.

Staff presented the Board three options. The contractor estimated it could cost $5.9 million to complete the school in time for an August 2018 opening. The extra funding would allow the contractor to run double shifts as well as construct protection for work areas requiring temperature control.

The second option, which would cost an additional $3.8 million, would provide portable classrooms adjacent to the school. Children would attend classes in the portables and use the school cafeteria for lunches. Students would relocate to the classrooms in the new school in January 2019.

The third option, which the Board accepted, would not result in extra funding and allow the contractor to complete the building in November 2018, but not open for staff and students until August 2019. This eliminates additional costs, removes the uncertainty of additional weather delays, provides staff time to fully prepare the school for students and minimizes disruption to children, Heim said.

"At the end of the day, it's a tradeoff between a year and $6 million. … And, there is no guarantee with $6 million it would open on time," said Board Chairman Michael Lukas.

Board members Virginia McGraw and Barbara Palko commented it is not in the best interest of children to relocate them to portables and then move them again midyear.

The Board voted 4-2 to delay the opening of the school with members Jennifer Abell and Victoria Kelly dissenting.

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