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New classrooms sooner in Thurmont

Ingrid Mezo

(5/5) Thurmont Primary School may get an addition one year early if Frederick County commissioners vote to bump up the project later this month.

Commissioners will have final discussions on the county’s Capital Improvements Program on May 16.

The school opened in 2001, and an addition was scheduled for fiscal 2008. County officials may reconsider that after the state awarded $1 million to the project for fiscal 2007, which begins July 1.

Thurmont Primary is at 105 percent of capacity this year and the school is using four portable classrooms, said Ray Barnes, facilities director for Frederick County Public Schools.

‘‘[Thurmont Primary has] exceeded capacity for the past year or so, and we’re expecting continued enrollment," Barnes said. ‘‘We think [the addition is] needed not just to meet current needs, but future needs."

The Frederick County Board of Education is requesting $5.6 million for the project from the county for fiscal 2007, according to a letter sent to county commissioners by Superintendent Linda D. Burgee.

‘‘Beginning the project one year sooner than now scheduled will help address current and future overcrowding problems at this school and reduce the number of portables needed to move to the site as temporary classrooms," Burgee said in the letter.

The design for the addition is complete, and construction could begin in late summer or early fall if county officials bump up the project, Barnes said.

‘‘We are looking at adding 12 classrooms," school principal Debra Myers said. ‘‘As a result of our full-day kindergarten, which was implemented last year, we increased our kindergarten classrooms from three to seven."

Myers explained that while the school could use three rooms to hold six classes in the past — because of half-day kindergarten sessions — going to full-day kindergarten means the school now uses seven classrooms for kindergarten students alone.

The four portables at the school are used for second-grade classes.

‘‘We will be using the new classrooms for first and second grade classrooms," Myers said. ‘‘As a result of growth, we require two specialists for [physical education] and art and music."

One of the new rooms in the addition will be used as a second art/music room, and another will be used for a computer room, she said.

If county commissioners approve adding the project to the fiscal 2007 budget, ‘‘we would try to have the building ready for students beginning in September 2007," Barnes said.

Commissioner Jan H. Gardner (D) said in a phone message Monday that the board is likely to bump up the project.

‘‘I do expect that the commissioners will give consideration to moving up the addition to Thurmont Primary to fiscal 2007 because we did receive the $1 million in funding from the state," Gardner said. ‘‘I do believe our budget will accommodate that shift."

Gardner said the state funding was more than county officials had expected.

‘‘And Thurmont Primary, since it got state funding, should be a winner in that process," she said.

If county officials vote against bumping up the project, the $1 million allocated to the project by the state would still be available, Barnes said.

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