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Garrett school board rethinking building transfer

Debt remains for construction at former Dennett Road facility

Elaine Blaisdell Cumberland Times-News

OAKLAND — A decision whether to rescind a portion of a vote taken April 24 to transfer Dennett Road School to Garrett County government is on the Board of Education’s Tuesday meeting agenda. The transfer is being reconsidered because of a $140,214 construction debt that has eight years remaining, said Janet Wilson, superintendent of Garrett County schools.

“The board is looking at holding on to the building in light of debt. We are looking at ways in which the building could be used to enhance educational opportunities for all students,” said Wilson.

The business portion of the meeting, in the board’s central office, will be held at 6 p.m. Public comment is accepted at both 4 and 7 p.m.

After the board filed the necessary paperwork to transfer the school with the Maryland Public School Construction program and upon receipt of that paperwork, Robert Crocetti, director of finance, informed the board of the debt, according to Wilson.

“Crocetti notified us that there were two construction projects with remaining debt relative to the facility. The debt represented a 15-year Maryland state bond maturing in FY 2019,” said Wilson.

The debt was for two capital improvement projects — one in 2000 for wiring, with about $16,000 in debt remaining, and one in 2001 for a boiler, with about $106,804 in debt remaining. Interest applies in both projects.

“It was a good catch by Dr. Wilson not to transfer the building to the county,” said County Administrator Monty Pagenhardt.

The former Dennett Road school building could potentially be used for a maintenance building, for a shared (board and county) information technology department, a satellite food service or as a Head Start for Garrett Community Action, Pagenhardt said.

“The county didn’t have plans for the building but it was always in the back of our minds to use it as a maintenance facility,” said Pagenhardt.

The potential uses for the building will be presented during Tuesday’s meeting, Wilson said.

“The school will remain closed to student attendance,” she said.

Dennett Road and Kitzmiller elementary schools closed May 30, following the board’s April vote to do so in a cost-cutting measure. The county voted Tuesday to allow Garrett County Community Action Committee to continue to use the former Kitzmiller school for Head Start.

“The library is still currently utilizing the school (Kitzmiller) building. I know there is a request out by a group to use the building for an after-school program,” said commission chairman Jim Raley. “We have no certainty as to when the building is going to be transferred to us. We do have money in the budget to sustain the school for this particular school year because we anticipated that it would be turned over to us in a period of time.”

Also during Tuesday’s board meeting, Rodney Reckart, who was appointed to Rodney Durst’s District 3 seat on the board, will be administered the oath of office. Durst recently resigned his post.

Other agenda items include the awarding of school bus contracts; application for a public charter school; a food and nutrition services bid; an update on Yough Glades elementary school; a State Highway Administration archeological investigation and the Bethel School deed.

Contact Elaine Blaisdell at eblaisdell@times-news.com.

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