Fran­chot tours Greensboro Ele­men­tary

Times-Record - - Front Page - By ABBY AN­DREWS aan­drews@car­o­line­times­record.com

— Mary­land Comptroller Peter Fran­chot vis­ited Greensboro Ele­men­tary School on Mon­day, March 12, to see first­hand how crit­i­cal a pro­posed new school is to reliev­ing over­crowd­ing.

Caro­line County Public Schools Su­per­in­ten­dent Dr. Pa­tri­cia Sae­lens and Prin­ci­pal Dawn Swann hosted the tour along with Caro­line County com­mis­sion­ers Wil­bur Le­ven­good, Dan Franklin and Larry Porter.

De­sign of the new school, to be built near the ex­ist­ing one on land al­ready owned by Caro­line County Public Schools, needs to start soon, in or­der to stay on track for a tar­geted sum­mer 2021 com­ple­tion, said Mil­ton Nagel, as­sis­tant su­per­in­ten­dent of ad­min­is­tra­tive ser­vices.

How­ever, the In­ter­a­gency Com­mit­tee on School Con­struc­tion, which ad­min­is­ters state school con­struc­tion money, has not yet said which projects are on the list for plan­ning fund­ing in the up­com­ing fis­cal year; that an­nounce­ment is ex­pected later this spring.

Fran­chot, one of the members of the Board of Public Works, which

must ap­prove the In­ter­a­gency Com­mit­tee’s rec­om­men­da­tions, has al­ready said he strongly sup­ports the pro­posed new school.

The visit Mon­day — dur­ing which Fran­chot saw the cre­ative uses of space in­side the school and 10 por­ta­ble “learn­ing cot­tages” parked be­hind it to make enough class­rooms to house 830 stu­dents in a school rated to hold about 650 — should only bol­ster that sup­port, Nagel said. “It can’t hurt,” he said. Be­fore the tour be­gan, Fran­chot said he and Gov. Larry Ho­gan are com­mit­ted, if re-elected, to giv­ing school con­struc­tion money to ju­ris­dic­tions that prove they take care of their build­ings.

Caro­line County is at the top of that list, Fran­chot said, tied with Fred­er­ick County and “some other rich county.”

“I ap­plaud Caro­line for be­ing so well-run and good with a dol­lar,” Fran­chot said. “It’s partly be­cause of fru­gal­ity out of ne­ces­sity here, but I wish ev­ery county in the state was this good.”

Nagel said the “bones” of the ex­ist­ing school are still solid, but a fea­si­bil­ity study proved a two-story build­ing on a smaller foot­print will be cheaper to build and more ef­fi­cient to run than try­ing to ren­o­vate and add on to the 44-yearold school, which was built with an “open” class­room de­sign.

Schools’ longevity in Caro­line County is thanks to the ef­forts of the main­te­nance staff, Nagel said, as well as that of the teach­ing staff who use the school ev­ery day.

“Peo­ple here care about the build­ings,” Nagel said. “They treat them like their own homes.”

Nagel in­tro­duced Charles Pet­rick, su­per­vi­sor of school con­struc­tion and main­te­nance; Fran­chot gave Pet­rick a comptroller’s medal­lion, pre­sented to Mary­lan­ders who make a dif­fer­ence.

“School sys­tems like Caro­line should get money from the state just for do­ing what you’re do­ing,” Fran­chot said. “That’s the com­ing way, be­cause we can’t af­ford to keep build­ing all th­ese new schools.”

Fran­chot noted some schools in other ju­ris­dic­tions have fallen into dis­re­pair in as lit­tle as 15 years.

Nagel also thanked the Caro­line County com­mis­sion­ers, all three of whom at­tended the tour, for their sup­port of the new school project. In Oc­to­ber, they voted to raise the in­come tax rate from 2.73 to 3.2 per­cent, the rate re­quired to get max­i­mum state fund­ing for the $46 mil­lion project.

“They’ve taken it on the chin (for the tax in­crease),” Nagel said.

Swann then led the group on a tour of the school, start­ing with one of the 10 por­ta­ble “learn­ing cot­tages” be­hind it, in which Kelly Higgins was teach­ing fifth grade.

Af­ter ask­ing the stu­dents about what they were learn­ing, Fran­chot pre­sented Higgins with a comptroller’s medal­lion.

The tour con­tin­ued through the school’s boiler room, then into the rest of the build­ing.

Swann showed Fran­chot one class­room in what used to be a closet, and how many class­rooms are packed into the open ar­eas, sep­a­rated only by cur­tain di­viders.

Along the way, Fran­chot pre­sented an­other comptroller’s medal­lion to Kayla Holecheck, a third grade teacher.

Af­ter the tour, Fran­chot said the state should look ap­prov­ingly on build­ing a new school in Greensboro that not only serves the needs of the stu­dents, but the com­mu­nity as a whole.

“Caro­line should be re­warded, not penny-pinched, as far as the state goes,” Fran­chot said.

PHOTO BY DUSTIN HOLT

Comptroller Peter Fran­chot, left, vis­its Greensboro Ele­men­tary School fifth grade teacher Kelly Higgins, mid­dle, and her class dur­ing a school tour Mon­day, March 12. Lo­cal of­fi­cials also joined the tour, in­clud­ing Greensboro Town Man­ager Jean­nette...

Peter Fran­chot, left, presents Greensboro Ele­men­tary School third grade teacher Kayla Holecheck with the Comptroller’s Gold Coin, for “Mary­lan­ders who make a dif­fer­ence,” dur­ing a school tour Mon­day, March 12.

Comptroller Peter Fran­chot takes a tour with Caro­line County of­fi­cials at Greensboro Ele­men­tary School Mon­day, March 12, and ob­serves 10 por­ta­ble “learn­ing cot­tages” parked be­hind the school to make enough class­rooms to house 830 stu­dents in a school...

Comptroller Peter Fran­chot talks with Caro­line County Com­mis­sioner Wil­bur Le­ven­good, Caro­line County Board of Ed­u­ca­tion mem­ber Kathy Dill and Caro­line County Public Schools Su­per­in­ten­dent Dr. Pa­tri­cia Sae­lens dur­ing a tour at Greensboro Ele­men­tary...

PHO­TOS BY DUSTIN HOLT

Greensboro Ele­men­tary School fifth grade teacher Kelly Higgins holds a Comptroller’s Gold Coin, for “Mary­lan­ders who make a dif­fer­ence,” pre­sented to her by Peter Fran­chot dur­ing a school tour Mon­day, March 12.

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