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Marshall Street project delayed indefinitely

January 15, 1997

By KERRY LYNN FRALEY

Staff Writer

The Washington County Board of Education on Tuesday night voted unanimously to indefinitely postpone consolidation of the Marshall Street School and Washington County Job Development Center.

A plan to consolidate the two schools' programs at the Marshall Street School was narrowly approved by the school board on Nov. 12 but was put on hold Dec. 10 after new board members Andrew R. Humphreys and Edwin Hayes raised concerns about funding for the project.

The consolidation was supposed to take effect at the start of the 1997-1998 school year, after extensive renovations to the Marshall Street School building, which were to begin during the recent holiday break and be completed over the summer.

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The board spent nearly two hours discussing the consolidation plan during a Jan. 8 work session.

At that meeting, board members questioned the staff-projected financial benefits of the plan and discussed other options for increasing instructional time for Job Development Center Students, who fall 47 minutes short of the state daily requirement.

On Jan. 9, Schools Superintendent Wayne F. Gersen directed a memo to the school board recommending the consolidation plan be deferred to give staff members time to come up with "thoughtful alternatives."

At the same time, Gersen said he recommended keeping the $225,000 allocation for the renovation project in the school system's capital improvements plan (CIP) since "any alternative uses for Marshall Street School will require the outlay of CIP funds."

Humphreys, who made the motion to defer the consolidation plan indefinitely, joined Hayes and Board President B. Marie Byers in saying they believed it was smart to hold off on the consolidation plan.

Board member Doris J. Nipps said she was voting in favor of the postponement only because it was recommended by staff.

Nipps said she was concerned about the fact that the average daily attendance at the 48,000-square-foot Marshall Street School - which has a state-rated capacity of 152 students - is 25 students, with 41 enrolled as of Nov. 30, 1996.

The 15,000-square-foot Job Development Center - with a state-rated capacity of 81 students - had 64 students enrolled as of Nov. 30, she said. But its shop, art and domestic services areas are inadequate for their programs.

The Job Development Center, which opened in 1972, provides vocational training for developmentally challenged students ages 14 to 21. The Marshall Street School, which opened in 1976, serves students ages 3 to 21 with severe disabilities that prevent them from participating in school-based programs.

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