New superintendent braces for growth

July 28, 1997


Staff Writer, Charles Town

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - David W. Markoe remembers when Frederick County, Md., went through a population explosion.

Subdivisions were going up quickly with no one telling the school system to expect more students.

The school system had to play "catch up" for a long time, he said.

After 30 years with the Frederick County school system, Markoe said he sees Jefferson County on the verge of what happened there.

As the new school superintendent for Jefferson County, Markoe said his experience in Frederick County will serve him well.

Markoe started his new job on July 7, replacing Judson Romine, who retired.

Markoe is coming to a county that faces tremendous growth as the once-rural West Virginia community experiences pressure from the Washington, D.C., area.


Markoe was assistant superintendent for school administration and school improvement in nearby Frederick County, which has 29 elementary schools, 10 middle schools and eight high schools with a total student population of 33,000.

Jefferson County has nine elementary schools, three junior high schools and one high school with nearly 7,000 students.

Markoe will be juggling the school system's effort to meet state standards while absorbing large numbers of new students.

He's been meeting with some business leaders and wants to hold community meetings in September to introduce himself and to find out what the community wants from the school system.

He also wants to work with business leaders to get them to help keep students in school.

Jefferson County, which has the lowest unemployment rate in the state, also has among the highest dropout rates.

Students who may be doing marginally well in school see the chance to get a job and make money and they take it, Markoe said.

He said he would like to see business owners working to help keep the students in school by hiring only those with diplomas or checking on the students' grades and attendance.

Markoe said he plans to spend the first half of the new school year in the schools, getting to know the buildings and the people.

After that, he wants to work at establishing long-term plans to deal with the new state academic standards and the new growth in students.

Markoe, 55, began his career as a physical education teacher in Prince George's County, Md., after graduating in 1966 from the University of Maryland.

He decided to become a teacher because he wanted to work with students and was interested in coaching, he said. He played offensive guard for the college football team in 1964 and 1965.

His father had been a firefighter and his mother a government worker in Washington, D.C., but both he and his brother decided to become teachers, Markoe said.

He worked his way up in the system to vice principal, principal and then in 1993 was named associate superintendent.

Markoe was selected from 25 candidates. His annual salary is $74,000.

Markoe said he plans to move to Jefferson County.

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