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New superintendent feels at home already

November 03, 1997

By DAVE McMILLION

Staff Writer

Monday may have been Herman G. Bartlett Jr.'s first day on the job, but Washington County's new superintendent of schools says he already feels at home.

"It really doesn't feel like the first day at all," said Bartlett.

Bartlett already has worked at the superintendent's job for much of the last two weeks, "meeting with everyone that would meet with me."

Besides getting to know principals and other administrators, Bartlett said he has been meeting with groups outside the school system such as Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce members and the Greater Hagerstown Committee.

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Bartlett said much of the dicussion has focused on a recent curriculum audit that revealed problems in the school system, ranging from shortcomings in curriculum development to infrequent use of computers in the classroom.

Bartlett said the audit has been "very high on my calendar," and school officials will concentrate on developing a long-range plan to correct weaknesses identified in the report, Bartlett said.

Bartlett said he also supports continued use of "essential curriculum," which involves a number of areas. Much of its focus is helping students prepare for the Maryland School Performance Assessment Program, a rigorous statewide exam that sets higher standards for students, Bartlett said.

At least one teacher is worried about using the essential curriculum approach.

Western Heights Middle School teacher Patricia Patterson said she does not have a problem with teaching students high-level skills needed to pass the annual assement test, but the problem with essential curriculum is that it ignores basic skills.

"We got so many tests going on, we feel our hands are tied as far as teaching is concerned," Patterson said.

Bartlett said principals have told him in recent meetings that they believe the basics are being covered in schools.

The Washington County Board of Education selected Bartlett three weeks ago to take over the school system. Bartlett will serve as acting superintendent through June 30. On July 1, he will begin a four-year contract as superintendent.

Under state law, four-year contracts for superintendents must begin on July 1, school officials said.

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