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Local school officials meeting at Wisp Resort

June 19, 1998|By DAVE McMILLION

The Washington County Board of Education is spending $16,118 for more than 100 administrators, principals and supervisors to attend a three-day training conference at a Garrett County, Md., resort.

The conference, where school officials are learning about effective reading instruction and hearing a clinical psychologist discuss reading disorders, began Wednesday and is to conclude today at the Wisp Resort Hotel in McHenry, Md.

Schools Superintendent Herman G. Bartlett Jr. felt the seminar was needed because of a curriculum audit released last year, said school spokeswoman Donna Messina.

The audit revealed a number of problems in the school system, including a dysfunctional organizational structure. It also said that the school board and the central office administration were unable to manage mechanisms that ensure quality curriculum control.

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Bartlett felt the conference would be a way to bring the staff together to assess the needs of the system, Messina said.

He felt it should be held at a distant location so administrators could focus on the program, Messina said.

"They want to immerse themselves 100 percent," said school board member Edwin Hayes.

A Hagerstown resident questioned the need to send administrators and principals to a resort 110 miles away.

John A. Stansberry, husband of former school board member Barbara Stansberry, said the conference could have been held in North Hagerstown High School's auditorium.

"This sounds rather expensive for an in-service. Why can't it be held in Washington County as in-services for teachers are?" Stansberry said in a letter to the editor.

Washington County Commissioner Ronald L. Bowers backed the training.

"I don't have a problem with it. It's time that we get our people professionally trained," Bowers said.

Bowers said weekly visits to schools over the last few months have convinced him that better training is vital.

He said $16,000 from an overall budget of more than $100 million is minuscule, and agreed with the reasoning behind holding the session in Garrett County.

"When you stay in your local area, the lack of concentration is there," he said.

Theresa Flak, assistant superintendent for instruction, said the Leadership Development Institute is needed "if we're going to move people forward."

Flak said the school system typically has spent less than 1 percent of its budget on professional development, while businesses spend between 5 percent and 10 percent.

"Actually, people are putting in a much, much longer work day," said Messina, who said the training sessions went from 7 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday.

Wisp, a ski resort, is near Deep Creek Lake. Wisp also runs "The Golf Club," an 18-hole championship golf course that Golf Digest magazine rated as one of the top 500 public resort courses in the U.S.

The hotel has 169 rooms, and the resort has racquetball courts, a whirlpool, tennis courts and a restaurant and lounge.

Several people were to make presentations at the seminar. One of the speakers, Ronald Trites, is a clinical psychologist who specializes in reading disorders and how to get youngsters to read at their grade levels, Messina said.

The board had made reading a top priority for its students.

Messina said part of Trites' costs were paid for by Autoskill Inc., an educational software company.

Staff Writer Brendan Kirby contributed to this story.

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