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U.S. Rep. Bartlett takes tour of county schools

April 26, 2000|By BRENDAN KIRBY

Washington County school officials Wednesday took U.S. Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett to school - literally.

Bartlett, R-Md., toured three county schools and listened as teachers and administrators described progress toward student achievement and asked for more federal help to build and renovate schools.

"Especially in times of economic surplus, it makes no sense that we spend $250 billion to rebuild roads and not spend half that - which is what we need across the country - for school construction," said Washington County Board of Education member Andrew R. Humphreys.

Bartlett saw two schools that are bursting at the seams.

He visited a class in a temporary room built behind Maugansville Elementary School.

Principal Darlene Teach pointed out that a guidance counselor and a speech instructor share one small room inside the main building.

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The stage in the cafeteria has been converted into a computer-filled room used for both advanced Project Challenge students and music instruction.

"Everybody shares here," Teach said.

Humphreys, who escorted Bartlett, said many local schools are cramped.

"This is one of the reasons why we have to have some supplemental funding," he said.

The story was much the same at Salem Avenue Elementary School.

The West End school has been named a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence by the Department of Education and leads the county in standardized test scores.

Alan Zube, the school's curriculum coordinator, said educators there have used federal Title I grants to hire additional teachers, but there is nowhere to put them.

The school holds classes in portable trailers and a parent volunteer "office" is an area against the wall in the hallway.

"We don't have one spare inch of space," Zube said. "We're using every closet."

Zube briefly debated Bartlett over the value of small class sizes. He attributed the school's success to its low student-teacher ratio.

Bartlett questioned whether other factors play a more deciding role.

"Having gone to a one-room school, I'm not sure class size is all that important," he said.

"Yes it is," Zube countered.

Bartlett got a different look during his final stop. Lincolnshire Elementary School, which completed a $4.3 million expansion and renovation project two years ago, has new classrooms and an enlarged library.

The school has three special education resource rooms, a Title I room, a separate counseling office and a meeting room. In addition, school moved its health facilities from the main office to a health room.

"I think this is a good example of excellent use of taxpayer money," said Thomas Ingram Jr., the school's principal.

Bartlett said he has always tried to turn back education money to states in block grants without strings attached. He reminded his hosts that all money spent by the federal government comes from taxpayers.

"There's no such thing as a federal dollar," he said.

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