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County seeking stronger school merger plans

January 10, 2001

County seeking stronger school merger plans



By TARA REILLY / Staff Writer


The Washington County Commissioners are mulling whether to increase the Board of Education's fiscal year 2003-2007 Capital Improvement Plan by $2 million.

The school system receives $4.5 million in capital improvement funds, but board administrators say they need $6.5 million to properly fund 15 projects.

The School Board presented the plan to the commissioners at a joint meeting Tuesday afternoon.

The plan includes consolidating Maugansville and Conococheague elementary schools in a new $11 million school. The existing schools would be closed.

Schools Superintendent Herman G. Bartlett Jr. and Director of Facilities Management Dennis McGee stressed the projects in the plan hadn't received final approval and could change.

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The commissioners, however, wanted a firmer account of the status of the projects.

"I thought it was pretty much a consensus that Maugansville and Conococheague needed to be consolidated," said Commissioner Bert Iseminger. "I don't understand why we're tap dancing around this issue."

Commissioner Paul Swartz said the commissioners need to work with a "concrete" plan and that they and the School Board should be ready to respond to public concerns about school consolidation.

"You got to be prepared to have the answers, and we're not prepared," Swartz said.

The commissioners said more consolidation projects could have been included in the plan.

"This $6.5 million timeline doesn't seem to consider some of that," Commissioner John Schnebly said.

Schnebly said in order to receive the $2 million, the School Board would have to show how some money could be saved within the school system.

"It's incomplete," he said Tuesday night. "We can't even begin to contemplate that until we get some kind of internal savings."

Bartlett said the School Board would need a financial commitment from the commissioners in order to secure state funding for the projects.

Swartz told the School Board it shouldn't expect an immediate answer on whether it would receive the increase.

"We have to go back to the drawing board ourselves," he said.

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