Earth to School Board

January 15, 2001

Earth to School Board

Everyone knows there is a Washington County school consolidation plan. The County Commissioners know it, City Hall knows it, the teachers know it, the staff knows it, the students know it, the parents know it.

Don't you hate it when you're always the last to know?

"I've been asked to speak at two PTA meetings about what's going on, and I honestly don't know what's going on," said Schools Superintendent Herman Bartlett.

This is one of those special Nixonian moments, where you don't know what's worse: If the board has seen consolidation plans and is being untruthful about what it knows, or if the board is so out of it they can't even noodle through what every elementary school student in the county figured out weeks ago.

Unless board members can produce evidence showing they have been in a cave on the planet Mars for the past two months, it's hard to believe they are being up front about what they know.


Historically, the School Board has always treated information like technicians treat uranium atoms escaping from a nuclear power plant. Suppress at all costs. Remember, this is the bunch that felt a retaining wall next to a department store was a subject too sensitive to discuss in open session.

If the Washington County School Board had been in charge of Los Alamos all these years, the most complicated formula Wen Ho Lee could have ever stumbled across would have been for Courtney Love's hair coloring.

But I'm curious. Do the School Board members believe the County Commissioners are making all this up about plans to consolidate certain schools? Do they not read the newspaper?

Did they think that big angry meeting up in Cascade last week was to discuss the Orioles' chances of winning behind newly acquired pitcher Pat Hentgen?

Two board members who sit on the School Consolidation Committee said they have no knowledge of a consolidation plan. Now call me naive if you must, but I'm thinking that if I join a group called the "School Consolidation Committee" I am very likely to think it will have something to do with consolidating schools.

But the board members? Oh no. They must have thought they were joining the School Condensation Committee and it had something to do with fixing leaking roofs.

Here's a headline from the Jan. 4 Herald-Mail: "Maugansville, Conococheague elementary schools would be consolidated." Now I know words can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people, but here's the way I took it: I took it to mean that the Maugansville and Conococheague elementary schools would be consolidated.

Maybe you understand it differently. Obviously the board did. But what I don't get is that one board member was quoted commenting on the plan, one full week before he was quoted as basically saying no such plan exists.

That is one cool trick. It has a certain time-machine element to it that would do Ray Bradbury proud.

The irony is that, in general, consolidation is the right thing to do - even though some people will not be happy. I can understand that Cascade parents up there on the mountain will be worried, especially in the winter. They won't need a bus, they'll need a ski lift. But then again...

Maybe the Cascade kids could sign up with Role Models Academy at Fort Ritchie.

Role Models' problem: finding enough recruits? Solved.

School Board's problem: trying to maintain the underpopulated and inefficient Cascade Elementary school? Solved.

See, board members? Wacky plans are nothing to be afraid of.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist

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