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Kids plead for their school

February 18, 2001

Kids plead for their school



By TARA REILLY / Staff Writer


While Washington County officials might look at consolidating several elementary schools as a way to save money, the view is different through the eyes of Conococheague students, their comments show.

The possible closing and consolidation of their school wouldn't be likely to happen until after the current students are gone, but they still see it - according to letters written to the Washington County Board of Education - as the uprooting of a tight-knit family, causing confusion and disrupting a daily routine they've come to know. Others think going to a bigger school would bring more teachers, and therefore, more homework.

Twenty-five third graders recently wrote letters to the School Board pleading with them to keep their school open.

"I want to stay at Conococheague Elementary School," wrote Becky Schrimsher. "If we stayed at Conococheague School, we wouldn't have a lot of homework. Plus, there would be only two teachers instead of five teachers. We also won't get to meet new people, but we can always meet friends around where we live."

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"I do not want a new school," wrote 9-year-old Mandi Crowl. "We are used to this place, some of us have memories here. If we stay here, we can know everyone. We will not know our way around the new school."

"You will say, 'More teachers are better,' but it is not. We can't remember the teachers' names," Mandi wrote.

The Facilities Review Committee, made up of School Board members Mary Wilfong and J. Herbert Hardin; board administrators William McKinley and Dennis McGee; and County Commissioners William Wivell and John Schnebly, presented a report to the Board of Education and County Commissioners that states the county could save $1.6 million a year by closing and consolidating some elementary schools.

The report considers consolidating Cascade and Smithsburg; Winter Street and Salem Avenue; Emma K. Doub, Fountain Rock and Funkstown; and Conococheague and Maugansville elementary schools.

Cascade, Winter Street, Funkstown, Maugansville and Conococheague would close. Maugansville and Conococheague students would attend a new $11 million school to be built toward Cearfoss.

The Board of Education has said both Maugansville and Conococheague are in need of major repairs, which would cost about $12 million. It would save $1 million by building a new school and $300,000 per year in operating expenses, including staffing and utilities. The new school would be big enough for about 608 students. Planning for the project could begin in 2003.

Conococheague uses a septic system and could have extensive water and sewer problems if it remains open another 10 years or more, according to the board. The 26,780-square-foot school was built in 1960. The school must use bottled-water because its water supply is contaminated with lead, and it is also with air-conditioning.

Most students said they'd rather sit in the small school without air conditioning than attend a new school, and came up with their own ideas to save money. Some wrote that the school should be repaired.

"I want you to fix our school," wrote 9-year-old Daniel Stanley. "It would be too hot in the summer, but we could get A.C. It would be too much money, but we could help to get money, and use the money our parents pay in taxes."

"The nice thing about fixing Conococheague are that we have nice teachers that we know," 8-year-old Breanne Purdham wrote to the board. "We will get to know friends better, and we will be closer to home.

"The bad thing about fixing Conococheague are we might forget to fix something, but we could look over it again," Breanne wrote. "It would cost money, but the kids could pitch in to save our school. We might not have room but you can make Conococheague bigger if you fix it. I want you to fix Conococheague. Please don't let us leave."

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