Board to discuss merging schools

March 14, 2001

Board to discuss merging schools


The Washington County Board of Education will discuss at its business meeting on March 20 whether it wants to pursue the consolidation of some elementary schools, according to William McKinley, the School Board's executive director of support services.


If the board chooses to move forward, the next step would be to set up four public meetings over the next four months, McKinley said at a joint meeting between the School Board and the Washington County Commissioners Tuesday afternoon.

After the public meetings, the School Board would vote at its regular business meeting on Aug. 20 to approve or reject the proposal to consolidate schools, he said.


McKinley and Dennis McGee, the School Board's director of facilities management, said the decision to consolidate must be made by the end of August to give the board time to include the projects in its Capital Improvement Plan. The plan must be submitted to the state with funding requests by mid-September, they said.

"The crucial part is this Tuesday, when the board decides whether there's enough interest in consolidation," McKinley said.

McKinley and McGee were members of the Facilities Review Committee, which proposed closing and consolidating five elementary schools in a move to save about $1.6 million a year. The committee disbanded Tuesday after about a year of studying the issue.

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

Winter Street, Maugansville, Conococheague, Cascade and Funkstown elementary schools would close under the plan. A new school would be built toward Cearfoss for Conococheague and Maugansville students.

School Board member Bernadette Wagner suggested that all meetings on consolidation include dialogue between the audience and elected officials.

"I would think we would want to have meetings where we could have dialogue," County Commissioner John Schnebly said. "It's an important issue."

School Board member Roxanne Ober said the board should look at redistricting school boundaries at the same time it considers consolidation. Last month, the board decided to form a redistricting committee, but members have not been appointed.

A redistricting committee would help determine whether changing school boundaries would alleviate capacity enrollments at schools, Ober said. School consolidation would also require the redistricting of some school boundaries, since students from affected areas would be sent to other schools.

"It would behoove us to look at both options simultaneously," Ober said.

The School Board will hold a work session next Tuesday at 10 a.m. and a business meeting at 7 p.m. at the central office on Commonwealth Avenue.

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