Consolidation could involve some students swapping schools

April 05, 2001

Consolidation could involve some students swapping schools


Town Meeting

What: The Washington County Board of Education and County Commissioners present consolidation plan.

When: Monday, April 9, 7 p.m.

Where: Western Heights Middle School

Marshall Street School, a center for special needs students, could become the school for students who now attend Winter Street Elementary, according to a plan that would consolidate some Washington County schools.


The plan does not state specifically where the 50 special need students would end up, but it indicates they could be placed in either a wing of Marshall Street or Western Heights Middle School or placed temporarily at Winter Street Elementary, which would be empty.


Winter Street would eventually close if the Board of Education approves the plan.

The Marshall Street School would be re-named Western Elementary.

In addition, fifth-graders in the Winter Street district who now attend Western Heights would be placed with the rest of the Winter Street students at Marshall Street. Fifth graders in the Salem Avenue district, who also go to Western Heights, would return to Salem Avenue Elementary.

Salem Avenue would be expanded to hold the fifth-graders.

The Washington County Board of Education and the County Commissioners will present the plan to residents of the affected areas Monday night at a town meeting at Western Heights. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. The public will have about 90 minutes to participate in dialogue with both boards about the plan.

The meeting is the first of four to be held on school consolidation. The School Board and County Commissioners have said consolidating several schools would save $1.6 million a year while maintaining the quality of education.

Carol Mowen, the School Board's public information officer, said Marshall Street, a 49,975-square-foot building, has the space to serve students from pre-kindergarten through fifth grade.

"Marshall Street is a very large facility with a great deal of square footage," she said.

Winter Street, which has 32,000-square-feet of space, has no room for expansion, she said.

Those involved in the consolidation effort have said the proposal for the Winter Street, Salem Avenue and Marshall Street schools is expected to save about $244,000 a year, if adopted.

Other consolidation plans include combining Cascade and Smithsburg; Maugansville and Conococheague; and Funkstown, Fountain Rock and Emma K. Doub elementary schools.

Cascade, Maugansville, Conococheague and Funkstown would close under the plan. A new school would be built in the Cearfoss area to hold the Maugansville and Conococheague students.

The Facilities Review Committee, made up of two county commissioners, School Board members and county and board administrators, worked for about nine months on the consolidation report.

"It was a well-researched document put together with a lot of thought," Mowen said.

Parents, however, have said the plan is incomplete, inaccurate and would create larger, less efficient schools. They also said they should have been included in drafting the plan and notified of when the Facilities Review Committee met to discuss consolidation.

The committee has said it did not advertise or formally announce its meetings.

"There may be the perception that the public's opinion was not considered," Mowen said. "However, it was part of the long-range process to get some idea on paper as a starting point and to get some research done, so we could begin the dialogue in an informed manner."

The School Board of Education is expected to vote on Aug. 21 on whether to accept or reject the plan or portions of it.

In addition to Monday's meeting, the School Board will hold town meetings at 7 p.m. on:

--April 30 at Western Heights Middle School to discuss Maugansville and Conococheague elementary schools;

--May 14 at E. Russell Hicks Middle School to discuss Fountain Rock, Emma K. Doub and Funkstown elementary schools;

--June 4 at Smithsburg High School to discuss Cascade and Smithsburg elementary schools.

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