letters to the editor - 4/15/01 - F6

April 13, 2001

Letters to the Editor 4/15 Part 2

School board alters meeting format; will respond to citizens' comments

To the editor:

The first of four scheduled town meetings between the elected school board and the community was held on April 9, at Western Heights Middle School.

The meeting focused on the future use of Salem Avenue Elementary, Winter Street Elementary and Marshall Street School and consideration of possible consolidation scenarios.

In particular the discussion focused on the return of fifth grade students to Salem Avenue Elementary and the possibility of consolidating Winter Street Elementary and Marshall Street School.


All members of the Washington County Board of County Commissioners and the Washington County Board of Education were in attendance. Additionally, staff members from the Washington County public schools were on hand to assist in answering questions raised by the community.

In an effort to improve communication and public input in Washington County Schools, the Elected Board unanimously amended its policy to include increased time for citizen participation at regular business meetings and added the town meeting.

The town meeting is a two-hour public meeting in which information on a specified topic is presented and where dialogue may occur with the board.

Previous to this policy amendment, issues requiring community input would be in a public hearing format. At a public hearing there is no response from board members and no dialogue occurs.

I believe the town meeting format is an important step toward improving communication with the stakeholders of public education in Washington County and a useful tool to obtain real and meaningful input from the public on important issues facing our schools.

While the idea of consolidation of schools is not unprecedented in Washington County, it remains a very sensitive issue and requires community input as an integral component of any proposal. I would encourage all interested parties to participate in the upcoming town meetings to voice your concerns.

W. Edward Forrest

Member, Washington County Board of Education

Student council confab an inspiration Student council confab an inspiration

To the editor:

On Friday, March 30, I had the privilege of visiting the MASC Convention (Maryland Association of Student Councils) held at the Ramada Inn this past week.

Approximately 1,000 student leaders representing every county in the state attended this three-day event. The students had the opportunity to hear guest speakers, participate in workshops, share ideas in discussion groups and socialize with other student leaders.

The event was very successful due to the many long hours of planning and hard work by a group of dedicated students and advisors. They began planning for this event last August and continued working until last minute preparations were completed.

If it is true that satisfaction correlates to the amount of effort put into a task, then this group must have experienced a great deal of satisfaction indeed.

I would like to commend the following student staff members for a job extremely well done: Ben O'Kane, Tracy Hinkle, Lindsey Grove, Katie Plume, Lainnie Bivens, Eli Martinez, Billy Bergan, Jayme Bartles, Amanda Nelling, Matt Strine, Allen Murphy and Milie Hoffman.

Also, Tyler Patton, Jenny Aiken, Amber O'Kane, Mylynh Nguyen, Jason Hinkle, Casey Breslin, Mike Kelly, Sarah Miller, Katie Spoonire, Kristen Houseknecht, Megan Grahm, Valerie Woodward, Natalie Thompson and Ellery Hanlin.

I would also like to recognize the advisors for giving of themselves, their time and their talents. Jeanne Norris from Hancock Middle Senior High School coordinated the decorations, which were lovely and Debbie Hoffman from Western Heights coordinated the delicious refreshments for the Advisor Hospitality Room.

Kim O'Kane from North High did an excellent job of training members of the student staff while Charles Holder of Williamsport High School coordinated the room set-up for each event. Beckie Higgins and Hilde Hientzelman of Northern Middle School pitched in wherever needed to make the convention run smoothly.

I would especially like to commend Ed Koogle, Supervisor of Social Studies, for spearheading the entire convention. Without these wonderful teachers the students of Washington County and those from across the state would never have had such a meaningful experience.

I was extremely impressed by the leadership skills and organizational abilities demonstrated by the students. As I left the convention, I felt very comfortable knowing that, with such talented and capable leaders, in the future our county, state and country will be in very good hands.

Bernadette M. Wagner

Vice President

Washington County

Board of Education

Thank God for all the brave firefighters

To the editor:

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