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Schools may lose students

May 09, 2001

Schools may lose students



By TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

Parents in two Washington County Title I school districts will have the option of transferring their children to higher-performing county schools starting in the next school year.

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A new federal regulation providing for such transfers applies to Hancock and Eastern elementary schools because both schools' MSPAP scores have gone down for two consecutive years, according to a release from the Washington County Board of Education.

The new rule was designed to make school systems accountable for low-performing schools, according to a release from the Maryland State Department of Education.

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Hancock and Eastern elementary schools will each receive an additional $55,000 in federal Title I funds to support school improvement.

Title I is a program that provides financial assistance to help low-achieving students in high-poverty schools meet high standards of performance.

The school system is in the process of working out transportation routes for parents who choose to send their students to higher-performing schools, said Carol Mowen, the School Board's public information officer.

Title I funds may be used by the school system to pay for the transportation costs, according to a release from the state Department of Education. School transfers can be denied if the parent has selected a school that is overcrowded.

"I have real mixed feelings about the legislation, because I believe very whole-heartedly in community schools," said Donna Newcomer-Coble, principal at Hancock Elementary. "Hancock is not the lowest performing elementary school in the county. It's just that we fall under the new Title I regulations."

Hancock has an enrollment of about 340 students, including Head Start and pre-kindergarten.

Eastern has an enrollment of about 590 students, according to the 2000 Maryland School Performance Program Report.

Newcomer-Coble said the school plans to notify parents of the transfer option through letters this summer.

School officials will continue to meet to find ways to improve performance at both schools, according to a written statement from the board.

"Under the direction and leadership of new building level administrators, staffs at both schools have been developing plans for improvement," said John Festerman, the School Board's director of elementary education. "As a team, the students, parents, staff and central office support can make a difference."

"All past efforts by the previous building administrators have built a solid foundation for future successes."

The new transfer option affects schools in 15 of Maryland's 24 school systems. The regulation will bring $3.3 million to the state in Title I funds, in addition to the $119.5 million already expected.

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