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Parents, teachers oppose consolidation proposal

May 15, 2001

Parents, teachers oppose consolidation proposal



By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

kimy@herald-mail.com

Mayor Robert Kline

Photos: JOE CROCETTA

Staff Photographer

Above: Funkstown Mayor Robert Kline addresses members of the School Board Monday night. Kline spoke against consolidation plans that would close Funkstown Elementary.

Below: Fountain Rock Elementary School teacher Donna Weimer speaks at Monday night's meeting.Donna Weimer

The loss of friendships, long bus rides and large class sizes were some of the objections parents, students and teachers voiced Monday to a consolidation plan that would affect Funkstown, Emma K. Doub and Fountain Rock elementary schools.

continued

When it comes to children's education, saving money isn't always the most important consideration, said Donna Weimer, a teacher at Fountain Rock.

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"The larger the school the more impersonal it will become," she said.

Weimer said school officials should consult teachers if they want to know what situation is most conducive to learning.

"Smaller is better," she said.

She was one of about 70 people who attended a town meeting at E. Russell Hicks Middle School on a plan to close Funkstown Elementary and to send that school' students to Emma K. Doub and Fountain Rock elementary schools.

The meeting was the third of four being held by the Washington County Board of Education and the County Commissioners on school consolidation.

Last year, the commissioners initiated a study to determine whether school consolidation would save money. The study determined that the county could save $1.6 million a year by closing five elementary schools.

According to the study, Funkstown Elementary is the second most expensive school in the county in cost per pupil. Closing Funkstown and adding four rooms at Emma K. Doub and Fountain Rock elementary schools would potentially save $438,000 in staffing costs.

Enrollment at each of the newly configured schools would be 350 students.

Doub and Fountain Rock would be configured as a "three-round school," in which each grade level would have three classrooms.

Weimer said the configuration is flawed and would create noise problems and overcrowding.

Funkstown Councilman Robert Rodgers questioned whether elementary school children should be bused seven or eight miles to attend school when there is one in their neighborhood.

Closing Funkstown Elementary and splitting up students who have become friends would be detrimental, said Bridget Pearl, who has two children attending Funkstown Elementary.

Children need "friends and the stability of a familiar environment," she said.

Funkstown Assistant Mayor Paul Crampton Jr. said he thinks it's worth spending money to make sure class sizes remain small.

Some parents complained that children would be distracted by open classrooms and asked whether future housing developments would create overcrowding at county schools.

Funkstown Mayor Robert L. Kline made an impassioned plea to the School Board and County Commissioners to keep the town's elementary school open.

He said losing the school would mean losing the one-on-one connection with their teachers that children have there.

"I's asking - pleading with you - please don't close Funkstown Elementary School," Kline said twice during his comments.

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