Conococheague's fate decided tonight

April 16, 2002|BY TARA REILLY

The Washington County Board of Education is to decide tonight if it will move forward with plans to save money by closing Conococheague Elementary School and sending its 256 students to three different schools.

At the same time, Maugansville Elementary School would be replaced at another site in the area, gaining some of the Conococheague students. The remaining Conococheague students would attend Clear Spring and Williamsport elementary schools.

The other scenario proposed by Director of Facilities Management Dennis McGee is to renovate Maugansville beginning in 2004 and wait 15 years to renovate Conococheague, because other schools are ahead of Conococheague on the construction schedule.


If the board decides to close Conococheague, students would remain there until the Maugansville replacement is completed in June 2006.

McGee said Monday he's asking the School Board for direction on which way to proceed in order to meet state deadlines on capital construction plans.

"I have to write something down," McGee said. "It's easier to do it now than to surprise people later."

McGee said he needs direction to work on the 2003 Educational Facilities Master Plan, which will go to the School Board for approval in June. The plan must be submitted to the state for approval by July 1.

If the School Board decides to move forward with closing Conococheague and replacing Maugansville, an official vote to close the school would have to be made by January, according to a March 27 memo from McGee to Interim Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan.

The board would purchase land this fall for the new Maugansville school, the memo states.

Building a new school and shutting down Conococheague would cost about $3 million less than renovating both, school officials have said. The school system would save about $400,000 in staffing costs, because one school would be eliminated.

Maugansville was built in 1936 and has received renovations in 1955 and 1968. It does not have air conditioning or sprinklers and has three portable classrooms. It has been flooded and has had problems with the rafters and roof.

The site is too small to support a larger building, according to an April 4 memo from McGee to Morgan.

McGee has said Conococheague, which was built in 1960, lacks air conditioning, sprinklers and specialty instructional spaces. It has three portable classrooms and is on a well and septic system.

Conococheague Principal Sue Gordon, calling the school a "solid little building," said she would be disappointed if Conococheague closes, but that the School Board has to decide what's best for the students.

She said the lack of air conditioning in the school is a problem, but that the septic system is holding up.

"You become a part of the building, and you learn to love the kids and families," Gordon said. "But we can't always think that way. We have got to do what's best for kids."

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