Magnet school sign-up available on June 17

June 12, 2002|by DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

Applications for Washington County Public Schools' first magnet school program will be available Monday, June 17, school system officials said Tuesday.

About 40 students will be accepted into a special gifted program at Fountaindale Elementary School. The school also will have enhanced art and music classes for all students.

Three weeks ago it was unclear whether the special program, called a magnet program because it tends to attract students, would happen in the coming school year.


School Board members on May 21 voted 6-0 to endorse the idea, but didn't commit to the program because of questions over how to pay for the program.

School Board President Edward Forrest said Tuesday that the board accepted the magnet program proposal with the May vote. Funding is included in the budget the board approved last week, Forrest said.

Interim Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan said the enhanced programs at Fountaindale will cost about $80,000 above normal spending.

She said a previous estimate that showed the programs would cost about $200,000 included $120,000 in improvements to the school such as painting and new carpets. Those improvements would have been made eventually with or without the magnet program, Morgan said.

Morgan said that when the board members approved the budget, they were approving the magnet school program.

Under the proposed magnet school program, Fountaindale in Hagerstown's North End will have enhanced arts and music programs for all students, plus special classes for about 40 gifted students. There will be two gifted classes, one a combined second- and third- grade class, and the other a combined fourth- and fifth-grade class.

Admission into the gifted program will be open to all county students, and based on several factors including student interviews, standardized test scores, a questionnaire, and current school.

Applicants already attending Fountaindale will be given preference, as will students attending the nearby Pangborn, Paramount and Potomac Heights elementary schools, Morgan said.

This will help bring some "voluntary redistricting" to the area, Morgan said.

A committee of school officials that probably will include the principal and guidance counselor, will decide which students to accept. Morgan said the gifted program will have about 40 students.

There is no special fee for applying or attending the school. If an accepted student lives outside the Fountaindale area, the parents would be responsible for transporting the child to school, Morgan.

"I see this as the beginning of creating options for students and parents in Washington County," Morgan said. "This will be the first in a series of these types of schools.

Applications for the gifted program will be available Monday at the school system central office at 820 Commonwealth Ave. Hagerstown, and at the Fountaindale school, Morgan said.

According to a pamphlet on the program, applications must be submitted to Fountaindale by June 28. Students will be tested and interviewed during July. Then notifications of the students selected will be mailed to parents around Aug. 1.

More information can be obtained by contacting Donna Chesno, coordinator of gifted and talented programs, at 301-766-2992, or Fountaindale Principal Elaine Semler at 301-766-8156.

The Herald-Mail Articles