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Education channel debuts

September 02, 2002|by EDWARD MARSHALL

edwardm@herald-mail.com

Washington County Public Schools and Hagerstown Community College launched programming this week on an education channel created by the City of Hagerstown in cooperation with Antietam Cable Television.

The creation of cable Channel 99 stems from the city's franchise agreement negotiations with Antietam Cable.

"Before the contract was negotiated, we surveyed the community and asked them what they wanted," said Karen Giffin, spokeswoman for the City of Hagerstown.

The public requested more education and government programming, Giffin said.

Antietam Cable began airing the new channel shared by HCC and Washington County Public Schools on Monday.

The city also plans to expand programming on cable Channel 6, the city's government access channel.

Programming for Channel 99 is in its infancy. The only programming now airing is a rolling slide show of upcoming events and announcements.

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"Right now we are working on a shoestring budget. We're still in the planning stages," said Peggy Hutson, coordinator of HCC's Distance Education Center.

Station organizers said they expect to begin airing more content soon.

"We foresee a new kind of educational programming," said Carol Mowen, public information officer for Washington County Public Schools.

"The plan is to focus on three things: instruction, recruitment and public information," Hutson said.

The school system and HCC plan to air a variety of programs, including staff development programs, Board of Education meetings, community events and interactive learning courses.

HCC will begin offering courses through the station beginning this fall.

Exactly how the Washington County Public Schools and HCC will share the station has yet to be decided.

"The goal is to divide it 50-50," said Beth Stull, HCC's public information officer.

One suggestion would give HCC Mondays and Wednesdays and the school system Tuesdays and Thursdays. Weekend programming would alternate between them on a weekly basis.

"It's still tentative," Stull said.

There are no plans yet to have a separate channel for each of the education entities, but officials say that could be a possibility in the future.

"It all depends on the interest in programming and the support we get," Mowen said. "Right now we are one step at a time. We have to ensure that we have programming 24 hours a day, seven days a week."

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