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Council, BOE to meet regularly

September 04, 2002|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

The rare joint meetings between the Hagerstown City Council and the Washington County Board of Education are scheduled to become more of a regular occurrence, following a Tuesday meeting between the two bodies.

School Board President Edward Forrest suggested the two bodies meet four times a year and the Hagerstown mayor and other elected officials agreed.

The School Board normally meets each month with the Washington County Commissioners, who provide it with funding, but has not met regularly with the City Council.

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School Board member Roxanne Ober suggested Tuesday's meeting to provide a way for the School Board to directly tell city officials about some of the projects, plans and initiatives involving city schools.

The meetings are a good idea and an excellent way to exchange information and share resources, Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan and City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman said after the meeting. For example, the School Board possibly could help with downtown revitalization, she said

The health of the community affects the quality of the schools and vice versa, Zimmerman said.

Most of Tuesday's 75-minute meeting involved board officials telling city officials about plans in city schools.

Dennis McGee, School Board director of facilities management, explained a planned $12.2 million renovation and expansion at Salem Avenue Elementary School in Hagerstown. Construction is still a year away, but when the project is complete it will make Salem Avenue the largest elementary school in the county.

Roger Giles, director of funded and special programs, gave a report on Washington County Public Schools' first magnet school program, the Fountaindale School for Arts and Academic Excellence. About 45 students are enrolled in the program, which started this year.

"We are hearing good things about the Fountaindale program," Mayor William M. Breichner said during the meeting.

Hagerstown Councilman N. Linn Hendershot said he was concerned the School Board was putting too much emphasis on gifted and artistic students and not enough on average students.

"We are interested in the average Joe," he said.

"I don't think you have to worry about that," Morgan said. The school district is one of the best in the state as far as students knowing functional skills, she said.

It is more important that a student know how to use a computer keyboard than that a student can play drums, Hendershot said.

"The two are not mutually exclusive," Morgan replied.

Breichner thanked the school board for the presentations.

"You gave us a lot to think about," he said.

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