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Superintendent outlines state of county's schools

October 31, 2002|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

Washington County Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan told representatives of the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce and local businesses Wednesday that "It's not good enough just to be good."

Morgan's comment came as she delivered the Washington County Board of Education's annual State of Education address at the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center on Dual Highway.

The event began with School Board President Edward Forrest presenting an update on current programs.

Informational Technology was targeted as an area in need of attention. Forrest said 81 percent of computers in schools are more than four years old, and the system has only six computer technicians to maintain the entire system.

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Morgan said some school systems are satisfied with at a certain level of performance, but the local school system wants to exceed its current performance. She praised staff members for working toward that goal.

She noted the county's improved test scores over a near 10-year period against national scores. She highlighted Hancock Middle School's climb from near last in eighth-grade reading in 1993 to first in the state last year.

Morgan said the school system needs to work on getting higher participation in Scholastic Aptitude Tests and courses like Advanced Placement.

"I want every student in Washington County to feel capable of going to college," she said.

She said SAT scores indicate county students are doing better in math than in verbal testing.

School Board Vice President Bernadette Wagner said many school boards operate their systems like a first-time teenage driver, who wants to get behind the wheel without direction.

But, she said, the Washington County school system has a plan that envisions students performing at peak levels, developing high-quality staff, achieving higher customer and stakeholder satisfaction and designing and implementing efficient management systems.

Wagner said the School Board hopes students will feel so comfortable with knowledge gained that they will not feel apprehensive about taking such tests as the SATs.

Members of the audience expressed concerns about funding for the School Board programs and initiatives.

"It's not about money. It's about attitude," Morgan said.

She said the school system continues to write grant requests and will find the money to fund such programs.

School Board members said they are trying to improve programs to reach each student regardless of past performance statistics.

"The answer is to not have a one-size-fits-all education system," Morgan said.

The address was co-sponsored by First United Bank and Trust and the Chamber.

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