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School staffing concerns discussed

April 30, 2003|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

SMITHSBURG - Concerns that staffing at Smithsburg Elementary School could be cut in favor of starting a new magnet school headed discussion at an Evening with the Washington County Board of Education Tuesday.

Melissa Hargreaves, a parent of a Smithsburg Elementary School student, said the Smithsburg community has many gifted and talented students who will be slighted if the school system puts its money into the Emma K. Doub School for the Integrated Arts and Technology instead of maintaining the level of teachers in the Smithsburg community.

She said Frederick County Public Schools cut their magnet schools in favor of distributing money through the school system.

"In a time of economic crisis, you provide for the needs of all children," she said.

Roger Giles, Washington County Public Schools director of funded and special programs, said magnet programs are funded mainly through three different grants.

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He said programs such as the Emma K. Doub School for the Integrated Arts and Technology are included in the school system's master plan to improve opportunities for gifted and talented students.

Giles said gifted and talented students also receive programs through honors and advanced placement courses.

Mark Martens, a parent of a Smithsburg Middle School student, questioned why school officials have said there was no alternate plan if the school system didn't receive its nearly $150 million general fund operating budget.

Chief Operating Officer William Blum said, "For us there is no Plan B because we must meet the requirements of No Child Left Behind."

Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan said that anything potentially might be cut.

"At this point, there's no plan to cut any classes," she said.

Ruth Seidman, a Smithsburg Elementary School parent, pleaded that the School Board not cut any teachers at the elementary school. She said the Smithsburg community continues to grow.

Seidman said this year the school had 50 more students than the year before.

Robin Handler, Smithsburg Elementary School principal, said after the meeting that she believes the School Board will not cut a teacher if the enrollments continue to peak.

"The School Board is really sensitive to schools growing in population," she said.

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