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New policies coming to county schools

August 16, 2004|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

New Washington County Board of Education policies on academic integrity and student conduct will be in effect when Washington County Public Schools students start their school year on Wednesday, Aug. 25.

The implementation of the policies, along with a change in how snow days are handled in the school calendar, are among the changes affecting students this school year, spokeswoman Carol Mowen said.

Another change will be that Job Development Center students will be attending the program at the Marshall Street School in Hagerstown for the first time. The program was moved from its prior location in Smithsburg.

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There will be about 150 new teachers working for the school system when school starts, Mowen said. Those teachers are receiving training this week through the New Teacher Academy.

The number of elementary schools with all-day kindergarten will increase from nine to 12, Mowen said. The three elementary schools affected are Pangborn, Potomac Heights and Hickory, she said.

Another 12 schools will continue to have only half-day kindergarten classes, she said.

Mowen said the Washington County school calendar last year had a few built-in snow days. This meant that scheduled holidays would be used to make up snow days if needed, she said.

Implementation of the idea had its flaws, namely lower attendance on those recalled days, she said. It makes it difficult for parents to plan vacations around the calendar schedule, she said.

The Washington County Board of Education decided to return to the usual procedure of having the possible snow days at the end of the academic year, she said.

That means the last day of the school year is set for June 14, but it could move to earlier in the month if school is not canceled during the winter because of snow, Mowen said.

While two new school systemwide policies going into effect this fall are not as controversial as the dress code policy that went into place last fall, they still are important and a positive development, Mowen said.

At its June 2 meeting, the Washington County Board of Education approved the academic integrity policy.

Among other issues, the policy covers cheating, fabrication, plagiarism and academic dishonesty, as well as consequences for those actions.

Some schools had similar policies but there was not a systemwide policy in place, South Hagerstown High School Principal Richard Akers said last week. Now, every school will have the same policy.

Also at that meeting, the board approved a policy titled "Code of Conduct: Respect, Responsibility and Civil Behavior."

The policy, in part, encourages people to respect diversity and to be honest, kind and considerate.

In Frederick County Public Schools, 10 schools will serve for the first time as "Excel" schools, attended by students performing below grade-level standards, system spokeswoman Marita Loose said. Each student will have an individual learning plan, which will spell out the performance goals, she said.

The 10 Excel schools are Brunswick, Hillcrest, North Frederick, South Frederick and Waverley elementary schools, Gov. Thomas Johnson and West Frederick middle school, and Frederick, Gov. Thomas Johnson and Tuscarora high schools.

School starts for Frederick County schools on Monday, Aug. 23.

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