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Dr. Morgan's pay boost justified by performance

December 03, 2004

When the Washington County School Board gave Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan a 10 percent raise, we knew there would be some in the community who would say that it wasn't justified, that the money could be better spent elsewhere.

We strongly disagree. Anyone who takes an objective look at what the system has achieved since Morgan's arrival must conclude that much progress has been made under her leadership.

Since her arrival, there has been quantifiable improvement. Perhaps as important, she's evangelical in promoting the importance of public education and the critical role a quality public school system has in a prosperous, confident community.

Consider that one of the problems cited in the 1997 curriculum audit was a lack of agreement between the elected board and the superintendent over who would do what.

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Over the years, board members had gotten involved in trying to micromanage the system, a problem that wasn't fully corrected under former Superintendent Herman Bartlett.

Under Morgan, the board has settled into its proper role - making policy and allowing the superintendent and her staff to carry it out.

Consider also that in May, the Washington County Commissioners fully funded the school system's operating budget for the first time in recent memory. In contrast to the sniping that has gone on between county government and school officials in the past, it's a welcome change.

Test scores have also improved under Morgan's watch, including those at schools such as Eastern Elementary, placed on a state watch list after test scores failed to improve for two years.

By converting some teachers to Student Achievement Specialists, scores there increased, freeing the system from what could have been a costly state mandate to tutor students or transport them to higher-performing schools.

Morgan also brought the concept of magnet schools into its own, getting developer Vincent Groh to donate the former Henry's Theater in downtown Hagerstown as the site of a school for the arts.

The superintendent will earn her money in the next few years, as the system copes with a surge in population growth that will require building new schools, renovating old ones and finding the money to pay for all of it.

At the end of the day, the school superintendent is responsible for Washington County's most precious resource - its children.

As such, we believe she should be the county's highest-paid administrator. And she should be rewarded properly for doing an exemplary job. The School Board did just that.

We congratulate Dr. Morgan.

Keep up the good work.

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