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School board briefs

October 19, 2005|by KAREN HANNA

Board approves pair of contracts



A new parking lot for Fountain Rock Elementary School should be ready by the end of the year.

The Washington County Board of Education voted Tuesday night to approve a contract of $174,222 with L.W. Wolfe Enterprises Inc. to remove and replace the asphalt in areas around the school, including the bus loop, teacher parking and service access lots.

The board also approved a $42,000 contract with GRC Construction to replace windows and doors in the cafeteria and gym at Potomac Heights Elementary School.




Mothers voice crowding concerns



Crowded classrooms and school buses are some of the problems facing South County students, several mothers of children told the Washington County Board of Education Tuesday night.

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Kim Austin said her son rides on a bus with three students to a seat and others sitting on the floor. While she thanked the board for its "small Band-Aids" to remedy overcrowding in Boonsboro schools, Austin said much more needs to be done.

"Classroom seats and walls should not be sacrificed for stadium seats," Austin said during the public participation period before the board's action on several motions, including the approval of a company to oversee construction of the Mike Callas Stadium at North Hagerstown High School.

School system public information officer Carol Mowen said after the meeting the system is doing all it can to address the parents' concerns.




Man asks about past abuse investigation



Daniel Moeller of Rohrersville said he wanted to ask the Washington County Board of Education several questions after learning of a former school teacher arrested recently on charges he sexually abused students more than 20 years ago.

"How much taxpayers' money was paid to the 13-year-old girl and/or her parents to 'hush up' or keep quiet about this alleged rape?" Moeller asked in his comments to the board Tuesday night.

According to charging documents, the school system performed an administrative investigation in response to allegations a Boonsboro Middle School teacher had raped a 13-year-old girl sometime about March 1984.

Former teacher Robert Merle Haines Jr., 46, of 511 Dewey Drive in Annapolis, was charged earlier this month with second-degree rape and four counts of third-degree sex offense, according to court documents.

Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan said few people are left in the school system from the time of the investigation. Since 1985, teachers and other staff have been duty-bound by law to report any suspicions of abuse, Morgan said. They are "bullish" about following through, Morgan said.

"We are religious in following the law," Morgan said.




Board makes pledge in pension campaign



Members of the Washington County Board of Education have pledged their support for a campaign to improve teacher pensions.

Washington County Teachers Association President Claude Sasse invited the board to join the union on a bus trip to Annapolis in February as part of an effort to lobby for better pension benefits.

While retired Pennsylvania teachers' pensions are calculated at 71 percent of their final average salaries tax-free, Sasse said Maryland teachers get only 38 percent back after they retire. With Maryland rated last among all states for teacher pension plans, Sasse said it's no wonder school systems lose both candidates and veterans to neighboring states.

"We are the worst - the absolute worst - in the country, and we're trying to recruit teachers? It is an uphill battle," Sasse told the board.




Mother says son hurt during PE class



Lori Connolly's son was hoping for perfect attendance during his last year in Washington County Public Schools. Now, he's hurt at home, she told the Board of Education Tuesday night.

Connolly said her son was hurt during physical education class outside Friday at Technical High School. Connolly said after the meeting she understands the high school does not have facilities for physical education, but she believes the grass was too wet to play on. Her son hurt his knee, and she said doctors believe he might have ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament.

"They were playing soccer. I mean, when my daughter plays soccer, she wears cleats," Connolly said after the meeting.

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