Schools invite residents to form several study groups

December 01, 2005|by TIFFANY ARNOLD


Local educators are asking parents and other school enthusiasts to participate in several study groups.

What they have to say could impact the range of special programs offered in Washington County Public Schools between now and 2010, school officials said.

Schools officials mailed about 500 letters of invitation to area business leaders, government officials and parents, school officials said last week. Those interested have until Dec. 5 to respond.

An invitation is not necessary to participate in the study groups, said Shulamit Finkelstein, executive assistant for strategic planning, board and community relations.


"We're looking for anyone who's passionate about education," Finkelstein said.

The study groups, called Second Generation Study Groups, will meet for the first time in the Board of Education auditorium at the board's Commonwealth Avenue central office on Dec. 14. Though no formal deadlines have been set, officials hope to have a final report by spring, said Roger Giles, director of funded and special programs.

Carol Mowen, Washington County Public Schools spokeswoman, said the Second Generation Study Groups could change the way schools are structured. The groups will research the plausibility of adding programs and models such as a high school pre-engineering program or a science and math magnet school - major themes from the first round of study groups in 2002, Giles said.

Finkelstein said the series of study groups, which began with the three-month-long "2002 Study Groups for Specialized Programs," is part of the school system's strategic planning process.

Finkelstein and Giles, co-chairs of the Second Generation Study Groups, said that the community needed to be involved with the planning process.

"We serve the public, so we need to involve them," Finkelstein said. "We don't believe it's our role to dictate from the top. We know we don't have a monopoly on good ideas, so we constantly seek input from our constituents."

Finkelstein said the district hopes to attract at least 100 people to participate, the same number as participated in the last round of study groups.

Giles said the school system's efforts to gain community involvement also stem from a subtle caveat of the No Child Left Behind Act, a federal law requiring school districts to meet certain academic standards. Giles said districts also must bolster community involvement and offer more educational options to students and parents under the federal law.

Finkelstein said Washington County Public Schools has similar task forces for student discipline and school improvement. Like the Second Generation Study Group, the task forces eventually will present their recommendations to Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan.

County schools seek volunteers

Washington County Public Schools is seeking community volunteers to help research the impact of adding more specialty programs at public schools.

Interested volunteers must respond by Dec. 5.

The study groups will meet Dec. 14 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Board of Education office at 820 Commonwealth Ave. in Hagerstown.

For more information, call 301-766-2985 or go to

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