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Study groups offer chance to improve county schools

December 06, 2005

Shortly after Elizabeth Morgan arrived as superintendent of the Washington County Public Schools, a committee of citizens looked at a variety of possible programs for the future.

Out of that committee came a proposal for a county school for the arts and for magnet schools with gifted and talented, math and science and technology programs.

Three years after that committee delivered its report, the system is again asking business leaders and citizens to participate in several study groups.

We endorse the idea and urge citizens to get involved, for several reasons. The first is that members of the community know the needs and desires of those who live here.

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Who better than those who fund the school system and depend it to educate their children and future workers to offer constructive criticism and suggestions?

Citizen committees will also be able to sort those initiatives that would be nice to have from those that are essential.

Finally, committees that provide participants with the feeling that they are affecting the operation of the system in a positive way are more apt to participate in other ways in the future.

The study committees are designed to look ahead, not as critiques of current practices. There is a place for that, school officials say, but this group will be dealing with possibilities.

Ideas that school officials are putting on the table for possible consideration include the following:

An international business and global economic management academy.

A high-tech math and science high school.

A high school associated with Hagerstown Community College, modeled on the prestigious City College High School in Baltimore.

Programs for non-traditional languages such as Chinese, Japanese, Russian and languages of Eastern Europe.

A transportation academy that would focus on the trucking and aviation industries.

A leadership institute that would train future CEOs and elected officials.

Not all of these will be possible to implement now. Some may not ever be practical. But the exercise of looking at what the system might become won't do it any harm and might do it a lot of good. We await the results with great interest.

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