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Superintendent signing up for four more years

February 22, 2006|by KAREN HANNA

WASHINGTON COUNTY

karenh@herald-mail.com

Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan and the Washington County Board of Education have agreed to a new contract that will keep her in the school system through the middle part of 2010.

The board Tuesday night reappointed Morgan, whose current contract expires June 30, to a four-year term. Morgan will sign the contract March 7, the day of the next scheduled board meeting, school system spokeswoman Carol Mowen said Tuesday afternoon.

The board was "absolutely unanimous in our thinking that we needed her to stay in the county," Board President W. Edward Forrest said after Tuesday night's board meeting.

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Morgan, 62, will be paid $158,000 annually, beginning July 1. Morgan's current salary is $146,839 a year, according to information provided by the school system. Other details still are being worked out, Forrest said.

Morgan, who came to the county as an interim superintendent on loan from Baltimore City Schools, said Tuesday she was pleased to have the opportunity to stay in the school system. She bought a house in Washington County last August, she said.

"My motivation has always been and will continue to be to work hard for the children of Washington County," said Morgan, who applauded her staff and teachers during Tuesday's meeting.

According to a Maryland State Department of Education report, superintendents' salaries at the state's 24 school systems during this school year ranged from $115,000 in Caroline and Garrett counties to $260,000 in Prince George's County.

The average superintendent's salary was about $159,000, according to figures, according to the report.

"It's a difficult job for anyone to perform, and I think she's done an exemplary job over the past five years," Forrest said.

The school system employs close to 3,000 people, Mowen said. According to Hagerstown-Washington Economic Development Commission Executive Director Timothy R. Troxell, the school system ranks just behind Washington County Health System as the second-largest Washington Count employer.

As the condition of its loan agreement, Washington County schools agreed to reimburse Baltimore City $105,000 toward Morgan's salary of $148,000 when she first came to the system, according to previous Herald-Mail reports. In 2002, Morgan began the first year of her current four-year contract as the appointed superintendent of Washington County Public Schools.

The school system is becoming "what a world-class system should be, which is just a range of options and opportunities for every child in the school system," Morgan said.

An educator for almost 35 years, Morgan said she has spent 27 years in the state of Maryland. Before her three-year term in Baltimore City schools, she said she worked for Frederick County Public Schools for three years and Montgomery County Public Schools 17 years.

Morgan said Tuesday she has been proud of the school system's efforts to improve student achievement and enhance offerings for students. The school system has added magnet schools and special-interest academies, while providing more help for English-language learners and students with disabilities, she said.

"I think obviously the student achievement really speaks for itself," Morgan said.

Morgan said the school system has enjoyed a good relationship with the Washington County Commissioners, and big influxes of money have allowed it to offer better levels of compensation to employees.

The board also has nearly completed its replacement of out-dated textbooks, Morgan said.

"I think in HR and in capital improvement, those are the areas we're really going to have to improve on, and instructionally, on the SAT," Morgan said.

The board voted Tuesday night to spend close to $800,000 to automate the human resources department, according to Forrest, and the draft budget for next fiscal year includes money for SAT preparation materials.

Last year, Washington County's senior class scored below both the state and national averages on the SAT, according to a report accepted by the board in November.

Morgan said she has not made any plans beyond the new contract's term.

"As long as I still have my health and the support of my family to do this, and I still wake up happy to go to work, I will continue to do this," Morgan said.

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