Groups suggest school programs

May 16, 2006|by KAREN HANNA


Magnet schools, foreign language offerings, career counseling and the creation of a high-tech high school are some of the ideas groups charged with suggesting new programs said they wanted to see in Washington County Public Schools.

Two new magnet programs included in next year's budget for Boonsboro and Williamsport elementary schools are among the recommendations.

The Board of Education will hear a presentation on the findings of the Second Generation Groups for Specialized, Signature and Magnet Programs at tonight's meeting, according to an agenda available Monday night on the school system's Web site.

According to Shulamit Finkelstein, executive assistant for strategic planning and board and community relations, about 100 people - including retirees, teachers, business professionals, members of religious communities and parents - discussed in seven small groups new programs for elementary, middle and high schools. The board has implemented suggestions of groups that met a few years ago in a similar process, she said.


Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan said Monday that school system staff likely will soon begin determining which ideas can be implemented and how much they will cost. Some recommendations could be presented to the board fairly quickly, Morgan said. She said she could not estimate a timeline for implementation.

"But, I think once it happens, it will be fabulous," Morgan said.

In reports provided by the study groups, few of the recommendations carry price tags. The cost estimates provided by the study groups range from $52,000 to $57,000 to expand foreign-language-immersion offerings to more than $16 million to make computers easily accessible to all students.

Margaret Spivey, director of technology and computer studies for HCC, who participated in one of three groups focused on new programs for high schools, said Monday she was impressed with the interest community members demonstrated. Her group's recommendations included creating a transportation academy for students interested in careers in shipping, she said.

Two recommendations - magnet schools at Boonsboro and Williamsport elementary schools - are in the budget.

According to Roger Giles, director of funded and special programs, the theme for the Boonsboro program will be world languages and global communications, while the Williamsport program will focus on math, science and technology. Each school will offer seats for as many as 25 qualified students per grade level, Giles said.

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