School board says to county - step up to the plate

November 01, 2006|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM and TARA REILLEY

HAGERSTOWN - Some Washington County Board of Education members argued during a meeting Tuesday morning that it was not their responsibility to draft a plan requiring developers to help fund new schools.

They said that is the responsibility of Washington County Commissioners, who attended the meeting.

Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook questioned the school board's proposed average cost per seat during the commissioners regular meeting later that day.

School officials were not present during that meeting.

"I have difficulty with this because I don't think we should be doing it," Board of Education member Wayne D. Ridenour said. "Our job is to provide you guys (County Commissioners) with a menu of what we need and what we want. (Commissioners) are the funding authority."

Ridenour said the Commissioners should be in charge of drafting plans regarding development in the county and board members should be included in those discussions.


Board member Bernadette Wagner questioned why school system staff drafted the plan when the County Commissioners will make the final decision.

"Why are we doing this? We're using all of these hours (drafting the plan) when the county is going to make the final decision," she said. "The County Commissioners need to step up to the plate."

She said she believes the commissioners are forcing the school board to set the pace of development by asking them to draft a policy that would charge developers for new students brought to the area by new houses, duplexes and apartments.

Snook said the school board has said the cost of a seat can range from $27,000 to $108,000, with the average cost per seat being $45,000.

He said the range was broad.

"Those numbers can really skew (the average cost per seat)," Snook said.

Snook read the numbers from a document he received from the school board, then handed the sheet to Commissioners Vice President William J. Wivell, who said he had not seen the document.

"You see how I'm saying those numbers could be skewed?" Snook asked Wivell.

Snook also mentioned the cost of the school board's plans to renovate Winter Street Elementary in 2014. The cost of the planned renovation is $18 million, but the school board is adding only 166 new seats.

For that cost, Snook said the board could build a new, larger school.

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