"So, what happens when they finish fifth grade," asked Betsy Donohoe, supervisor of advanced programs. "Where do they go after that?"
Academy programs are available in several high schools, but Director of System Development Roger Giles said the middle school magnets will act as a bridge, allowing students to remain in magnet programs or academies through all grade levels.
Donohoe said the cost for the additional magnet programs is "to be determined." Costs will include professional development for staff members and a magnet implementation coordinator, which could mean additional pay for one teacher from each affected school.
The three middle school magnet programs would include, in their first year, 150 openings for sixth-graders and about the same number of openings in subsequent years for seventh- and then eighth-graders, Donohoe said.
The magnet focus at E. Russell Hicks is media technology, humanities and communications. It will be a bridge from the Emma K. Doub integrated technology magnet to future high school academies and programs at Washington County Technical High School.
Springfield Middle's math, science and technology magnet will stem from Williamsport Elementary's existing program, and Boonsboro Middle's world languages and global communication magnet program will bridge from Boonsboro Elementary School's similar existing program to future high school academies, according to school officials.
All three will include specific classes, with total school involvement in the magnet focus, and students will need to apply for entry into the magnet programs. Applications will be available for students in April, Donohoe said.
Washington County Public Schools recently received a $25,000 planning grant from the Maryland State Department of Education to create a science, technology, engineering and mathematics magnet program. Giles said the grant will help officials develop its Williamsport Elementary magnet program into a feeder system for a county high school, which has yet to be identified.
For more information or to download an application, go to www.wcboe.k12.md.us/content/sch_magnets.cfm