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Morgan: Schools 'making progress'

April 11, 2007|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

Washington County Public Schools are doing "very well" and taking visible steps toward becoming a world class school system, Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan said during this morning's State of Education address in Hagerstown.

The annual event is hosted by the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce.

"I think we have some lofty goals," she said. "Are we (a world class school system) yet? No. Are we making progress? Absolutely."

School system staff gave the presentation on the state of education in Washington County before a group of about 50 at the Four Points Sheraton on Dual Highway. They touted rising test scores, increased ranking in the state and new school buildings scheduled to open in 2008.

The school system has 2,838 employees, and 21,057 students, said Chief Financial Officer Chris South. Of those students, 13 percent have disabilities, 37 percent qualify for free and reduced price meals, and 15.6 percent are minorities, he said.

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In the current fiscal year the school system had a composite budget of $244 million, and a $129 million payroll, he said.

"(The school system) is a very large business enterprise," South said.

Washington County Public Schools has the highest attendance rates in the state for elementary, middle and high schools, said JoEtta Palkovitz-Brown, assistant superintendent for elementary instruction.

Officials also said students' test scores are rising even as they face increased rigor in the classroom.

Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Instruction Donna Hanlin said more students are staying in school and graduating. She also said the school system was making "outstanding progress" in state assessment scores.

Palkovitz-Brown said there are a number of accomplishments not related to test scores, like implementing full-day kindergarten programs, adding additional magnet programs and community involvement initiatives.

Brien J. Poffenberger, president of the Chamber of Commerce, said education and the business community are partners, and the desire is for Washington County's well-educated students to remain in the area.

"Today's student is tomorrow's worker," he said.

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