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New St. Maria Goretti President

August 21, 2007|By JOSHUA BOWMAN

Bill McKinley has worked his entire career with Washington County Public Schools.

The Williamsport resident has spent almost 40 years with the school system, working his way up from social studies teacher at South Hagerstown High School to executive director of support services.

But at 63, McKinley has no interest in retiring. Instead, he is going to a private school.

McKinley started work this week as St. Maria Goretti High School's new president, a position the school's board of directors created this year to oversee school operations.

"It's an umbrella position that encompasses the whole picture. Everything comes back to this office," McKinley said.

McKinley is the Catholic school's top administrator. He provides a layer of management between Principal Christopher Siedor and the Archdiocese of Catholic High Schools in Baltimore.

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"Chris' job entails enough without having to be the manager, developer and everything else. With me here, he can focus just on academics," McKinley said.

McKinley, who has more than a decade of experience in public school administration, said he is excited about the challenges of working at a private, religious school.

"In public schools, not all students want to go to college, so you offer a variety of programs. Here, our role is very specific: we're a college preparatory school," McKinley said.

Of the 56 students who graduated from Goretti last year, 54 went to college, McKinley said. Of those, all but two went directly to a four-year college.

McKinley also said he was drawn to the school's faith-based approach to education. All students are required to attend Mass at the school and take one religion class every year.

"When you combine the spiritual and academic, the graduate is a more complete person," McKinley said.

McKinley, who is Presbyterian, said he has no qualms about the school's Catholic roots.

"The Catholic and Protestant faiths all come from the trunk of the same tree," McKinley said.

McKinley said his primary goal at Goretti is to increase enrollment. Goretti's student population increased from 207 at the end of last year to 224 on the first day of school this year. But McKinley said the school could reach "its maximum potential" with about 300 students.

At that point, Goretti could expand course offerings and extracurricular activities, and build new facilities, McKinley said.

Specifically, McKinley said he wants to increase the school's selection of Advanced Placement classes. Currently, Goretti offers AP English Literature, Calculus AB, Chemistry, Spanish, U.S. History, Government and Politics.

He also said he would like to expand the school's extracurricular offerings, which might include more sports teams, theater and arts programs.

McKinley said he wants to add students to the school without increasing class sizes, which will require nearly simultaneous expansions of the student and teacher populations, as well as facilities and course offerings.

"It is very important that we keep promises we made to parents about class size. The goal is to expand without losing that small community atmosphere," McKinley said.

If growth continues or accelerates, McKinley said the school would add portable classrooms or begin new construction to prevent rising class sizes.

He said this year's large freshman class has forced the school to put as many as 23 students in a classroom. Goretti tries to maintain a maximum of 16 students per class.

"We've had a spike in enrollment, which is a good problem to have, but we have to make sure we accommodate that growth properly. That's why I'm here," McKinley said.

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