Boonsboro parents, students fight to keep magnet program

November 07, 2007|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

BOONSBORO - Hunched over a piece of poster board, 10-year-old Iris Wechsler and her friends were busy brainstorming.

In large letters at the top of their poster, the girls wrote, "The magnet program must stay."

Reasons for keeping the magnet program at Boonsboro Elementary School came easy.

They are learning. They are having fun. Their classes are more advanced. They enjoy learning.

Iris and about 25 other children spent Tuesday night drawing on posters and writing letters to the Washington County Board of Education, asking them not to take away the world languages and global communications magnet program that has been there since the previous school year.

Iris' mother, Heidi Welsh of Boonsboro, said parents organized the gathering after Board Member Bernadette M. Wagner suggested that the school's magnet program be moved to Rockland Woods Elementary. Wagner has said the suggestion was made to entice parents to move their children to Rockland Woods from an overcrowded Boonsboro Elementary.


Rockland Woods Elementary is expected to open in 2008.

There are nearly 100 students at Boonsboro Elementary participating in the school's magnet program, and Welsh said parents are concerned that it will be taken away.

Fifth-graders Taylor Williams and Ann Notarangelo said that their magnet classes are more advanced and move at a faster pace than other fifth-grade classes.

Although parents will have the opportunity to drive their children to a different school with an enrichment program, Welsh says that few will.

"Anybody who works doesn't have an hour to drive their children to school and back," she said.

Some parents from the Sharpsburg and Pleasant Valley area are already driving their children 30 minutes to Boonsboro. There are about 18 students enrolled in Boonsboro's magnet program from outside of the district.

Brigitte Schmidt of Boonsboro has one child in the school's magnet program and said that the entire school also benefits, not just those who are enrolled in the enrichment classes. She said that Boonsboro Elementary has benefited from the program with new technology, like a computer lab.

Schmidt and Boonsboro resident Amy Jones, who has two students enrolled in the magnet program, said that if the world languages curriculum was taken from the school, opportunities for children in the southern part of Washington County would be limited.

Schmidt said she would not mind if Rockland Woods also had a magnet program for its students.

"I'm find with them having a magnet program," she said. "Just don't take ours."

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