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Additional $3.9 million requested for WCPS

January 28, 2009|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

ANNAPOLIS -- Washington County Public Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan was in Annapolis on Wednesday lobbying for more state money for local school projects.

Eighteen of Maryland's 24 school districts were represented at the annual meeting nicknamed the "beg-a-thon."

Saying she suffered from a case of laryngitis, Morgan asked Deputy Superintendent Boyd Michael to deliver most of Wednesday's request to the state Board of Public Works, which is made up of the governor, the treasurer and the comptroller.

Morgan asked the state to give an additional $3.9 million for new building and improvement projects. Officials already have been told they will receive $6.3 million.

Michael said their initial request was for $15.9 million. He said the request was reduced as a reaction to the state's economic woes.

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"We realize that funding is very tight this year, but based on objective data, we do deserve to get a bigger share of the pie," Morgan said.

Facilities Planning Manager Robert Spong and School Board Vice President Ruth Anne Callaham also attended.

Gov. Martin O'Malley has proposed $260.3 million in school construction funding in his fiscal year 2010 budget. On Wednesday, educators and others were vying for about $65 million of that money that has not been allocated.

Officials will learn sometime after the General Assembly passes a budget whether their requests were approved. Recommendations are made by the state's Interagency Committee on School Construction.

The largest request Morgan made Wednesday was $1 million for a new Eastern Primary School to be built across from Eastern Elementary. The School Board is expected to vote on design plans for the new school next week.

The school system's original request for the school was $7.5 million, but it was reduced to $1 million because of the state's current budget limitations, officials said.

Callaham said that students, especially ones living in poverty, will benefit from the new school.

"These children are going to thrive and they're going to sit in front of you one day with a Ph.D. on their name," she said.

The school will be outfitted with specifically designed spaces for art, music, a media center, computer labs and other support services. It also will have geothermal heating and cooling systems and be a model for future primary schools in the county, Michael said.

Morgan said the local district has wisely spent state money it received in the past, and thanked the Board of Public Works for its support of the three new elementary schools opened in Washington County last year.

After Washington County officials made their request, Morgan was asked if she had any tips for other districts having less success in lowering their high school dropout rate.

Morgan said local schools have many practices in place to curb the dropout rate, including tracking data, home visits, interventions and one-on-one conversations with students about their future.

Requested $3.9 million would fund these building and improvement projects



Washington County Public Schools on Wednesday made the following requests of the Board of Public Works:

o Eastern Primary School -- $1 million

o Hancock Middle-Senior High School roof replacement -- $563,000

o Boonsboro Middle School HVAC replacement -- $911,000

o Emma K. Doub Elementary boiler and air handling unit replacement -- $730,000

o Sharpsburg Elementary School roof replacement -- $506,000

o Williamsport High School windows replacement -- $190,000

Total: $3.9 million

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