Commissioners hear redistricting complaints

March 24, 2009|By TIM SHEA

Committee reacts to redistricting protest

CLEAR SPRING -- A proposal that would shift 130 students from Clear Spring schools to Hancock was the source of a long and sometimes heated debate Tuesday night when the Washington County Commissioners held a meeting at the Leonard P. Snyder Memorial Library.

A parent of a kindergarten student who would be affected by the plan, which was tabled Tuesday night at a Washington County Board of Education meeting, asked the commissioners how much authority they have over the school board.

"Why is the schools budget in (the county) budget?" Joi Gazzerro asked.

Commissioner Kristin B. Aleshire said Washington County Public Schools is only one agency within the county's budget and the school board is separately elected by the public.


"We don't have the authority to dictate what the school board can do," Aleshire said. "They're a completely separate body from us."

In a prepared statement, Gazzerro said the proposal to shift students to Hancock would disrupt the communities of Clear Spring and Big Pool, and would not provide the same level of education or extracurricular activities that Clear Spring has.

She also said students would lose an hour a day going back and forth to Hancock, and asked what would happen if a school bus got in an accident on Interstate 70.

"I think you (the commissioners) are totally ineffective," Gazzerro said. "You don't care about the community."

The commissioners urged residents to let the school board work its way through the redistricting process before making any complaints.

"Everyone needs to be patient and let the process work," Commissioners Vice President Terry Baker said after the meeting. "(The school board) is going to do what's right for the kids."

Despite the sometimes contentious debate, Gazzerro said she felt the commissioners showed concern for the residents in the end.

"We got our point across and we'll see what happens," Gazzerro said after the meeting. "We're going to battle this to the end."

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