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School board briefs

July 15, 2009

Science, math focus of draft curriculum

The Washington County Board of Education received a draft Tuesday of a five-year plan to improve science, technology, engineering and math instruction, also known as STEM.

Sandra Graff, supervisor of secondary science for Washington County Public Schools, said those subjects already are part of the school system curriculum. However, the STEM five-year plan involves a more coordinated effort.

"The plan reflects our intent to try to develop those connections and give students the strength of seeing those things at the same time," she said.

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Board member Justin M. Hartings, who owns a biotechnology business, said he was excited that students would have more opportunities to learn science and math.

"It's what I do every day," he said.

Board member Donna Brightman questioned spending additional money on "career counselors," as the draft STEM plan calls for.

"We all know we're working under tight budget restraints," said Donna Hanlin, assistant superintendent of secondary education. "That may not be possible, but those are ideas that are being explored."

Brightman asked whether schools could form partnerships or benefit from career assistance through other creative means.

Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan said the plan presented Tuesday was a "good beginning" and a "really rough draft." She said the school board ultimately would decide which items receive funding.

"If the Board of Education decides this should be a priority for the budget then other things would take lesser priority based on what the Board of Education wants to happen," she said.

New Antietam Academy expected to cost more than $11 million

The Washington County Board of Education approved a bid of more than $11 million Tuesday to build a new Antietam Academy near its previous site on the South Hagerstown High School campus.

The school board voted 5-0 to hire Brechbill & Helman Construction Co. Inc., of Chambersburg, Pa., to complete the work. Board members Paul W. Bailey and W. Edward Forrest were absent for the vote.

Antietam Academy is a school for students who have had trouble in a regular school setting. The building used for Antietam Academy high school was about as old as South Hagerstown High School, which was built in 1956. The former Antietam Academy building burned down earlier this year, and students will learn in portable classrooms when the school year begins.

The new school is expected to be completed in 2010.

Board Vice President Ruth Anne Callaham and board member Justin M. Hartings questioned spending $229,000 on extra work, called "alternates," that go beyond the base bid of $11,195,000.

Seven alternates were included in the bid awarded Tuesday.

Those included a tractor storage shed ($48,000), lighting protection ($45,000), terrazzo flooring ($105,200) and other items.

Seven alternates were not approved for the construction project, according to documents.

Deputy Superintendent Boyd Michael said the school system is required by the state to include alternates with every project.

"What we have selected are logical needs," Michael said. "Some of the alternates are more wants than needs. But what we have selected are logical needs."

School board approves $1.36 million in bids

The Washington County Board of Education approved about $1.36 million in bids Tuesday for kitchen and food needs, school buses, construction costs and utilities.

The vote was 5-0, with board members Paul W. Bailey and W. Edward Forrest absent.

The school board voted to spend about $38,800 for commercial storage and delivery of processed food products. The contract is with Accela Distribution & Warehousing Inc. of Hagerstown. Eleven schools will receive weekly deliveries.

The board approved a $1.17 million contract with Burton & Co. Inc., of Milford, Del., for three wheelchair lift buses and 13 other buses.

The board approved a $35,804 contract with Harwill Foodservice Equipment of Winchester, Va., to purchase food service kitchen equipment at Bester and Winter Street elementary schools.

A contract with Specialized Engineering in Ijamsville, Md., was approved to test and inspect the construction site for the new Antietam Academy, which is expected to be completed in 2010. The estimated cost is $25,910.

The school board approved a bid of $88,950 to install utilities to support portable classrooms being used for Antietam Academy students this year. Officials recently signed a lease for three portable classrooms, and the contract approved Tuesday will supply those buildings with water, electricity, instructional technology and other items.

The work will be done by Shifler Electrical Associates Inc. in Hagerstown.

School board approves online data-tracking system

Washington County Public Schools parents and teachers will continue to have access to an online student-data tracking system called Performance Matters.

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