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Eastern Primary construction opposed at redistricting forum

September 24, 2009|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN -- Dozens of parents attended a public forum Thursday at Pangborn Elementary School to voice their opinions about a proposal that would redistrict about 1,500 elementary school students in Washington County.

The forum was the last of three to be held this month by the Facilities and Enrollment Advisory Committee, which was charged in January by the Washington County Board of Education with creating redistricting proposals.

Redistricting is being considered to alleviate overcrowding.

About 55 people, including Washington County Commissioner Kristin B. Aleshire and school board member Justin M. Hartings, attended the event.

Many of the people urged the committee members to seek more public input before they make a recommendation to the board about redistricting.

They spoke against the construction of the proposed Eastern Primary School on the east end of Hagerstown. If the plan goes forward, the $25 million school would be completed in August 2011 and accommodate roughly 695 students. A good portion of those students would be bused from other parts of the county.

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Deputy Superintendent Boyd Michael said after the forum that school officials opened bids for the project last week. Contracts could be awarded as early as next month, Michael said.

Dana Rice, president of the Pangborn Elementary PTA, told the committee that busing children from their current schools to Eastern Primary would disrupt the community.

She said parents often buy their home based on the quality of the schools.

"I purchased my home with the intention that my children would be going to Pangborn Elementary," Rice said. "I paid $400,000 for a home so my children could go to this nice facility."

Allen Jacobson, whose child attends Greenbrier Elementary, said he also opposed the construction of Eastern Primary.

"I would rather you did nothing than disrupt 1,500 students," he said.

Rob Rollins, executive director of school operations for Washington County Public Schools, said 20 of the 26 elementary schools in Washington County could be affected by redistricting.

Those schools are Bester, Boonsboro, Cascade, Conococheague, Eastern, Fountain Rock, Fountaindale, Funkstown Early Learning Center, Greenbrier, Lincolnshire, Maugansville, Old Forge, Pangborn, Paramount, Potomac Heights, Rockland Woods, Salem Avenue, Sharpsburg, Williamsport and Winter Street.

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