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Redistricting panel to take proposals to school board

November 03, 2009|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN -- A committee formed to redistrict public elementary schools in Washington County will take its proposals to the Washington County Board of Education during a meeting Nov. 17.

The Facilities and Enrollment Advisory Committee on Tuesday wrapped up a series of more than 25 meetings over the last 10 months to address overcrowding in the school system.

Boyd Michael, deputy superintendent of Washington County Public Schools, said the board will examine the proposals and decide whether to accept them at a later date.

If the board accepts the committee's proposals, 20 of the county's 26 elementary schools, and about 1,500 of the school system's 10,000 elementary students would be affected.

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One of the most controversial decisions the committee made was to support the construction of the $25 million Eastern Primary School on the east end of Hagerstown. In October, the board voted to approve the school's construction.

Michael has said the state will pay $14 million of the school's cost and the county will pay $11 million.

If everything goes as planned, the school will open in August 2011.

Many parents said they opposed the project during three public forums in September because it calls for busing about 300 students from their existing schools to help fill Eastern Primary, which has a state-rated capacity of 695 students.

The committee will make more than 20 proposals to the board, including rerouting 90 Old Forge Elementary School students to Cascade Elementary School; 100 Winter Street students to the Eastern Complex, which includes Eastern Elementary School and Eastern Primary; 101 students from Potomac Heights Elementary School to Pangborn Elementary School; 124 Maugansville Elementary School students to Paramount Elementary School; and 195 Pangborn Elementary students to the Eastern Complex.

In addition to shuffling students, the committee will recommend considerations to alleviate overcrowding at Boonsboro Elementary School in the future, said Adam Lewis, co-chair of the Facilities and Enrollment Advisory Committee.

He praised the committee, which is made up of members of the community, for volunteering their time to create the proposals.

"It's been a very challenging task," Lewis said after the meeting Tuesday. "As a committee, we put together the best proposals and tried to take in the considerations that we heard from the public and staff."

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