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Morgan backs most WCPS redistricting proposals

December 08, 2009|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN -- The superintendent of Washington County Public Schools on Tuesday endorsed 23 of 24 proposals presented by a committee last month to alleviate overcrowding in elementary schools across the county.

Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan said during a Washington County Board of Education meeting the only proposal she disagreed with was one to reassign 44 Salem Avenue Elementary School students to Winter Street Elementary School.

Morgan said the students shouldn't be reassigned to Winter Street Elementary School because the building, which was built in 1953, needs to be modernized or replaced.

The Facilities and Enrollment Advisory Committee was formed in January to create ways to redistrict elementary schools in Washington County. After meeting about 20 times from January to November, the committee, which included parents, businespeople and community leaders, turned in its final 24 proposals to the board last month.

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The proposals suggested reassigning about 1,400 of the county's 10,000 elementary students to different schools.

"They were involved passionately in this task," Morgan said. "I commend them for their work and their dedication."

Morgan said school officials were proactive in their fight against overcrowding by opening three new elementary schools -- Maugansville, Pangborn and Rockland Woods -- for the 2008-09 school year. A fourth school, Eastern Primary, is to open in August 2011 on the east end of Hagerstown.

Eastern Primary has a state-rated capacity of 695 students.

Morgan said by building larger, state-of-the-art schools, children will be exposed to a higher quality of education through smaller classroom sizes.

"It is my job to advocate for all children," Morgan said. "That is what I'll continue to do."

The board will hold a televised work session Dec. 15 to further discuss the matter, and a public hearing Jan. 5 to receive more public input. If necessary, a second public hearing would be Jan. 12.

The board is to vote on the redistricting proposals during a Jan. 19 meeting.

In September, dozens of parents attended public forums to oppose the construction of Eastern Primary, saying the school was being built in the wrong place at the wrong time. Many of those parents said the school should have been considered in South County, where overcrowding is an immediate issue.

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