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Board asks questions about WCPS redistricting proposals

Ridenour says at least one more public hearing will be held on the issue

Ridenour says at least one more public hearing will be held on the issue

December 15, 2009|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN -- The Washington County Board of Education has moved one step closer to voting on a proposal that would reassign about 1,350 of the county's 10,000 elementary students to different schools.

During a 2 1/2-hour work session Tuesday, the board asked staff members questions about 23 reassignment proposals that the Facilities and Enrollment Advisory Committee, which includes parents, businesspeople and community leaders, prepared over the past 11 months.

The committee originally submitted a list of 24 proposals to reassign students to alleviate overcrowding, but Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan, who was required to review the suggestions before they went to the board, narrowed the number to 23.

Morgan said last week she didn't agree with the committee's suggestion to reassign about 44 students from Salem Avenue Elementary School to Winter Street Elementary School because Winter Street Elementary, which was built in 1953, needs to be modernized or replaced.

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Board President Wayne Ridenour stressed after the work session that nothing has been approved. The work session Tuesday merely provided the board with a chance to ask questions.

"We just have to make a determination if this is best for the community," Ridenour said.

He said before the board votes on the reassignment proposals during a meeting Jan. 19, it will hold at least one hearing to get more input from the public.

That hearing is to be Jan. 5 from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at South Hagerstown High School. If it is needed, a second public hearing would be Jan. 12 at Smithsburg High School.

Many of the questions the board asked Tuesday focused on the amount of time the reassigned students would have to spend on school buses and the number of students in each class.

Rob Rollins, executive director of school operations for Washington County Public Schools, said the bus rides would be similar to what they are now.

"Some students might be getting a longer ride, and some students might be getting a shorter ride," he said.

Michael Markoe, assistant superintendent of elementary education for Washington County Public Schools, said the goal is to get elementary class sizes as close to 21 students as possible. He said elementary class sizes currently range from 16 to 33 students.

Although public comments were not allowed during the work session, some members of the community sat and listened as the board asked questions.

Keedysville resident Linda Downs said after the work session that she intended to oppose the redistricting proposal in her area, which would reassign about 28 Boonsboro Elementary School students to Pleasant Valley Elementary School.

Downs said the committee threw in the proposal at the last minute after the public was given a chance to weigh in.

"There really hasn't been any availability to have public comments," said Downs, who has two children at Boonsboro Elementary. "It's gonna divide my community."

Final redistricting proposals



The final proposals for reassigning students are listed below. All numbers are approximate:

o 125 students from Funkstown Elementary School to the Eastern Complex, which includes Eastern Elementary School and Eastern Primary School

o 70 pre-kindergarten students from Bester Elementary School to Funkstown Elementary

o 30 Conococheague Elementary School students to Lincolnshire Elementary School

o 66 Conococheague Elementary students to Williamsport Elementary School

o 15 Conococheague Elementary students to Maugansville Elementary School

o 34 Winter Street Elementary School students to Lincolnshire Elementary

o 100 Winter Street Elementary students to the Eastern Complex

o 50 fifth-graders from Salem Avenue Elementary School to Winter Street Elementary

o 50 Greenbrier Elementary School students to the Eastern Complex

o 90 Old Forge Elementary School students to Cascade Elementary School

o 50 Greenbrier Elementary students to Old Forge Elementary

o 28 Sharpsburg Elementary School students to Fountain Rock Elementary School

o 195 Pangborn Elementary School students to the Eastern Complex

o 77 Fountaindale Elementary School students to the Eastern Complex

o 101 Potomac Heights Elementary School students to Pangborn Elementary

o 49 Paramount Elementary School students to Pangborn Elementary

o 124 Maugansville Elementary students to Paramount Elementary

o 26 Salem Avenue Elementary students to the Eastern Complex

o 18 Rockland Woods Elementary School students to Fountain Rock Elementary

o 16 Rockland Woods Elementary students to Fountain Rock Elementary

o 42 Boonsboro Elementary School students to Rockland Woods Elementary

o Four Boonsboro Elementary students to Rockland Woods Elementary

o 28 Boonsboro Elementary students to Pleasant Valley Elementary School

If you go...



What: Public hearing on school redistricting proposals

When: Jan. 5, 6:30 to 9 p.m.

Where: South Hagerstown High School

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