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WCPS will no longer have early childhood center at HCC

About 150 who would have attended prekindergarten at campus will go to other schools in county

July 28, 2011|By JULIE E. GREENE | julieg@herald-mail.com

Washington County Public Schools no longer will use a building on Hagerstown Community College's campus for an early childhood center, a school official said Thursday.

The approximately 150 children who would have attended morning or afternoon prekindergarten or special education prekindergarten on HCC's campus will attend prekindergarten at Funkstown School for Early Childhood Education or Ruth Ann Monroe Primary School, Elementary Education Director Jill Burkhart said.

Deputy Schools Superintendent Boyd Michael said HCC officials expressed interest in the building space, and the school system has the space to move those prekindergartners back to regular school buildings.

Monroe Primary School, on Yale Drive off Mount Aetna Road, is a new school opening in August.

Space will open at Funkstown, which accommodated kindergarteners from Eastern Elementary School for years, Michael said. Kindergartners in Eastern's school district will attend Monroe.

The school system offers prekindergarten programs at several schools and used the HCC building as well, Burkhart said. Prekindergarten programs will continue to be offered at other schools, she said.

HCC spokeswoman Beth Stull said the small stone building stands alone on the east side of campus and has a playground. That area is being used by some of the College for Kids students during recess time this summer.

The building is being used for storage while other buildings on campus are being renovated, Stull said in a voicemail message Thursday. HCC officials are not planning to offer any courses in the building this fall.

For many years, the school system and HCC have had a memorandum of understanding that allows the school system to use the building for its early childhood program, Michael said. HCC paid the utility costs, he said.

Moving the program into regular school buildings will provide better program offerings and support for students and staff, Michael said.

While kindergarten enrollment in Washington County is mandatory, prekindergarten is voluntary, Burkhart said.

Families apply countywide to have a child enrolled in the prekindergarten program, Burkhart said. All income-eligible and age-eligible children who apply must be accommodated first, she said.

Families are not charged for the program, Burkhart said.

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