More than 22,000 expected to start school year in Washington County Public Schools

August 23, 2011|By JULIE E. GREENE |
  • Smithsburg Elementary School library media specialist Alice Harr connects a flat screen TV in a classroom Tuesday. Washington County Public Schools open Wednesday.
By Kevin G. Gilbert, Staff Photographer

Where did those 83 days go?

It was just that long ago that Washington County Public Schools closed for the summer.

Wednesday more than 22,000 students are beginning a new school year with a new schools superintendent, Clayton Wilcox.

Almost 1,000 of those students will be attending a new school due to the second year of a two-year redistricting plan affecting several elementary schools.

Many of those students will be going to the new Ruth Ann Monroe Primary School, which is across the street from Eastern Elementary on Yale Drive in Hagerstown's East End.

The $25 million school will have prekindergarten through second grades, so Eastern will now have grades 3-5.

Monroe Primary is expecting to start the school year with about 635 students, including 80 prekindergarteners who attend a half day, school system officials said.

Another new school isn't expected until August 2014 when the new Bester Elementary School could open. The school board recently approved the design for that school.

Parents at Bester and Winter Street elementary schools had the option of sending their children to Rockland Woods or Potomac Heights elementary schools this school year after both Bester and Winter Street failed for the second consecutive year to meet proficiency standards on state assessment tests.

Parents of 76 students are taking advantage of school choice, school system spokesman Richard Wright said. Of the 68 students from the Bester school district, 52 will go to Rockland Woods and 16 to Potomac Heights. Of the eight students from the Winter Street school district, three will go to Rockland Woods and five to Potomac Heights.

Rockland Woods Elementary will have two additional teachers this school year, Wright said. One is from Bester, due to school choice, and the other came from Winter Street, due to redistricting, Wright said.

There are other situations in which schools will gain or lose teachers that might be related to redistricting or to shifting enrollments that occur unrelated to redistricting, Wright said.

Redistricting moves

The redistricting moves that kick in this school year include:


  • 125 students from Funkstown School for Early Childhood Education will move to the Eastern Complex, which includes Eastern Elementary and Monroe Primary.
  • 70 pre-kindergarten students from Bester to Funkstown.
  • 100 Winter Street students to the Eastern Complex.
  • 50 fifth-graders from Salem Avenue Elementary to Winter Street.
  • 50 Greenbrier Elementary students to the Eastern Complex.
  • 195 Pangborn Elementary students to the Eastern Complex.
  • 77 Fountaindale Elementary students to the Eastern Complex.
  • 101 Potomac Heights Elementary students to Pangborn Elementary.
  • 49 Paramount Elementary students to Pangborn.
  • 124 Maugansville Elementary students to Paramount Elementary.
  • 26 Salem Avenue students to the Eastern Complex.

At the middle school level, several schools are carving out time for a new class during the school day. The time will be used for a variety of things, including a bullying-prevention program and providing students with focused attention for intervention or advanced lessons.

A few school maintenance projects will also continue into the school year, though none will disrupt class or school activities, Wright said.

Those projects are a boiler/chiller replacement at Boonsboro Elementary, boiler replacements at Boonsboro High and Smithsburg High, and the installation of a fuel tank at Northern Middle.

Just 294 days, weather permitting, remain until school is out for the summer again.

Drivers asked to be aware of school children

With school beginning today, Washington County Public Schools students will be walking to school, waiting at bus stops and on school buses.

Transportation Supervisor Barbara Scotto asks drivers to be aware of school children, speed limits in school zones, and red lights and safety arms on school buses that signal other drivers to stop so children can safely board or get off buses.

Motorists might want to adjust their commuting routes and times to allow for delays behind school buses as they stop for students, Scotto said.

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