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Public meetings this week to discuss closing of Winter Street, Conococheague schools

May 29, 2012|By JULIE E. GREENE | julieg@herald-mail.com

Community members will have a chance to ask questions about the possible closing of Winter Street and Conococheague elementary schools and the proposed new “West City” elementary school that would replace them during information meetings Wednesday and Thursday nights.

Replacing the two older schools with a new one might affect more than just families who live in the Winter Street and Conococheague school districts if school system officials decide to redistrict in that area for the opening of the “West City” elementary school.

The 7 p.m. meetings will be at Maugansville Elementary on Wednesday and at Pangborn Elementary on Thursday to give community members a chance to see what a new “West City” school could look like.

The meetings will include remarks by school system officials, a slide show, a question-and-answer period and an opportunity to tour part of the schools, school system spokesman Richard Wright said.

Facilities and instructional officials, Winter Street and Conococheague principals, and Deputy Schools Superintendent Boyd Michael are expected to attend both meetings, Wright said. It’s possible Board of Education members or Superintendent Clayton Wilcox will attend, though Wilcox is planning to attend other school-based events this week, Wright said.

The school system is tentatively planning a public hearing regarding the possible closing of Conococheague and Winter Street elementary schools for June 19.

The tentative date for the school board to vote whether to approve closing the two schools is July 17.

Both elementary schools have overall ratings that list the facilities as inadequate.

Last week, the Washington County Commissioners voted 3-2 to approve a sale contract for a 16.5-acre tract in the Hager’s Crossing housing development on which the proposed “West City” school could be built. The commissioners can back out of the contract, which calls for a $1.5 million purchase price for the land and a 90-day study period that could be extended by as much as 60 days.

County and school system officials were looking for land between Winter Street Elementary, which was originally built in 1953 in Hagerstown’s West End, and Conococheague Elementary, which was built in 1960 off U.S. 40 west of Hagerstown. Winter Street underwent an addition and renovation in 1973.

Hager’s Crossing is behind Walmart in Hagerstown’s West End.

School bus access to the neighborhood would be via either end of Garland Groh Boulevard — off U.S. 40 or off Broadfording Road.

The Centre at Hagerstown and Shoppes at Hagerstown shopping centers are along Garland Groh Boulevard.

Hagerstown City Engineer Rodney Tissue said peak traffic hours for the Garland Groh area are not the same hours as school bus traffic. The peak traffic hours are Friday evenings and Saturdays with major backups occurring on Saturdays during the Christmas season, he said.

Tissue said city and Washington County officials are working on an arrangement in which developers, for any future development on Broadfording Road between Salem Avenue Extended and Hollyhock Road north of Best Buy, would make improvements to the road as a condition of developing the land, Tissue said. That includes widening that section to four lanes, he said.

There is no set schedule for that work now, Tissue said. The mayor and City Council are expected to discuss the issue in June, he said.

If you go...

What: Public information meetings about the proposed “West City” elementary school and the closings of Winter Street and Conococheague elementary schools.

When: 7 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday

Where: Maugansville Elementary School, 18023 Maugans Ave. (Wednesday) and Pangborn Elementary School, 195 Pangborn Blvd. (Thursday).

For more information: Call Washington County Public Schools at 301-766-2809.

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