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Opinions mixed on proposed elementary school in Hager's Crossing

May 31, 2012|By C.J. LOVELACE | cj.lovelace@herald-mail.com

Washington County Public Schools officials fielded more questions Thursday night about a proposal to build a new elementary school in Hagerstown’s West End.

About 20 people, including parents, teachers and administrators, gathered at Pangborn Elementary School for the second of two public information meetings for the new “West City” elementary school, which would be built on a 16.5-acre tract in Hager’s Crossing behind the Garland Groh Boulevard shopping center.

Opinions were mixed at the hourlong meeting, with a few people expressing concerns about moving the students of Winter Street Elementary School to a new location. Others were encouraged by a new school that would enhance safety, technology and learning available to students.

The proposed West City school would replace Winter Street and Conococheague elementary schools.

David Carpenter, whose family members have attended Winter Street for generations, said he was curious why the two schools are being combined when Conococheague is “seven or eight miles outside of town.”
“I do not think (Winter Street) should be moved,” he said.

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Bill Knode, president of the Winter Street alumni organization, said the elementary school is a landmark in the West End.

“If we lose this school, it’ll be gone for forever,” Knode said.

Crystal Garcia, a resident of Hager’s Crossing, said she had concerns about an increase of crime — such as home burglaries or child predators — that could result from the school being built in the neighborhood.

Garcia said she would rather see the money that would be spent on a new building go toward improving other schools.

Others spoke in support of the proposed school, which would be able to offer students better classroom technology and specialized teaching rooms, school officials said.

Mike Procuk, who lives in Hager’s Crossing near the proposed site, welcomed the possibility of the school being built in the neighborhood.

“I only speak for myself, but I can say that there are people in this community ... who look forward to growing as a community and welcoming into our community, our area, students who were displaced as part of the redistricting that will take place,” he said.

Three speakers shared concerns about having to bus students to the new location, especially with the heavy traffic near the shopping center.

Teacher Karen McCarthy, another Hager’s Crossing resident, said she was “extremely fortunate” to teach at Ruth Ann Monroe Primary School, which has technology available to students that is “out of this world.”

“It’s clean, new. It’s awesome,” she said, noting that the new school would benefit greatly from the close-knit school community that Winter Street has developed over the years. “And I would be delighted and honored to teach at the West City school.”

Deputy Superintendent of Schools Boyd Michael said the meetings were intended to generate comments and questions. Answers to questions will be posted on the county schools’ website, he said.

A public hearing before the Washington County Board of Education to discuss the closing of Winter Street and Conococheague elementary schools is slated for Tuesday, June 19, at 6:30 p.m. at the school system’s Central Office in Hagerstown.

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