FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Carol Mowen, 301-766-2996; Mr. John Hull, 301-766-2823.
HAGERSTOWN, MD (January 30, 2002) -- The Washington County Board of Education voted last night to implement redistricting in order to immediately alleviate overcrowding at some of the county's schools. The Board is also considering the next steps needed to address the transition process for students, families, and staff, and to continue to address the ongoing needs of balancing enrollments throughout Washington County.
"We are now looking at needs in the areas of staffing, materials, supplies, and transportation," said Interim Superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Morgan. "In addition, we are putting together several study groups to consider the possibility of magnet programs, paired schools, and "charter-like" schools in the downtown area or in other parts of the county to address balancing enrollments, while at the same time providing instructional enhancements for students."
Study groups may consider new organizational patterns or programs that could enhance the education of Washington County's students. Patterns could include sister-schools or "paired schools", K-8 schools, or the creation of feeder patterns based on criteria other than location. The following options may be studied:
- Elementary and middle magnet programs for music or fine arts that would provide the opportunity for students to begin the study of instrumental music in the primary grades and carry through eighth grade. Students from these programs could eventually attend a high school where they could delve into performance options while also meeting high school graduation requirements.
- Specific elementary and middle magnet programs and high school signature programs that would provide the opportunity for students to concentrate on areas related to math and science, communication arts, or leadership and International Studies (International Baccalaureate program).
- Non-traditional approaches to high school scheduling so that some students could complete high school on a fast track in three years, while others could take five years to benefit from additional electives and to solidify their skills.
Dr. Morgan and the Board noted that many positives have come from the work of the Blue Ribbon Redistricting Committee and the input from the community during the redistricting process.
"The total needs of our schools came to the forefront during the work of the BRRC," said Dr. Morgan.
For example, building repairs at several schools and the need for a cafeteria at Fountain Rock Elementary were cited during recent public meetings.
The Board and staff are now considering the next steps. First, letters will be sent via US Mail to the parents and guardians of students affected by the redistricting. One letter clarifies what school their children will be attending in the fall, and a second letter explains the special permission process for students currently in grades 4, 7, 9, 10, and 11. If students wish to remain in their current schools, a special permission form must be submitted. The deadline to request a special permission for redistricting is March 1, 2002.
"It is very important for parents who want their children to remain in their current schools who have been affected by redistricting to complete the paperwork and to get their requests back to the Office of Student Services by March 1 so that we can move forward in planning," said Board president Ed Forrest.
"We are already gearing up for scheduling at our high schools and middle schools," said Interim Executive Director for Curriculum and Instruction Dr. Linda Fernandez. "In order to be ready for fall, we start planning now."
SUMMARY OF BOARD ACTION ON REDISTRICTING
SUMMARY OF BOARD ACTION ON REDISTRICTING, January 29, 2002:
The Washington County Board of Education deliberated and gave approval to the following redistricting proposals:
- On a motion by Bernadette Wagner, seconded by Herbert Hardin, the Board voted to enlarge Funkstown Elementary School boundaries to include area south of Dual Highway as noted on Boundary Description A. Approved 7-0. (Affects approximately 32 Eastern Elementary students to Funkstown to ease overcrowding at Eastern.)
- On a motion by Doris Nipps, seconded by Mary Wilfong, the Board voted to enlarge Pangborn Blvd. Elementary School boundaries to include the area east of Mulberry Street as noted on Boundary Description B. Approved 7-0. (Affects approximately 44 Eastern Elementary students to Pangborn to ease overcrowding at Eastern.)
- On a motion by Mrs. Wilfong, seconded by Mrs. Wagner, the Board voted to monitor and study the movement of students from Eastern Elementary School to Potomac Heights Elementary School after studying the impact of special permissions and possible magnet programs. Approved 4-3.
- On a motion by Mrs. Nipps, seconded by Mr. Hardin, the Board voted to enlarge Fountain Rock Elementary School boundaries west to Potomac River as noted on Boundary Description D. Approved 6-1. (Affects approximately 38 Williamsport Elementary students to Fountain Rock to ease overcrowding at Williamsport. This does not affect the feeder system; students still move to Springfield Middle.)
- On a motion by Mrs. Nipps, seconded by Paul Bailey, the Board voted to enlarge South Hagerstown High School boundaries to include Garis Shop Road as noted on Boundary Description E. Approved 7-0. (Affects approximately 5 incoming ninth grade students from Boonsboro Middle who would have attended Boonsboro High. Approximately 8 students presently at BHS are expected to apply for special permission to complete their high school years at BHS. The move aligns the feeder pattern.)
- On a motion by Mrs. Wilfong, seconded by Mrs. Wagner, the Board voted to enlarge South Hagerstown High School boundaries to include the area from West Washington Street to Norfolk-Southern tracks (portion of Salem Avenue and Winter Street elementary schools as noted on Boundary Description E. Approved 7-0. (Affects approximately 64 incoming ninth grade students from Western Heights who would have attended North Hagerstown High. Approximately 162 students presently at NHHS are expected to apply for special permission to complete their high school careers at NHHS.)
- On a motion by Mrs. Nipps, seconded by Mr. Bailey, the Board voted to enlarge E. Russell Hicks Middle School boundaries to include area along Garis Shop Road as noted on Boundary Description F. Approved 7-0. (Affects approximately 4 students from Boonsboro Middle. This move aligns a feeder pattern.)
- On a motion by Mrs. Wilfong, seconded by Mr. Hardin, the Board voted to monitor and study growth (including the possible impact of special permissions and signature programs) to consider enlarging the Boonsboro High School boundaries to include the area between the Old Baltimore and Ohio tracks and the Norfolk-Southern tracks south of Roxbury Road as noted on Boundary Description G. Approved 5-2. (Would potentially redistrict students from Springfield Middle/Williamsport High to Boonsboro Middle/Boonsboro High.)
- On a motion by Mrs. Wilfong, seconded by Mr. Hardin, the Board voted to consider changing the boundaries of the Boonsboro and Smithsburg high schools after two years of monitoring the status of the school. Approved 4-3. (Would potentially redistrict students from Boonsboro Middle/Boonsboro High students to Smithsburg Middle/Smithsburg High.)
- On a motion by Mrs. Nipps, seconded by Mrs. Wagner, the Board voted to move the consideration of the Maugansville and Conococheague facilities to the Capital Improvement Plan process for further discussion. Approved 7-0.
- On a motion by Mr. Hardin, seconded by Mr. Bailey, the Board voted to consider the expansion of E. R. Hicks Middle School boundaries through the Capital Improvement Plan process. Approved 7-0.
- On a motion by Mrs. Nipps, seconded by Mrs. Wagner, the Board voted to allow students currently in grades 4, 7, 9, 10, and 11, who are affected by the current redistricting to apply for special permission to remain at their current schools