Results

Washington County Public Schools

05/07/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 05/07/2021 13:57

Public Hearings Scheduled for Potential School Closures, Changes

REGARDING POTENTIAL SCHOOL CLOSURES THAT COULD IMPACT:

HANCOCK MIDDLE SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL
HANCOCK ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
CLEAR SPRING HIGH SCHOOL
CLEAR SPRING MIDDLE SCHOOL
CASCADE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
OLD FORGE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
SMITHSBURG ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

Tuesday, May 25, 2021, at Smithsburg High School (5:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.)

Wednesday, May 26, 2021, at Hancock Middle Senior High School (5:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.)

Background

On January 19, 2021, the Washington County Board of Education (BOE) charged the Facilities and Enrollment Advisory Committee (FEAC), a citizen-based advisory committee to the BOE, to review and make recommendations for school facilities with current and projected enrollments of less than 60% state rated capacity.

FEAC's Recommendations

On April 20, 2021, the BOE received the final report and recommendations from the FEAC, recommending the continued use of Marshall Street School, Clear Spring Middle School, and Clear Spring High School. The report also recommended the closure of Hancock Middle Senior High School (HMSHS) and Cascade Elementary School. These recommendations were made following a consideration and analysis process by the FEAC in accordance with the Charge it was given by the BOE.

Superintendent's Recommendations

The Superintendent of Schools reviewed the recommendations within the FEAC report and completed his own consideration process. Based on this review, the Superintendent has made the following recommendations to the BOE for its consideration:

  • The Superintendent endorses the FEAC's recommendations for the continued use of Marshall Street School, Clear Spring High School, and Clear Spring Middle School.
  • The Superintendent endorses the FEAC's recommendation for closing Cascade Elementary in an effort to improve the educational opportunities for students while operating facilities in the most cost-effective manner possible.
  • The Superintendent modifies the FEAC's recommendation to close Hancock Middle Senior High School:
  • The Superintendent recommends relocating HMSHS students in grades 9-12 to Clear Spring High School, thereby consolidating the two high schools.
  • The Superintendent recommends that Hancock Elementary School and HMSHS students in grades 6-8 would combine to create a new Hancock Elementary/Middle School that will serve pre-kindergarten through 8th grade at the current HMSHS location. HMSHS students in grades 6-8 would have the choice and opportunity to attend Clear Spring Middle School.

Public Hearings

The final decision regarding the future use of these schools will be made by the Board of Education. The BOE is seeking public comment and input regarding the Superintendent's recommendations during public hearings.

Two public hearings are scheduled on the matter:

Tuesday, May 25, 2021, at Smithsburg High School at 5:00 p.m.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021, at Hancock Middle Senior High School at 5:00 p.m.

BOE Policy KD indicates public hearings will last a maximum of two and a half (2 ½) hours but may conclude sooner if no additional participants who wish to speak are present. The hearings provide an opportunity for any person to address the BOE with feedback and concerns regarding the proposed school closures and changes.

Individuals can speak up to three (3) minutes and individuals speaking on behalf of an organization are provided five (5) minutes for comments. An organization may have one individual speak on its behalf. Further comments from organization members will be subject to the three (3) minute limitation. Community members who would like to speak are encouraged, but not required, to sign up in advance. Attendees can also sign up to speak at the meeting starting at 4:30 p.m. the day of the public hearing. Individuals who sign up in advance will speak first.

Community members can sign up to speak online at:

  • Tuesday, May 25, 2021 at Smithsburg High School (Register here)

  • Wednesday, May 26, 2021 at Hancock Middle Senior High School (Register here)

Individuals can also sign up in advance by contacting Debra Cechovic, secretary to the BOE, by calling 301-766-2971 or emailing [email protected]. Advance sign-ups will be accepted until 12:00 p.m. (noon) the day of the hearing.

Individuals requiring special accommodations are also asked to contact Ms.Cechovic at least five (5) business days in advance of the hearing so that appropriate arrangements can be made.

Due to COVID-19, participants may be asked to stage in other areas of the school before speaking in the auditorium. Participants must wear a face covering over their mouth and nose at all times and maintain social distancing of six feet or more from individuals who are outside their household.

Public Work Session

The BOE will hold a public work session on Thursday, May 13, 2021, from 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. to further discuss the Superintendent's recommendations on the matter. This work session does not include public participation. The public may watch the live broadcast on the WCPS cable channel, which is channel 99 for Antietam Cable subscribers. The meeting will also be streamed live online on the WCPS Facebook page (www.facebook.com/wcpsmd) and the WCPS website (http://wcpsmd.com/school-board/board-meetings).

Access to Reports

The full reports outlining the FEAC's recommendations and the Superintendent's recommendations are available on this page under the heading 'Documents.'

The public may also access a copy of the Superintendent's Report at the following locations:

  • Hancock Middle Senior High School
  • Hancock Elementary School
  • Clear Spring Middle School
  • Clear Spring High School
  • Cascade Elementary School
  • Old Forge Elementary School
  • Smithsburg Elementary School
  • Center for Education Services (10435 Downsville Pike in Hagerstown)

Additional Public Comment

Written public comments will be received and included in the official record until Thursday, June 10, 2021. Written correspondence should be emailed to [email protected] or addressed to:

Board of Education
10435 Downsville Pike
Hagerstown, MD 21740

Copies of written correspondence will be provided to all members of the BOE. Individuals who have previously provided feedback to the FEAC and the BOE in email or written correspondence already have their communication included in the official record.

Pending Vote

An official vote on this matter is tentatively planned for the BOE's public business meeting on June 15, 2021, at 6:00 p.m. at the Center for Education Services.

If community members have questions regarding the public hearings, contact [email protected] or call the Public Information Office at 301-766-2809.