UPDATE: Washington County’s Board of Education voted on Tuesday that Hancock Middle-Senior High School and Cascade Elementary will remain open.
The board voted six to one during the meeting. Last week, two public hearings were held on whether or not to close the school – the meetings drew an outpouring of support from the community to keep both schools open.
HANCOCK, Md. (WDVM) — The Washington County Board of Education is debating closing two schools in western Washington county, one of which is Hancock Middle-Senior High. If the Board votes to close the school, the high school students will be bussed to Clear Spring High School, nearly 17 miles away.
A hearing was held on Wednesday for community members to voice their concerns. Decked out in school colors and shirts saying “Save Our School”, dozens of local residents poured into the school to say their piece.
“People that live outside of Hancock fail to see the good things that come out of this community,” one speaker said during the hearing.
Many participants in the hearing said the decision of whether or not to close the school could potentially affect the future population of the entire town. According to the mayor of Hancock, the town is facing a low residential population, and closing the school will only push more people out of the area.
“Closing our school would really impact that because not everybody’s gonna want to move to a community that doesn’t have a school that their kids can go to,” said Mayor Tim Smith.
Some parents and children also said closing the school would break generations of people attending Hancock High.
“I would kind of feel upset because my parents, my grandma, and a bunch of my siblings have went there, and I kind of feel upset and left out of going here,” said Kyleigh boyer, a 3rd grade student at Hancock Elementary who spoke during the hearing.
Other points brought up included the safety of the students who would need to be bussed several miles across I-70, where car accidents and heavy traffic are common, and the lack of individual attention children would receive in larger classrooms at Clear Spring High School.
Teachers have also been put into a tough position, as none of them have at this point been guaranteed a new position following a closure.
“Where are they gonna go work at?” asked Smith. “You know, are they being offered a job at Clear Spring? Are they gonna be looking for a job somewhere else? Because nobody has said if the teachers from Hancock are gonna go to Clear Spring.”
The Board of Education will vote on whether or not to close the school during a meeting in June.