HANCOCK, Md. (WDVM) — Possible plans to consolidate some Washington County schools aren’t sitting well in those affected communities.
Supporters of this Potomac River town’s middle and high school are pushing back against any such designs by the school board. The board insists that, while declining enrollment is driving their decision, nothing is final. Hancock Town Manager Joe Gilbert is making the case to keep the schoolhouse doors open.
“The school in any community is really a lifeblood of that community,” said Gilbert. “And it’s more than just the academics for the students, it’s the extracurricular activities, the sports, theater, arts, and all the other activities for the community that the school represents.”
Gilbert is the first to admit that class sizes are small in Hancock and the economies of scale are nowhere near that of schools with a larger student population. Erin Anderson, spokesperson for the Washington County school board, said that perspective is being taken into account
“If there is a plan to close of a school facility, the board’s job is also to review the impact on the community of that decision,” Anderson stated.
Gilbert has been working to grow Hancock as a tourist destination with the C & O Canal, touting its accessibility from two heavily traveled exits off Interstate 70. “Just please bear with us,” he wants the school board to know.
“The economic conditions are changing,” says Gilbert. “There’s an old Hancock. But we’re moving to a new Hancock.”
School officials emphasize these plans are tentative. And a plan to consolidate the Marshall Street school in Hagerstown has been shelved since it has a special needs curriculum.