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By Jenna Johnson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 18, 2007

"Communication" was the buzzword at a joint meeting of the St. Mary's County commissioners and Board of Education on Tuesday, as attendees discussed issues such as the county's first charter school, the budget process and enrollment numbers.

More meetings such as this could "take care of problems before they become big problems," County Administrator John Savich said.

Schools Superintendent Michael J. Martirano agreed, saying he hoped the meeting would lead to continued communication between the two boards, whose members often find themselves at odds during the budget process.

Martirano opened the meeting, held at the Harry Lundeberg School of Seamanship at Piney Point, with a presentation on the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Consortium, a series of public and private partnerships formed as a local education step toward addressing the national and worldwide shortage of science and math professionals.

From there, he updated commissioners and school board members on the Chesapeake Public Charter School, which opened this fall. Although the Board of Education originally questioned the charter group's plans, Martirano said he wants the new school to succeed. School board member Cathy Allen (Hollywood) said she has received complaints from parents that the school does not have playground equipment or books in its media center.

The school system also plans to break ground at the end of the month on the county's first new elementary school since 1980. The two-story school, named Evergreen, was designed to leave only a "small footprint" on the environment. The $20 million "green school" is to feature natural lighting, waterless urinals and a vegetated roof designed to reduce energy use by up to 25 percent and water use by up to 40 percent.

Water Restrictions Help

Charles County officials said this week that voluntary water conservation measures instituted because of the prolonged drought are working.

A statement issued by the county commissioners praised the efforts of Charles residents to use less water. "The conservation efforts of our citizens help to ensure the safety of our water supply in Charles County," said the commissioners' statement.

At the beginning of October, water usage in Charles County was at about 82 percent capacity, Department of Utilities officials said. As of Saturday, usage had dropped to 73 percent.

Because drought conditions are persisting throughout the region, Charles officials asked citizens to continue to conserve water.

Meeting on Proposals

The St. Mary's County commissioners and the county's state legislative delegation scheduled a joint meeting for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in Room 14 of the Governmental Center in Leonardtown to present the legislative proposals received for consideration as part of the county's 2008 Legislative Package and to receive additional proposals.

Ideas submitted included these proposals:


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