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Welcome to the current issue of the Garrett County Gazette. I’m Chris Nichols, your guide to helping you find out what’s going on, what’s coming up and interesting tidbits from the area. Let’s jump right in!
No school closures(for another year at least)
Over the past few months, the Garrett County Board of Education has been considering some controversial measures including:
closing Swan Meadow and Route 40 Elementary Schoolsessentially eliminate Northern Middle School by realigning the grade bands for the High and Elementary SchoolsOn April 11th, the Board voted to reject the current Superintendent’s recommendation to close Swan Meadow and Route 40 schools. But since the Superintendent is retiring this summer, it’s clear that this is just a temporary stay of execution. The process of “grade band realignment” for the northern half of the County appears to still proceeding.There are two big drivers behind this problem – declining enrollment and a disadvantageous state funding process. Looking at the enrollment data, the picture is bleak. Enrollment has gone down by almost 20% in the past decade. Not only is the overall population of Garrett County shrinking, but more families are choosing to homeschool their children. Lower public school enrollment means less funding and underutilized buildings, buses and staff.
The funding side of the equation is very complicated and I don’t claim to understand it, but the above graph shows how our county’s school system is disadvantaged when it comes to funding. State of MD funding per pupil is displayed in the graph for the western three counties and the Statewide average. The funding per pupil from the State for Garrett County (red line) is clearly lower than the statewide average and even flattens out – you would expect this for wealthier and more populous counties, not one that has lost almost a fifth of its students over the past 10 years and has many of its kids on free lunch programs. Again, the full story is complicated, but much of this funding mismatch comes from the high property values around the lake.
So, even though there’s some breathing room for the students and parents for now, this is a problem that looks like it’s just going to get worse. While national-level demographic, social and societal trends are driving this issue locally, the high cost of housing in Garrett County plays a large role too, both in the declining enrollment and skewed funding process.
If you’d like to get more informed, or more engaged, I’d reccommend checking out this Facebook GroupFor more information on the realignment and potential closures, check out the GCPS Information Page And the last graph came from: A Data Deep Dive into Western Maryland’s Schools, from the MD Department of Education
The subject of trails has been in the local news lately. I decided to add my 2 cents worth to the discussion with a video of what new trails I’d like to see in Garrett County. Watch the narrated version on my Youtube channel, download the slides here, or check out the blog post. One of the themes in my wishlist is to connect existing trails. My two areas of interest that I focused on are backpacking, so I have a couple of suggestions to create some more backpacking loops, and rail-trail type biking, so I threw out some ideas on how to connect Garrett County to regional rail-trail systems.
Above, one of the slides from the presentation shows regional rail-trail networks around Garrett County. It will be a challenge, but I think making our area the crossroads of these trails would be an investment that would substantially pay off. On a related note, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources is seeking public comment on the FY24 State Forest Annual Work Plans. Although the primary mission of the State Forests isn’t necessarily trails and recreation, it is a large part of it. These public comment opportunities are a great time to make your trail wishes known!If you want more info on how to comment and to see what some other outdoor enthusiasts are planning on commenting on, check out this discussion post on the Garrett County Outdoors group on Facebook.
Ultimate Map of Deep Creek Lake
The Kickstarter (pre-order) campaign for my Ultimate map of Deep Creek Lake is ending soon! Be sure to head over and make your pledge today – if we don’t hit the funding goal, it won’t get printed!
Ah, the more things change, the more they stay the same! Above is a clipping from the Sunday edition of a Baltimore newspaper from 1927. The author, Emily Emerson Lantz, wrote a series of articles on the counties of Maryland for the paper over this period, and what’s remarkable is that almost 100 years ago, with Deep Creek Lake just a few years old, the highlights of Garrett County – forests, mountains, farms – were the same as they are today.
Do you want to read the full article and see what Garrett County was like in 1927? This article been transcribed electronically and is being reproduced in a multi-part article in the Garrett County Historical Society‘s Glades Star. As a member of the GCHS, you’ll receive 4 history-packed issues of the Glades Star each year. Join today if you’re not a member! Just $25 per year (makes a great gift, too!)
1st Annual “Walk for Recovery” May 13 @ Deep Creek Lake State Park: Two mile walk to benefit Reflection House
Grantsville National Road Festival May 17-20 @ Grantsville: wagon train, live music, food specials, town-wide yard sale and more
Real Estate Corner
Be sure to check out the 2023 Taylor Made Deep Creek Real Estate guide and area info book! Packed with great info on the area, real estate tips and of course some amazing Deep Creek Lake & Garrett Co properties. You can stop by our office or find them at many area businesses.
When you’ve found a property you want, contact me to learn more. Let me put my local knowledge to work for YOU meeting your real estate goals!
Check out my real estate website as well for more information on what’s out there, or call or email me anytime to chat about what’s going on in the market and how to build a strategy to meet your real estate goals!
Mobile: 301 616-7881
Office: 301 387-4700
Chris Nichols, real estate agent
26 Kuhnle Dr, Swanton
United States of America
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