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Editorial - The next school chief

June 20, 1997

Finding a replacement for Washington County School Superintendent Wayne Gersen will not take a year, as previously reported, but should be accomplished by Thanksgiving of this year, according to Marie Byers, the school board president. The new timetable makes it even more important for citizens to provide input at a hearing this coming Wednesday at 7 p.m.

Byers said the process is being speeded up because of the board's budget cycle and a planned reorganization. The board wants the new superintendent involved in both, Byers said.

The new person will be designated acting superintendent at first, Byers said. Then, following the review by the state superintendent required by law, he or she will be confirmed superintendent between February and June of next year, Byers said, adding that applications are due July 11.

Do you have an idea about what qualifications a new superintendent should have? If so, you'll want to attend a public meeting this coming Wednesday, June 25, at 7 p.m. in the auditorium of the Board of Education's offices on Commonwealth Avenue. Byers said the meeting is being held to get input on what kind of person the next superintendent needs to be, and what his or her priorities should be.

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If you can't make this meeting, Byers said the school board will be accepting written comments until June 30. Send them to Superintendent Comments, c/o Washington County Board of Education, P.O. Box 730, Hagerstown, Md., 21741.

In our view, the next superintendent must be an advocate for education - to defend it, lobby for it and work publicly on its behalf. If such a person heard County Commissioner Jim Wade's proposal to charge parents for textbooks, he or she would acknowledge the truth contained within Wade's idea - more money is needed for textbooks - and turn it into something positive by beginning a community effort to raise cash for books, being careful, in the process, to share credit with Wade. It's a role the current superintendent was never comfortable with, but one that's vital for the school system's future success.

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