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Byers seeking eighth term on school board

April 08, 1998|By KERRY LYNN FRALEY

B. Marie Byers is seeking an eighth term on the Washington County Board of Education.

Byers, 63, was appointed to the school board for a four-year term in 1970 and has served continuously since then.

During her first term, the school board was changed from an appointed to an elected board, and Byers successfully ran to retain her seat in 1974, she said.

If re-elected, it would be her first term on a seven-member board, said Byers, who started lobbying for the board's expansion from five to seven members in 1986 and finally saw it happen last year.

Byers, a product of Washington County public schools, taught in county elementary schools for six years.

Currently vice president of the board, she has served 12 times as board president and 10 times as vice president.

Her involvement in education has spread beyond the county to state and national leadership roles. She has been president, treasurer and secretary of the Maryland Association of Boards of Education and a member of the National School Board Association.

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Byers said her experience is an asset.

"School board service is very complex, not a singular responsibility. There are so many aspects to have knowledge about," she said.

After 28 years on the school board, the job has not gotten stale, Byers said.

"Every day is a new day," she said. "I'm always learning. I guess that's why it's so invigorating."

Themes in this campaign will include maximizing student achievement, improving technology in the schools and addressing diversity, Byers said.

Because classroom teachers are key to a good educational system, they need better salaries and improved professional development, she said.

Professional development should include training in using different strategies so that all students can achieve maximum success, Byers said.

The system must step up creative financing efforts, like local business partnerships, corporate technology grants and other grants, to supplement state aid and the county's contribution to the schools budget, she said.

Byers lives with her husband, Jack Byers, in Hagerstown. They have three grown children and three grandchildren.

If more than 10 people file for school board, a primary election will be held on Sept. 15, with the top 10 vote-getters vying for five seats in the general election on Nov. 3.

At this point, the top five vote-getters would serve four-year terms.

Legislation under consideration in the Maryland General Assembly would stagger the terms, with the three highest voter-getters serving four-year terms and the other two serving two-year terms.

School board members earn $3,200 a year, and the president makes an extra $100.

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