School board forum

August 17, 1998


Editor's note: We asked the candidates for Washington County School Board to answer five questions from Herald-Mail editors. Answers were limited to 60 words. Responses over that were edited.

Paul Bailey: Improving the school system, improving education throughout the nation, will require funding levels beyond those now in place. We need to be creative when developing budgets, eliminating waste and ineffectiveness. The reality is that additional dollars are going to be required if the citizens of Washington County want a public school system they can look to with great pride.

Lenora Barnhart: Yes, improving the system will cost money. We need to supply our teachers with the materials and administrative support to ensure their success in educating our children. Reduction of classroom sizes involves the hiring of additional teachers and physical expansion of our schools. There needs to be in place a systematic plan for improvement before seeking additional funding.


Marie Byers: Yes. We are a large school district with complex funding responsibilities. We need more teachers for smaller classes, particularly in grades K-3. We need more professional, competitive salaries. More mathematics teachers were needed this summer for replacement than we had applicants. Our 45 schools are in a 5-year cycle for replacement of roofs and flooring.

Gordon Crabb: Yes and no. More money enables maintenance and relief to schools overcrowding. Technology and other programs could benefit. However, vast improvement can be made without additional funding. The curriculum audit contained recommendations not requiring more money. They include staff reorganization, improved curriculum guides, improved communications, staff development suggestions, equality of resources, resolving class disruption and requiring more accountability.

William Cunningham: Yes. The Curriculum Management Audit has made several recommendations for improving Washington County Schools. Many of these recommendations will not require expenditure of additional funds.

The recommendation to revise the Technology Plan may require additional monies. With more business partnerships the amount of money needed may not be as great as without the help of the business community.

Philip Goldman: No. For the last 44 years each political initiative cost a lot of money but each initiative took us in the wrong direction. Yet initiatives have continued. I propose to take our educational system back 44 years and start there. Give every child equal opportunity to earn an education and get rid of politics.

Christina Hammer-Atkins: No. Improving the school system will not necessarily cost more money. The key is to work smarter with the funds that we have. We also need to be competitive in pay for teachers in order to keep the good teachers we have and attract new talent.

Herbert Hardin: Yes, it will cost more money to improve our school system. If for no other reasons than inflation and salary steps. The prediction that the more experienced and higher salaried teachers will be retiring in large numbers in the next five years, could offset some minimal financial demands. To get the best teachers, however, we must pay higher salaries.

Ricky Hockensmith: Improving our school system will involve the continuous effort of people's time and resources. Money is a factor, however I view participation and communication as key elements towards continuously improving our county's educational processes.

Bob Kline: Yes. We need more stability in our curriculum. Money is needed to hire more teachers who are qualified and our administrative salaries are not competitive enough to persuade teachers to stay in Washington County. This would also mean improved reading and math skills.

Mildred "Mickey" Myers: The board has a duty to the taxpayers and the educational system to study and provide policies that give a framework for good fiscal actions in all areas. Long range planning in student population projection, curriculum improvement needs, along with budget requirements is important. Sound policies should provide the very best for our students while using tax dollars wisely.

Dori Nipps: Yes, I believe so. Currently our teaching staff ranks among the lowest paid in the state and Tri-State region. The greatest impact on improving instruction is to attract and retain the best staff. Schools also have seen increasing costs in textbooks and expendable goods. We need to review current programs and eliminate those that are outdated and move monies elsewhere.

Stephen Popper: Yes. The audit had several recommendations that will add expense. However, the majority of the recommendations dealt with establishing clear direction; ongoing assessments of the curriculum, teachers and students; and making decisions using valid data. These are "process" changes. Innovative use of volunteer tutors and mentors could augment teachers. Money could also be saved through elimination of inefficient programs.

David Resh: Yes. To provide students in the Washington County Public School system a quality education requires a highly trained professional and support staff and facilities that are conducive to learning.

Addressing the problems of recruitment and retention of new teachers, competitive salaries for experienced staff, incorporation of new technology and equipment into classrooms, and upgrading facilities will require additional money.

Mary Wilfong: Yes. To make education a priority in Washington County, we need to invest in the establishment and evaluation of new programs and technologies. We need to increase salaries in order to attract and keep excellent teachers. However, there are many ways to improve education that do not cost money - better communication, improving teacher morale, parent involvement and citizen volunteers.

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