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Candidates speak at School Board hearing

January 06, 2000|By LAURA ERNDE

Two Washington County Board of Education candidates were the lone voices at a public hearing Thursday on Washington County schools' proposed $120 million budget.

John Cohen said he would like to see Bible readings and prayer restored in schools.

"I think we need to consider something having to do with morals interwoven and not something separate," he said.

Russell F. Williams complained that the school system doesn't listen to parents or inform them of changes that affect them.

For example, parents at the Job Development Center didn't learn until recently that the administration was being reorganized, he said.

Schools Superintendent Herman G. Bartlett Jr.'s proposed 2001 operating budget calls for a 10 percent increase in spending over this year.

The additional $6.8 million would be used primarily to raise teacher salaries and make them more competitive.

Despite a raise last year, Washington County's teacher salaries are still below state averages.

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The proposed salary hike will cost $4.5 million.

The budget also includes $20,000 for hiring bonuses.

It would extend a reading program into the high schools, adding seven new literacy teachers at a cost of $258,300.

Three new guidance counselors would cost $154,050.

Citizens who missed the public hearing still have a chance to comment. Copies of Bartlett's proposal are available at the Central Office on Commonwealth Avenue.

The school board will make changes and adopt its own version of the budget to submit to the Washington County Commissioners Feb. 28. The commissioners fund a large portion of the School Board's budget.

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