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Students sponsor forum for School Board candidates

October 18, 2000

Students sponsor forum for School Board candidates



By TARA REILLY / Staff Writer


Washington County School Board candidates gathered at the Washington County Technical High School Wednesday afternoon for the second of three forums before the Nov. 7 election.

The latest forum was sponsored by the Washington County Association of Student Councils. Seven of the eight candidates attended the forum and were given two minutes to respond to questions from students. About 40 students were in the audience.

Incumbents Edwin Hayes and Doris Nipps attended. Andrew Humphreys was absent. Challengers John Cohen, Ed Forrest, Roxanne Ober, Bernadette Wagner and Russell Williams were also in attendance. Four candidates will be elected to the seven-member board.

Ober and Wagner are running on a slate, which means voters would cast ballots for both candidates. The two, however, would be counted as separate board members and take up two seats if elected.

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Here's what the candidates had to say:

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Cohen: Favors bringing religion back into the schools, stating the lack of religious guidance is contributing to the "moral decline" of schools. "When that was removed, everything went downhill." Thinks a good portion of Board of Education money is being wasted on non-teaching jobs. Favors an after-school instrumental program on the elementary level.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Forrest: Would support looking into the Board of Education paying for student costs for the advanced placement exams. Thinks the community should be made aware of school safety plans and procedures and that teacher salaries should be competitive to attract and retain teachers.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Hayes: Thinks the board should use creative methods to attract teachers but that finding those teachers will be hard because of a nationwide shortage. "How can you recruit teachers when the people in this audience don't want to be teachers?" Opposes giving student board members the right to vote, stating it's the community's job to elect who it wants to decide who should be a voting member of the School Board.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Nipps: Favors an after-school band program in elementary schools and thinks the Board of Education should pick up the tab on advanced placement tests for students. Opposes students becoming voting members of the School Board. Also opposes metal detectors and "lockdowns" as methods of school safety, stating it would make schools feel like an institution.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Ober: Favors revamping and improving the teacher pay scale and developing a mentoring program for teachers to help retain instructors, claiming half of all Washington County teachers leave the county after two years of teaching. Favors after-school instrumental music programs, the Board of Education paying for advanced placement exams and a standard schedule for all students.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Wagner: Favors locking all school doors except for main entrances to help keep students safe. She also favors having monitors stationed at the front doors of every school and putting telephones in all classrooms in case of emergencies. "We need to keep the doors locked. I think student safety needs to come first."

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Williams: Thinks a good approach to attracting and retaining teachers would be to "pay them more money," even if it means raising taxes. Also thinks signing bonuses and housing allowances would help. Thinks school instrumental music programs should be taught by trained professionals and that an after-school elementary music program should be implemented if the community wants it.

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