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School Board candidates air positions in last forum

October 19, 2000

School Board candidates air positions in last forum



By TARA REILLY / Staff Writer


Seven of the eight Washington County School Board candidates faced off Thursday night in the final forum before the Nov. 7 election.

The forum, sponsored by the League of Women Voters and the Hagerstown Community College state and local government class was held in the Classroom Building auditorium. About 45 people attended.

Incumbents Edwin Hayes and Doris Nipps were there, as well as challengers John Cohen, Edward Forrest, Roxanne Ober, Bernadette Wagner and Russell Williams. Incumbent Andrew Humphreys was absent.

Ober and Wagner are campaigning as a team but would occupy two seats on the board if elected. Voters have the option of choosing both candidates on election day, or they can vote for one or the other, according to Ober and Wagner.

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Candidates were asked three questions from moderator Ed Sharpe, and then received questions from the audience. Each candidate had one minute to answer the questions.

This is what the candidates said:

-Cohen: Thinks the Board of Education should look at the budget to try to find places where money could be saved. That money could then be used to upgrade school libraries. Also thinks attending college after high school should be up to the student. Teachers should be tested as a way of determining if they're qualified for their subject areas. Believes more teachers would have to be hired in order to lower class size and says he's not convinced that lower class size enhances education. Opposes appointing a non-voting teacher to the School Board.

-Forrest: Opposes prayer being led by school officials, stating the moment of silence allotted every morning is an ample opportunity for individual prayer. Favors a close analysis of the school budget to pull out any obsolete or redundant programs. Also favors hiring guidance counselors for every school in the system and providing teachers with appropriate professional development for new programs. Opposes hiring less qualified or part-time employees to save money.

-Hayes: Favors professional development for teachers for new technological or instructional programs. Opposes putting limits on the amount of homework teachers assign, believing that would also put limits on teachers. Thinks the public should be aware that Washington County teachers are among the lowest paid in the state. Opposes appointing a non-voting teacher to the School.

-Nipps: Favors seeking grants, public support and lobbying county commissioners for money to upgrade school libraries. Believes the Board of Education has created the school system's budget based on priorities and would not propose cutting anything to save money. Favors re-evaluating intervention programs that attempt to keep students from dropping out of school and thinks intervention needs to start in elementary schools. Opposes appointing a non-voting teacher to the School Board without talking with the other discussion groups first.

-Ober: Favors re-activating the Washington County Educational Foundation as a source of alternative funds for the school system, partnering with businesses as a source of funds and using internships with businesses as educational sources for students. Thinks a boot-camp type school could be a positive for some students. Favors hiring more guidance counselors.

-Wagner: Believes prayer does not have a place in public schools if its school-led, but thinks it acceptable on an individual basis. Favors appointing a non-voting teacher to the elected board and re-activating the Washington County Educational Foundation as a source of alternative funding. Also thinks teachers, other school employees, community members, parents and businesses should be a part of the communication process with the Board of Education.

-Williams: Believes the school system should tighten whatever school safety measures its using now rather than spend more money on security. The money saved could be used on other educational necessities. Believes there should be limits on the amount of homework teachers give to students. Opposes hiring less qualified or part-time personnel to save money. Favors reducing teacher workloads and keeping a pension plan for retired employees.

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