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Bartlett shouldn't get new contract, candidate says

October 22, 2000|By TARA REILLY

Bartlett shouldn't get new contract, candidate says



Editor's note: This is the second in a series of stories about Washington County Board of Education candidates

Washington County School Board candidate Edward Forrest isn't shy about voicing his displeasure with Schools Superintendent Herman G. Bartlett.

He's already made it clear that if elected, he would not vote to renew Bartlett's contract when it expires in about two years.

Forrest, a 37-year-old pharmacist from Hagerstown, thinks that while Bartlett has improved test scores, the way he communicates with staff and the community leaves much to be desired.

"I think his ability to manage human resources is poor, at best," Forrest said. "There is a lack of communication to not only his employees but to the community. Whether it's intentional or just missteps, something needs to be done to correct that. On that level I would say he's very poor. I would not be pleased with his performance overall based on that."

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Reached at home Sunday, Bartlett said he had no comment about Forrest's statements.

"I just don't have a comment," Bartlett said.

Forrest is one of eight candidates vying for four open seats. The election is Nov. 7.

Communication, along with attracting and retaining teachers and student achievement, are Forrest's main concerns.

He said intervention programs should be in place to help students pass the high school assessment exams, which will be implemented in 2001. Students will have to pass the course-ending assessments in order to graduate.

Forrest also fears the school system is moving away from teaching basic education and focusing more on preparing students for state-mandated assessments, such as the MSPAP.

"I understand that we want to meet the state's goal and that we want to strive toward that, but I just want to be reassured that we emphasize the importance of the basics of reading, math and writing and communication skills," Forrest said.

Forrest favors full-day kindergarten but thinks it should be re-evaluated before it's put into place throughout the county. He suggested first devising models of full-day kindergarten curriculum and analyzing how other counties have implemented the program.

"As the general population enters all-day kindergarten, I'd like to see it flushed out a little bit more and I'd like to see some models of the curriculum rather than just taking what they're doing now and expanding it just to an all-day program. I don't think we should go blindly into it without a solid plan."

While he thinks salaries of Washington County teachers should be competitive, Forrest is also concerned that teacher concerns are being pushed aside.

"I think they feel that their concerns are unheard," Forrest said. "They need to have a better dialogue with the central office and the elected board and the teachers groups. There are a lot of issues that would keep the teachers happy and keep them in Washington County."

"Obviously salary is a concern, but there are non-salary issues that are affecting retention and non-salary issues that are causing teachers to leave. So I think we need to work hard with the communication with them and in understanding their concerns and involving them in board committees on policies that directly affect their work."

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