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Ober says county must attract, keep teachers

October 26, 2000

Ober says county must attract, keep teachers



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

By TARA REILLY / Staff Writer


Roxanne Ober is keeping two main goals in mind during her run for Washington County School Board.

One is to improve the relationship between the School Board and the Washington County Commissioners. The other is to attract and keep teachers in Washington County.

She thinks teachers are looking for jobs in areas that provide higher pay, opportunities for advancement and less administrative paperwork.

"Our principals say experienced teachers are leaving for neighboring counties and states that pay better " Ober said. "Many other experienced teachers are taking early retirement."

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Ober, 40, is one of eight candidates vying for four School Board open seats in the Nov. 7 election. She and School Board candidate Bernadette Wagner are campaigning as a team, but voters will have the opportunity to vote for both or one or the other. If both are elected they will take up two seats on the board.

A first step to making teachers feel supported, Ober says, is to set up quarterly meetings between the School Board and the Washington County Teachers Association.

"I think we're sending the wrong message to our teachers," she said. "We want to keep senior teachers and be able to have them be mentors for our new teachers coming into the school system."

Ober said the long-term benefits package for teachers could be improved and she would look into combining health insurance of county, School Board, Hagerstown Community College and city employees to help cut costs.

She said teachers are paying 15 percent of their earnings for health insurance, while county employees pay about 7 percent.

She said she thinks the School Board should make itself more accessible to the public by encouraging open dialogue during business meetings. Now, when a resident approaches the board with concerns, very few receive responses, she said.

As a mother of three children in the school system, Ober also said many of the current school issues affect her personally, including talk of implementing full-day kindergarten throughout the system. She has a child in kindergarten now.

She doesn't favor a full-day program, which includes a rest time for the kindergartners during the day, she said.

"I would not care to have my child spend a 45 minute rest period on a mat in kindergarten," Ober said. "I'm a stay-at-home mom, and I can spend more time with him on reading and writing and doing those activities."

Ober thinks a full-day program could have advantages, but it needs to be closely studied before it's put in place countywide.

With her educational background in public service and business and 10 years working in budget analysis and public policy for nonprofit organizations, Ober said her experience puts her at the top of the list of candidates.

"I'm passionate about a quality education. I have the knowledge and ability to seek alternative funding for our school system," Ober said. "I maybe the only candidate that has a background in budget analysis and the ability to read audits. I feel my strength lies in the ability to analyze the budget. I think we need to continue to look and make sure that we're spending effectively the dollars that the county's giving us."

School board members receive $4,800 annually. The president gets $100 more.

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