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Seek a businessperson to fill Nipps' post on School Board

January 16, 2003

Should the Washington County School Board have seven members, as it does now, or five, as it did in the early '90s? Does a seven-member board make it easier to share the workload, or only lengthen the debate because there are two more points of view to be heard?

Interesting questions, to be sure, but no matter how they're answered, they won't have an immediate impact on the school system. Of much greater importance right now is who will fill the School Board seat vacated by Doris Nipps, who was elected to the board of county commissioners.

Why is filling that post so important? Because the school system is about to go through a wrenching change because of the federal "No Child Left Behind" law. That's true not only because more money will be needed for the extensive record-keeping the law requires, but also because the system will have to change the way it manages people.

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For that reason, we suggest that those who are reviewing nominees look for someone with a business background, but not only because of the personnel and budgetary skills that person would bring to the board.

Another person with a strong business background is also needed because the school system is unlikely to get all the money it needs from local and state government. Additional partnerships will have to be created with local companies. And who better than one of their own to convince businesspeople that that's a contribution worth making?

Someone who doesn't have to go through a political campaign will also be more able to advocate difficult changes that make financial sense, like the merger of certain school system and county government functions, for example.

The School Board already has three former educators who provide valuable input from their days inside the system. Now the School Board needs aznother person from outside who can bring some good business practices to a system that will need to use every dollar it gets as efficiently as possible.

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