Letters to the editor 1/26

January 27, 2003

Board opening lines of communication

I have frequently observed that effective leaders, whether they are committee chairs, church leaders, PTA volunteers, or board presidents, share their responsibilities with their colleagues. As individual members take on responsibilities and work collaboratively to solve issues, they become more focused and therefore more unified. Booker T. Washington once said, "Few things help an individual more than to place responsibility upon him, and to let him know you trust him." I have let all of my fellow board members know that I trust them and believe in them. Therefore, I have requested that my colleagues assist me in a variety of capacities.

I have asked Jackie Fischer, one of our newly elected board members to take on the responsibility of being the board liaison to The Herald-Mail. In that capacity she will assist the board with one of its top priorities - improving communication. Last year, Bob Maginnis, editorial editor, offered to meet with the board on a regular basis and also publish articles written by board members. I believe Fischer, who is organized and detail oriented, is the perfect person to help the board in this manner. She will be responsible for scheduling quarterly meetings with The Herald-Mail staff and coordinating monthly columns.


Public education is most successful when the Board of Education works closely with all stakeholders. The Board of Education has worked collaboratively with local business leaders and other elected officials. I want to strengthen these partnerships for the good of our county's students. For this reason, I have asked Ed Forrest, Roxanne Ober and Paul Bailey to serve as liaisons to the Washington County Chamber of Commerce, the Washington County Board of Commissioners and the Hagerstown Mayor and City Council, respectively.

As liaison, Forrest will be the Board of Education's spokesperson to the chamber and will help present the annual state of education address. He will help communicate the board's vision, as detailed in our new master plan, and educate our business leaders on how they can best partner with Washington County schools to help them reach "world-class" status. Some of the highest performing school systems in the state promote economic development by promoting their schools. They understand that one of the strongest economic development tools that a community possesses is an excellent school system. As the Board of Education strengthens its relationship with the chamber of commerce, together we can strengthen our schools in order to foster desired economic growth, strong communities and enhanced quality of life.

Ober, who also serves as the chair of the finance committee, has agreed to serve as the liaison to the County Commissioners. In that capacity, she will assist with agenda planning for joint meetings with the County Commissioners as well as serve as a spokesperson for the Board of Education during the budget process. Since much of our dealings with the County Commissioners revolve around budget concerns, I believe Ober, who has a strong background in fiscal matters and a solid understanding of our budgetary process, is well prepared to handle this responsibility.

Paul Bailey, who also serves as vice president, will be the board liaison to the mayor and City Council. He will facilitate positive communications between the two bodies and promote collaboration on projects that jointly affect the city and Washington County public schools.

The board is also striving to improve its meeting format and efficiency. To that end, the board will examine and discuss various models for both work session and business meetings. Additionally, I have asked board member Russell Williams to assist the board by serving as time keeper and informing the board when the time limit for a designated topic has been reached. With his assistance, the board intends to conduct its meetings in the most efficient manner possible.

As board members, we collectively address issues facing our county. In the process we are becoming more unified in understanding our vital responsibilities and roles with respect to students, families and communities in Washington County. Our cohesiveness and unity of purpose is clearly evident in our master plan. In this document, the board has set the vision and has charged Elizabeth Morgan, superintendent, and her very capable administration and staff with implementing it. It is our hope that in collaboration with the business community, elected officials, stakeholders, and citizens, we can make Washington County a fantastic place to live, learn and work.

Bernadette M. Wagner is president of the Washington County Board of Education.

Mighty poor stimulation

To the editor:

The so called economic stimulus package introduced by George Bush is extraordinarily tilted toward the wealthiest Americans. And it will be very expensive for the rest of us.

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