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School board president seeks second term

January 03, 2004|by SCOTT BUTKI

W. Edward Forrest, president of the Washington County Board of Education, said he is seeking a second term so he can continue working on complicated issues such as responding to government mandates.

"I do not think it would be fair to me or the (school) system to walk away" from working on those issues, the 40-year-old pharmacist said.

During his four-year term, he has become familiar with state and federal mandates about educational curriculum.

He has been pleased with the board's progress on revising the Master Plan, a district five-year strategic plan. The plan has been submitted to the state.

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"I am very pleased with how the Master Plan has developed and I want to see it through," he said.

Forrest is one of 16 people who filed for four open slots on the School Board. A primary election will be held March 2, at which time the field of candidates will be narrowed to eight. The general election will be Nov. 2.

Forrest said he is a proud product of the county public schools, and his children - who are in seventh, fifth and third grades - attend county public schools.

"It is a great system. It has served me well," he said.

One reason he and his wife, Kathleen, moved from Baltimore to Hagerstown was because of the local school system, he said.

His first term was quite an "eye-opener," as the board accepted the resignation of former superintendent Herman G. Bartlett Jr., then searched for and hired his replacement, Elizabeth Morgan.

Forrest said he thinks the relationship between the Board of Education, the Washington County Commissioners - which funds the schools - and the local delegation to the Maryland General Assembly needs to be improved.

"We have an amicable relationship. We need to make it more of a partnership," he said. "We need to work close to them to help them understand the mandates that are before us."

He said these mandates include the federal No Child Left Behind Act, which is designed to close the achievement gap between schools and make sure all students are academically proficient.

One way the relationship could be improved, he said, would be for the county and state lawmakers to come to the schools to see how some of the mandates are being put into practice in classes and the resulting "price tags."

While it is easy to debate the cost of education in a "sterile conference room" it would be more meaningful if the discussion included seeing and talking to the teachers and students' parents, he said.

That change might also help increase education funding, he said.

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