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School funding is top priority for candidate

January 09, 2004|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

Elizabeth Lay says pushing for more funding to build and renovate schools and finding more money to support the classroom will be at the top of her list of goals if she's elected to the Washington County Board of Education.

Lay, 46, of Clear Spring, is executive director of the Washington County Arts Council.

She said she decided to run in this election because she was concerned that only three candidates turned out for three open school board seats in the last race.

"I teach my children to be a part of the process," she said.

Lay said she wants to take this opportunity to teach that lesson by example to her three children, who are in grades three, four and five at Clear Spring Elementary School.

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She is one of 16 people who filed to run for four seats coming open on the school board. A primary election will be held March 2, and eight candidates will advance to the general election, to be held Nov. 2.

Lay said she likes the federal No Child Left Behind Act's goal to have all students, regardless of socioeconomic status or ethnic background, be 100 percent proficient in academics. She said she is troubled, however, by the state's lack of commitment to Bridge to Excellence funding over the next few years.

"I feel very strongly that we need to address this budget," she said.

Lay said she has 17 years of experience in managing nonprofit organizations and 10 years of experience working to get arts funding from the state. She said if elected, she would be an advocate for funding not only for the classroom, but for the construction and renovation of county school buildings.

She said she'd also like to have reviewed a school board proposal that it be given authority to issue revenue bonds to renovate schools.

Lay said she's an advocate for magnet schools, including Washington County Technical High School and the proposed Hagerstown School for the Arts.

Lay said teachers seem to be under a lot of stress and she's not sure the current school board is doing enough to address teachers' workload.

"I don't at this point have all the answers to that (teacher stress). I don't want to change the goal of 100 percent (proficiency)," she said.

Lay said she plans over the next few months to visit schools so she can talk to employees about their concerns.

She said she has some familiarity with what is happening in the elementary schools, but would like to learn more about the four-period day in high schools.

A member of Leadership Hagerstown, Lay, who has lived in the county for the past four years, said she has taken an interest in the community and has taken on education as her mission.

Lay said she has a good working relationship with businesses in the community and hopes to build on that if elected to the school board.

"Education not only impacts our children's future, but our community's future," she said.

She likes to hike, kayak, create needle art and delve into history.

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