Wagner seeking to serve again on school board

January 10, 2004|by SCOTT BUTKI

Bernadette M. Wagner, who is seeking re-election to the Washington County Board of Education, did something unorthodox which may hurt her in the elections: She encouraged other people to run against her.

Working with fellow incumbent Roxanne Ober, Wagner distributed documents and made speeches to local groups in an effort to increase the number of people running for four Board of Education seats.

The field grew from three candidates to 16, prompting some to warn her she is "drumming up opposition," she said, laughing.


But Wagner, 46, of Hagerstown, said she feels differently, saying everyone benefits when there is a crowded field of candidates.

Wagner and Ober are running together as a slate in the March 2 primary election which will narrow the field to eight candidates. The general election is Nov. 2.

Wagner spent five years as a public school speech pathologist. She also has coached and has taught preschool.

She is married and has five children, two of whom graduated from North Hagerstown High School. She has a son who is a junior at the high school and twin girls in fifth grade at Paramount Elementary School.

Wagner said the current relationship between the Board of Education and the superintendent is the best it has been in years and she would like to see that continue.

Wagner said she hopes that she can be re-elected and can continue working on initiaitves that have occurred during her term in office, including:

  • A reduction in the number of students dropping out of school.

  • An increase in the number of students taking Advanced Placement tests.

  • An increase in the number of schools offering foreign languages, from one middle school when she took office to all of the middle schools now.

During her first four-year term, she pushed for an increase of a beginning teacher's salary. If re-elected, she would work to increase wages for more experienced teachers to make it less likely they will leave to work elsewhere, she said.

She said people should vote for her because she has "mastered the learning curve of the board," understands the mandates on the district and has good relations with staff.

The Washington County Commissioners have done a good job in meeting the Board of Education's requests for the operating budget but are not giving enough money for the capital program, she said.

Despite that difference, the Board of Education, during her time on the board, has enjoyed the best relationship it has had with the County Commissioners in many years, she said.

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