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He's the new guy

November 08, 2004|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - Wayne Ridenour taught in Washington County Public Schools for 30 years, but he and other Washington County Board of Education members say he definitely faces a learning curve as he joins the board next month.

"Well, it is huge. Of course, it is huge. I would be a liar if I did not say so," Ridenour, 53, of Williamsport, said Sunday.

Unofficial election results showed that Ridenour received the most votes among the field of eight candidates who were vying for four seats. The other three seats will be filled by incumbents.

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Board Vice President Roxanne Ober said Sunday that even if Ridenour knows a great deal about the curriculum side of the school system from his teaching experience, he still will need to learn about the business side.

After Ober was elected and put on the board in 2000, it was about six months before she was comfortable enough with her level of knowledge of the school system, she said.

Board President Edward Forrest agreed that most new board members, including himself when he was elected in 2000, need at least six months to be brought up to speed on policies and curriculum and other issues.

"It is a steep learning curve," Forrest said. The important lesson to remember is to ask questions when unsure about something, he said.

Ridenour said he has been attending Board of Education meetings since retiring in August 2003 after 30 years of teaching American history at Boonsboro High School. He was a basketball and baseball coach at the school during his first 20 years there.

The experience of attending board meetings should prove helpful, he said.

Ridenour is scheduled to be sworn into office Dec. 7, prior to that day's board meeting.

During Ridenour's first meeting, the board is scheduled to go into executive session to decide who will serve as its president and vice president for the next year, Forrest said.

Ridenour said Ober and Forrest have been helpful in providing information and suggestions so he can make the transition to the board.

An orientation session at the school system's central office, when Ridenour can meet members of the various departments and get copies of important documents, is being arranged for the middle of the month, Ober said.

Ober and Forrest also have encouraged him to attend a Maryland Association of Boards of Education program in early December aimed at helping new board members get ready to serve, Ridenour said.

Board member Jacqueline Fischer said Thursday she can relate to Ridenour's situation. Like him, she was a former teacher when she was elected to the Board of Education in 2002. As was the case with her, he will know some information about the school system's curriculum from his work in the classroom, but he still will have a lot to learn, she said.

As Ridenour joins the board, Princeton Young will be leaving it. Young did not make it past the primary election in the Board of Education race.

Gov. Robert Ehrlich appointed Young to the school board in May 2003 to fill the seat vacated by Dori Nipps, who was elected a Washington County Commissioner in November 2002.

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