Council PTA President Leslie LeBlanc said her organization holds the forum annually to give local candidates a chance to outline their platforms. This year, with no local elections to focus on, the council instead decided to spotlight growth and its impact on the county and its school system.
About 60 people attended the question-and-answer event featuring Del. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington, Washington County Commissioner James F. Kercheval and Hagerstown City Councilman Kristin B. Aleshire.
LeBlanc said the council recently created a subcommittee to look at redistricting in the county's schools, an option she said she does not considerable desirable but may ultimately be the most viable solution in a school system facing county-wide overpopulation issues.
"We're going to begin to look at those issues, and it's not popular, but it's a matter of priorities and what's best for kids," she said.
Kercheval said the county has sought to do what it can to accommodate growth, both in terms of development issues that come before the board and the funding of capital improvement projects for the school system.
He noted many of the county's ongoing development projects were approved by previous boards at a time when school projections estimated the student population would level out or begin to decline.
"People, sometimes, don't understand what kind of control we have," he said. "It's past the time when you can stop it. It's unfortunate, but it's one of those things that's beyond our control."
Shank said the state has tried to help the county with measures including the county's excise tax and APFO, but ultimately it will be up to the county and city to control the future pace and shape of development within their borders.