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School Board opposes voting by district

February 10, 2006|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

Electing Washington County Board of Education members by districts would negatively affect student achievement and possibly encourage "infighting" on the board, current School Board members said in a letter Thursday.

The School Board addressed the letter to Del. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington, who on Tuesday said he favored creating a board elected by districts. The delegation likely will form a task force to study a possible change.

The board now is elected at large.

Shank's constituents from Boonsboro requested changes to the makeup of the board, saying they didn't feel they were being adequately represented.

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The School Board said in the letter it strongly opposes any effort to create a board elected by districts. The letter is signed by all seven board members.

According to the letter, the School Board is "concerned that a regionalization of the Board could encourage a partisan approach that does not presently exist and could promote 'infighting' over resources. There would be the constant potential for those students who need the most resources to be robbed of same, due to political, partisan squabbling, and such infighting could cripple the Board's actions to the detriment of students."

The School Board questioned whether board members elected by districts would be willing to support the educational needs of other areas.

"Would a regionalized Board, by its very nature, be willing to provide resources where they are most needed due to overcrowding or for other reasons, if this means an individual Board member's region might not receive an equal amount?"

School Board President W. Edward Forrest said Thursday by phone that the board was elected at large to serve the entire county.

"You could be ... influenced if you knew that your entire constituency was a small region rather than the whole county," Forrest said.

The School Board stated in the letter it believes that the majority of its members were re-elected because they have shown they are capable of serving all districts and voters.

"The idea of a regionalized, elected Board of Education is a poor one with bad timing," the letter states. "Given the volatile growth in the County, coupled with the main population centers residing and growing in and around Hagerstown, plus the potential to disrupt, not improve, the workings of the elected Board, we are strongly opposed to any action on the part of the Delegation to make this come about. We believe this will affect the achievement and performance of the school system and will negatively impact students and their families."

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