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Janus running for School Board seat in Washington County

July 24, 2006|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN - Tom Janus is making his second bid for a seat on the Washington County Board of Education, and this time he is focusing on prioritization, cost effectiveness and efficiency.

Janus, who retired in 1999 from Citigroup after working there for 27 years, said he believes the current board needs new leadership.

Ten people are running for three seats on the Board of Education. The primary election is Sept. 12. The general election is Nov. 7.

Janus, 64, of Hagerstown, said that when he ran in the 2004 election he visited many communities, like Boonsboro and Smithsburg, that were in favor of smaller schools, not what Janus has called the "mega-complexes" being built now. Elementary schools like Westfields Elementary School, which will hold up to 745 students, are not cost effective and are not in the best interest of students, Janus said.

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The school, which will be build in the Westfields development on Sharpsburg Pike, is expected to cost about $21 million.

There is a better way, Janus said.

He said schools like Funkstown School for Early Childhood Education that have about 270 students in prekindergarten through second grade are more effective.

"To come from a nurtured one- or two-child home and be thrown into an anonymous, overwhelming playground with 750 other kids is not what parents want," he said. "I would like to see 'neighborhood-sized' elementary school buildings of about 200 students."

Janus said Montessori classrooms should be more prevalent in the county, and he supports the new Montessori prekindergarten program at Cascade Elementary School. His children, he said, benefited from several years of a Montessori education.

Janus said if elected to the board he will focus on spending money where it will do the most good.

"My approach will be to make public and visible choices from a menu of prioritized, efficient and cost-effective student learning programs," he said. "This is the rational way of saying we cannot do it all, versus the political way of not admitting it cannot all be done."

Janus said student achievement is most important, and money should be used to affect the most students.

"I want to get the most bang for the buck," he said.

Janus was a Hagerstown Community College instructor in business and quality management. He covered high school wrestling for The Herald-Mail and is a part-time special projects consultant for a California-based startup company.

Janus has been married to his wife, Marilyn, for 41 years, and their daughter, son and foster son all graduated from Williamsport High School in the 1990s, he said.

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