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Voters Guide - Washington County Board of Education

October 30, 2006

Washington County Board of Education



Salary: $5,600 per year

Term: Four years

The following questions were asked to the candidates for the Washington County Board of Education.

1. With no mechanism to raise funds to build new schools, how does the school system deal with a growing student population?

2. How important is it for teachers to be "teaching to the test" when preparing students to take the SAT or MSA?

3. What is your opinion of restructuring schools to help improve student performance as was done at Bester and Winter Street elementary schools?

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4. Why should people vote for you?




Paul W. Bailey, 72

Hagerstown
(incumbent)

1. With current enrollment and anticipated population growth of 2 percent annually for several years, Washington County must be aggressive in providing school capacity. Developers must assume some responsibility for financing schools as large developments come on line. The board also must be aggressive in seeking state funds as a "super growth" county. Other school systems have received more than their fair share and the (state) must understand the urgency of distributing funds based on need.

2. It is my firm conviction that it is not necessary for teachers to be "teaching to the test." Maryland has adopted a state voluntary curriculum that will provide academic content necessary to do well on the SAT and MSA. Washington County has aligned their curriculum with the state voluntary curriculum. What is more important is that our students must be taught test-taking strategies and take advantage of the preparation classes that are available.

3. Washington County's first experience with restructuring at Eastern Elementary has been a tremendous success story. Student achievement has soared on the Maryland schools assessment. Three years ago, Eastern was on a watch list by the Maryland State Department of Education. That is no longer a consideration. Bester is in a second year and Winter Street in its first year. I feel confident the results will be similar.

4. I have spent 47 years working in public education in Washington County. Having served two terms on the elected Board of Education, I feel highly qualified. I recognize the importance of consensus building and working corroboratively with fellow board members to solve problems. After this many years in education, I continue to feel passionate about education. Being a board member is not a part-time job. I have the time and desire to serve.




Ruth Anne Callaham, 57

Hagerstown

1. Providing a safe environment conducive to learning for all children is our greatest challenge. Portable classrooms have become the norm, but are not a good permanent solution. However, building several new schools is not a timely solution. Affordable alternatives include:

- Alternative financing for construction verses the current "pay as you go" model; leveraging of currently available dollars through borrowing.

- Placing a K-8 school at Cascade Elementary to relieve overcrowding in other schools.

2. "Teaching the test" is 80 percent of the critical test preparation. Ensuring the student has command of the information and critical thinking processes required to score well is essential. However, excessive "teaching the test" limits our teachers and short changes students. Testing emphasizes a single level of success, one score on a specific test. Testing does not fully exercise the teachers' skill nor does it significantly enhance the students' ability to investigate and build knowledge.

3. Restructuring focuses on what we value most, our children. It invites teachers to compete for an increase in pay for an increase in effort. It invites teachers to be innovative, try new concepts and go the extra mile. The children enjoy and benefit from the enhanced programs offered in a restructured school. The challenge is for adults to stay focused on the goal - helping children - and become a positive part of the process.

4. I bring business, not-for-profit and government work experience coupled with education credentials - a master's degree and classroom teaching experience - and a passion for helping our children to the table. I have the energy to work hard every day to facilitate blending great ideas from our community with the best from other communities to give the students, teachers, administrators and support staff of WCPS all the tools they require to achieve.




Jacqueline B. Fischer, 60

Clear Spring
(incumbent)

1. At the request of the county commissioners, the board is developing a flexible mitigation policy requiring developers to bear the cost of the school seats they create. In the meantime, redistricting and portables must be utilized where possible. Alternative financing methods (various leaseback arrangements, public/private partnerships, performance-based contracting and design-build arrangements) must be investigated. Finally, our state delegation must work to streamline state school construction processes and to secure additional construction dollars.

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