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BOE hopeful Staley writes

November 05, 2006|by William Staley

It has been stated by Bob Maginnis on more than one occasion that this was the first elected School Board that did not micromanage what the superintendent did. Truer words were never spoken. However, this is only a half-statement. The other half is that this is the first School Board elected by taxpayers of Washington County who worked for the superintendent of schools instead the other way around.

When I decided to run, I was asked if I realized that if if I were elected, I would not be able to go anywhere without negative comments from the community and the media.

I said I realized this, but if some decisions made by the elected board pertained to the taxpayers of Washington County, then perhaps there would be a little less complaining than there is now.

The school system is definitely heading in the wrong direction. It does no good to complain about something unless you are willing to do something about it and that is why I am running.

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I have listened to many citizens' concerns and feel they should be heard.

To start, with the blessing of the School Board and superintendent, the majority of the trade programs were eliminated.

The reason? They said they could not get sufficient participation. However, the programs with which these trade courses were replaced with, for example, digital communications and printing, which now have only eight and two students respectively, in each course.

How do we justify new courses with only minimal interest? The true reason for the lack of interest in trades programs is a direct result of decisions to eliminate all industrial-arts classes in schools (for instance, shop classes.) These are the first step in building students' interest in those areas.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that if you take all the eggs out of the nest and smash them on the ground, not many chicks will hatch. This concept applies to vocational education programs and programs at their lower levels. Beginner programs have to exist to entice a student to pursue a subject. As a county, we have chosen to sell off and give away the majority of the equipment and shut down almost all of the skilled trade/industrial arts programs, and now our students have no exposure to the self-satisfaction of completing a task with their hands and minds and the sense of pride and fulfillment that comes from this.

The programs eliminated include: Horticulture/landscaping/floral arranging, plumbing, sheetmetal layout, masonry, cabinetry, electronics, laboratory technician, machine trades, welding, and heating and air conditioning/HVAC.

Most of these trades are in high demand in our area at this time. The Department of Labor has said that 75 percent of all new jobs will be skilled-trades related, yet we have eliminated these in our county. The incumbents have attempted to make excuses for these eliminations, but cannot dispute the fact that the trades skills are needed on an everyday basis. Any statistics and statements that I have made are current and come from reliable sources, such as the Department of Labor, The Wall Street Journal and The Herald-Mail.

I do fully support encouraging students to go to college. But not all students go to college and they need to be able to graduate and will skills. By cutting many of the skilled trades, other than giving them "some welding, plumbing, and electrical," we are not providing the skills needed to be employable by area businesses desperately seeking employees, despite what our incumbents say. I have worked with many of these businesses and have talked with employers myself regarding the struggle they are facing.

My opponents have used the skilled-trade issue to single me out from the other candidates, as if this were the only issue that I am concerned with

Some of the other issues that I feel need serious attention are spending of educational tax funds for administrative bonuses when the hardworking individuals, such as teachers, teaching assistants, secretaries, bus drivers, maintenance workers, food service workers, etc., who work on a daily basis directly with our students, receive no bonuses or recognition for their work.

They get more work and no more hours to do it in for the same pay, causing them to work at home after hours for free just to meet the mandates set forth by the administrators. Another issue of concern would be to ensure that we have an elected board that will research all angles of construction and renovation projects, and have the experience and knowledge to know right from wrong and good from bad construction practices.

If elected to your Board of Education, I will not only serve the school system but will serve the entire community. I will strive to bring to the table all opinions, whether it be a concerned citizen, teacher, administrator, businessman or student.

We all have voices and we all should be heard. I would gladly accept the honor of serving as your voice at our Board of Education meetings, but I should warn you that those unanimous 7-0 votes will probably come to an end.

William Staley is a candidate for Washington County School Board

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