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Incumbent blames self for School Board loss

November 09, 2006|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN - The day after losing a close election to keep her seat on the Washington County Board of Education, Jacqueline B. Fischer said she blamed only herself.

"I didn't gather a campaign committee around me," she said. "I worked the polls myself. I probably didn't have enough signs out. I felt that I did well at the forums, but I guess it just wasn't enough visibility."Newcomers Ruth Anne Callaham and William H. Staley were voted into office, along with incumbent Paul W. Bailey. New board members were expected to be sworn in at a regular business meeting Dec. 5.

"I hope (the new board members) continue the momentum the school system has going now," Fischer said.

Much of that momentum came during her four-year term on the board, she said.

Washington County Public Schools has done well in testing and keeping up with state and federal mandates. She said students have more choices for career opportunities and academic courses. Teacher salaries have been raised.

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Fischer said she blamed her loss in part on the attitude of the county toward education.

"There's a certain mentality that doesn't really support education really as well as I feel it should be supported," she said.

She cited the percentage of county residents with bachelor's degrees - about 14.5 percent - as evidence of residents' attitudes toward education.

Fischer also said she expected the dynamic of the new board to change from the one on which she served, but she declined to say in what ways it would be different.

Callaham, who was the top vote-getter in the general election, said she was looking forward to working with all board members and that her peers and the public will immediately notice her enthusiasm for the job.

"I think the board will find a new energy with me sitting in this chair," she said.

Callaham said she also would like to see more transparency in board decision-making.

"I consistently got the comment that the board is a rubber stamp," she said.

Callaham said she believed more board discussion should happen at public meetings instead of only in work sessions or closed sessions.

Like Callaham, Staley said he will not be a "rubber stamp" for ideas that come before the board.

He said he plans to speak with the public, school officials and organizations that endorsed his campaign before voting.

Those who supported him primarily put him in office to work on bringing the skilled trades courses back to county schools, Staley said.

"That's probably why I got elected," he said, referring to the support in the county for that issue.

Throughout his campaign, Staley was critical of the school system and of Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan. On Wednesday, Staley said he was looking forward to working with her.

"I can't wait to sit across the table from (Morgan)," he said. "I've got a million questions."

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