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BOE, delegates should talk after the 2007 session ends

February 15, 2007

When one person tells you your performance isn't up to snuff, well, maybe that's just his opinion. But when the chorus of nay-sayers begins growing, maybe it's time to reassess.

We're speaking of the call by some members of the Washington County Board of Education to hire a lobbyist to do what they feel the county's General Assembly delegation isn't doing. This comes after the Hagerstown and Washington County governments decided that they needed their own lobbyist.

We don't believe working out the kinks in this relationship should be done in the middle of the session. Delegation members need to use all their spare time to try to get more school construction cash.

Whether or not the delegation has done a good job can only be determined by comparing what Washington County gets from the state to the amounts granted to counties of similar size and population.

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Now that the School Board has accused the delegation of poor performance, the board has an obligation to back that assertion up with facts and figures.

We hope that happens sooner rather than later and that the two bodies can begin to work together.

In that regard, the delegation has not done well recently. School Board members say that Del. Christoper Shank's bill to elect the School Board by districts instead of at-large was not discussed with them prior to the session.

And the language of the bill wasn't even available to the School Board until last week!

That's not the way business should be done. Prior to the session, these two bodies should get together, discuss their priorities and decide how to best work together.

School Board President Roxanne Ober said that for the last three or four years, her group has sent a letter to the delegation outlying legislative priorities and has received no feedback.

That's not good. Without communication, little can be accomplished.

At this point, the only communicating the delegation has managed to do is suggest, without prior consultation, that the School Board is ineffective because it isn't elected by districts.

In a previous editorial, we advised the School Board not to oppose Shank's bill because a fight would distract the delegation from an effort to get more school-construction cash.

This is an argument that should take place after the session ends in April. Schedule a meeting now and sit down later, for a frank discussion of what everyone expects.

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