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Five apply for board vacancy

May 04, 2007|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

WASHINGTON COUNTY - Five people have applied to fill a vacant seat on the Washington County Board of Education, including two former school board members.

A committee is expected to review the nominations over the next two weeks before recommending three finalists. Gov. Martin O'Malley will pick the replacement.

The deadline for applications was Tuesday. The nominees' names weren't made public until Thursday, though, when Rodney M. Shoop, the chairman of the committee reviewing nominations, picked them up at the school board office.

The seat has been vacant since April 16, when W. Edward Forrest left because of the demands of a new job.

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The five nominees are:

· Russell F. Williams, 64, of Hagerstown, a retired school teacher who served on the board from 2002 to 2006, when he lost in a primary election

· Jacqueline B. Fischer, 61, of Clear Spring, a retired school teacher who also served on the board from 2002 to 2006, when she lost in the general election

· Donna L. Brightman, 55, of Knoxville, who has served on several boards and committees and lost last year in the Washington County Commissioners general election

· Gary E. Nally, 49, of Williamsport, who unsuccessfully ran for a school board seat in 2004 and 2006

· Robin Schneider of Smithsburg. Shoop said he didn't know details about Schneider, who couldn't be reached Thursday.

Two weeks ago, The Herald-Mail independently learned and reported that Williams, Fischer and Brightman had applied.

Besides Shoop, who recently retired as Washington County's administrator, eight people are on the review committee:

· Stan Stouffer, of the Washington County Teachers Association, representing the Central Maryland Labor AFL-CIO Council

· Roxanne R. Ober, for the school board

· Merle Elliott, for the county's state delegates

· Mike Weller, for the county's state senators

· Richard W. Phoebus Sr., for the Washington County Commissioners

· Brien J. Poffenberger, for the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce

· Bonnie Blandford, for the county's council of PTAs

· Barbara Cecil, for the county's Citizens Advisory Committee.

Shoop said he will vote only if there's a tie.

The committee will have an organizational meeting Monday at 4 p.m. at the school board office.

Shoop said he thinks the committee's meetings should and will be public.

He has asked the committee to meet at least one other time next week and at least once the following week. More meetings will be held if needed.

Del. LeRoy E. Myers Jr., R-Washington/Allegany, has said he wants the process to move more quickly this time than it did after Doris J. Nipps resigned from the school board in 2002.

A similar committee considered nominees and forwarded three recommendations to then-Gov. Robert Ehrlich.

About four months passed from the time the committee was formed until Ehrlich picked W. Princeton Young to fill the seat. Young was sworn into office in June 2003.

The newest school board member would serve the rest of Forrest's second term, which expires next year.

Myers - who as delegation chairman helped set up the committee - and Del. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington, have said they don't think Stouffer should be on the vacancy committee because he is chairman of the teachers' union's contract negotiating team.

Bobby Fouche, a past president of the council, said Stouffer's role as a negotiator is unrelated.

"There's no reason for us to revisit that decision," he said.

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