Live chat with Roxanne Ober

August 29, 2007

Our live chat begins today at 1 p.m. and ends at 2 p.m. We will be speaking with Roxanne Ober, Washington County School Board President.

You can participate by sending your questions to us by clicking here.

Moderator: What is the biggest challenge the school board faces in this current school year?

Roxanne Ober: I believe one of our biggest challenges will be the high school assessments, I will call these high-stake tests that the graduating class of 2009 will need to pass to graduate. Yesterday the State of Maryland came out with the state's high school assesment results and also with information on passing these tests. Now students will have an opportunity to pass all four tests with a collective score, they can take the test 5 times per year to pass, and this will require additional teacher resources and time for the kids to pass and graduate.

Moderator: How has the No Child Left Behind Act affected the Washington County School System?


Roxanne Ober: We have had to put additional resources in our classrooms. The school system uses different intervention tools to assist our students in acheiving in different subject areas. We administer benchmarks, collect the data, study the data and make changes that are necessary on student's performance. The No Child Left Behind Act has forced every school system, including Washington County, to dissaggregate data to ensure that every child's needs are addressed in the classroom.

Moderator: Some members of the Maryland General Assembly have suggested that next years budget will be balanced by reducing aid to counties, if that happens - how will the Washington County School Board deal with that?

Roxanne Ober: The school board has not discussed this possible decrease in budgetary funds. Although I believe that we will have to look at classroom size, the number of course offerings, and the resources we currently have to educate our children. Our largest expense, at 86% of our budget, is salary and benefits for our employees. We will have to continue looking at ways in which we can save costs. One thing that will assist us in this is our participation in an energy consortium, which I believe will save us thousands of dollars over the coming years. In addition, we will have to be creative in cost-saving initiatives and evaluate all of our expenses, while still striving to provide excellent educational opportunities for our students. During this upcoming budget deliberations, the board will have to consider the state's possible reduction in revenue.

Moderator: Can you explain a little bit more about the power consortium, is it with the Chamber of Commerce, or some other group?

Roxanne Ober: The power consortium consists of other local governments and school systems that collectively bid for lower energy costs for these government entities. This is one way the school system has sought to partner with other systems to lower their energy costs.

Chanda: My son entered the 6th grade last Wednesday now attending Western

Heights Middle School. Earlier maybe a week or so, I noticed an

article in the Herald-Mail (front page) addressing the test scores in

the county/state. The article stated Western Heights has the lowest

scores in the county/state. Why? And what does the Board of Education

plan to do regarding this issue?

Roxanne Ober: Last school year the administration and the school board restructured Western Heights Middle School to address a number of challenges. This year the Western Heights Middle School administration has created a Dean of Students position to assist at-risk students at the school. The new administration is addressing student achievement through a variety of creative methods so that this middle school will improve in its performance.

Carl: Why was the Montessori program at the Cascade Elementary School

cancelled. We had our daughter enrolled and were not notified of the

cancellation until the night we were to meet with the Instructor.

Additionally will we be refunded the monies we paid already?

Roxanne Ober: Please contact me at I will try and assist you in answering your question.

Moderator: You ran for office in 2000 with Bernadette Wagner on a slate. Have you remained a good team during the years you have served?

Roxanne Ober: Yes. We are a good team and we use each other to discuss issues, bounce ideas back and forth, and research new options to improve student achievement in our school system.

Moderator: Can you give us an example of where your collaboration with Ms. Wagner has produced a workable idea for the school system?

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