A School Board race? Maybe, if enough file by Dec. 3

October 10, 2007|By BOB MAGINNIS

Odds and ends from a columnist's notebook:

The deadline for filing candidacy for Maryland's Feb. 12 primary is Monday, Dec. 3.

When the outdoor temperature is still topping 80, it's tough to think about December, but remember that there than 14 weeks until Christmas.

One of the most significant races - if enough candidates file - is for the four open seats on the seven-member Washington County Board of Education.

According to the Washington County Board of Elections, the four incumbent members up for election include: Roxanne Ober, Bernadette Wagner, Wayne Ridenour and Donna Brightman, who was appointed to fill out the term of W. Edward Forrest.


If no other candidates file in this nonpartisan race - and assuming the incumbents do file - there will not be a contest.

Without commenting on the qualifications or accomplishments of the incumbents, I've always disliked uncontested races. Contested races keep office-holders humble and allow the public to examine their records during the previous term.

In the past, I have seen some incumbents (not these four) assume that just because no one filed against them, everyone must agree they're doing a wonderful job.

In truth, running a campaign is tough, especially for a post that doesn't pay $10,000 a year. Add to that the knowledge that you're on the line every time that a parent doesn't believe that their child is being treated fairly and it just might not be the most sought-after elected post in Washington County.

On the plus side, incumbent School Board members get to formulate policy and speak up against those gosh-awful education fads such as open schools and "whole-language" reading instruction.

Note: Dortohty Kaetzel, Washington County's Election director, said that if you would like to file to be a delegate for the presidential election, the deadline is also Monday, Dec. 3.

One of the issues the next School Board is certain to face is the ongoing development of the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts, the old Henry's Theater on South Potomac Street in downtown Hagerstown.

On Oct. 2, Del. Chris Shank, R-Washington, told the School Board that Montgomery County lawmakers had traded their votes for cash that otherwise might have gone to the arts school.

And, in my Sept. 26 column, I noted that there was no agreement with the University System of Maryland to use space there for art school students' academic classes.

Nor is there any arrangement on food service, or for transportation from the students' so-called "home schools."

Dale Bannon, the school system's director of system development, said that transportation might be handled as it is for the county's Technical High School, which buses students there from their home schools.

That's certainly a proven solution, but one of the reasons the arts school was touted as a good addition to the school system is that it would free up space in other schools. Unless their home schools will just be the equivalent of a bus stop, then seats there will have to be reserved for art school students.

Here's another thorny issue: If the art school accepts students from outside the county, based on their ability, what happens if little Johnny or Suzy from Washington County doesn't get in and someone from Greencastle, Pa., does?

As many have told me, Washington County is on the leading edge of the movement to have arts schools in the state's counties. It's going to take a lot of planning to make sure this thing turns out right.

A reader asked if entries for "Hagerstown's Best Sandwich" could be submitted by e-mail. Of course, and I should have said that when I announced it.

E-mails are fine, provided you include a name, address and daytime phone number. But get them in by Monday, Oct. 15, to to be eligible for the $25 prize. The sandwich must be a regular menu item in a place inside the city limits. It's the description that will win the prize, so write something that will make my mouth water.

On Oct. 6, The Herald-Mail printed a letter from Diane Eves, a member of the Washington County Teen Pregnancy Prevention Coalition, about "Let's Talk Month," designed to get parents talking to teens about sex.

She also asked that we recommend that readers read an excerpt from "Unhooked: How Young Women Pursue Sex, Delay Love and Lose at Both," by Laura Sessions Stepp.

We omitted that request. To read an excerpt, go to and seach for "unhooked." But be warned: Some of the verbiage is graphic.

Bob Maginnis is editorial page editor of The Herald-Mail newspapers.

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