Forrest aims to reclaim post

January 11, 2008|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

Just nine months after resigning from the Washington County Board of Education, W. Edward Forrest says he hopes to reclaim his seat.

Forrest, 44, filed Friday to run in the 2008 election, a nine-way race for four open seats. A primary election will be held Feb. 12.

He lives in Hagerstown with his wife, Kathleen, and their three children.

Forrest resigned from the board in March after accepting a job promotion within his company that required regional travel.

"Then I realized that my niche was really being a pharmacist in the community," he said.

Forrest worked as a pharmacist at Martin's Food Market on Dual Highway before accepting the promotion. He now works in several Martin's pharmacies in the Tri-State area.

He said that change allowed him to return to his role on the Board of Education. Forrest was elected to the board in 2000 and re-elected in 2004.


"It was a really difficult decision to (leave the board) in the first place," he said. "I enjoy serving the community, and it is a valuable position to me. Those things were more important to me personally than that job opportunity."

After leaving the board, he served as a member of the excise tax task force.

Forrest says he would bring experience and a balanced point of view to another term on the board.

"I would look at the system as a whole, and make decisions not driven by politics," he said. "It's about how we can better serve the students in the county."

Forrest said the Board of Education has been bogged down with procedure and needs to be more transparent in its actions. He said most of the board's work is done in committee meetings that are seldom attended by citizens.

He says the collective board should establish the agendas for the committees, not the other way around. The work of the board should be open, and it should be clear to citizens why decisions are being made, Forrest said.

Discussions about redistricting of Washington County Public Schools took months before a decision was made late last month. The board should have received information from the committee that studied redistricting, asked questions of staff, had a debate and taken a vote, he said.

"The Board of Education has gotten to the point where everything is so drawn out and the community is left waiting," Forrest said.

He said that with the expected dip in state funding for public schools, the elected board will have to ensure that every dollar is spent wisely.

Forrest said each taxpayer dollar that is spent should help as many students as possible. He supports spending money on highly qualified teachers and on increased choices for students.

He also is in favor of making those options, like magnet programs and the International Baccalaureate program at North Hagerstown High School, more accessible to students.

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