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Janus makes third bid for school board

January 11, 2008|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

In his third run for a seat on the Washington County Board of Education, Tom Janus says he will focus on spending taxpayer dollars wisely.

He ran for a seat on the seven-member board in 2004 and in 2006, but was ousted in the primary election both times. The 2008 election is a nine-way race for four open seats on the board, and the primary election will be Feb. 12.

Janus, 65, of Hagerstown, retired in 1999 after working 27 years for Citigroup ? the majority of that time spent in a management role. His career there allowed him opportunities to think "outside of the box," Janus said. That is a skill he hopes to bring to a four-year term on the board if he is elected.

Janus said his business background will help him make cost-effective decisions. He said he believes the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts, which is expected to open in 2009 in downtown Hagerstown, is not a good use of taxpayer money.

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He said that priority was given to the performing arts school instead of other needs that would benefit students.

In 2001, Janus said he used some of his business knowledge to help Washington County Public Schools system staff conduct a management review.

"I'm trying to help wherever I can, using my expertise from 30 years in business," he said.

That includes participating in Board of Education business meetings, and offering comments during the citizen participation portion of the meetings, he said.

Janus says he supports "front-loaded" prekindergarten through third grade programming, and said he believes in federal No Child Left Behind legislation. He said that not all students will be performing at grade level on state testing by 2014, which is the year that the legislation requires all students to be proficient or advanced on state testing.

He said if elected, he would like to look at available resources for those students and also at the cause and effect of the resources being used.

"I also would like to change the superintendent's report," Janus said.

The report is given at the board's business meetings ? typically twice each month ? by Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan. Janus said he would like to hear more about the status of the school system in those reports, and have fewer awards given to teachers and students. He recommended limiting the awards to once per month.

Janus said that during his years advocating on behalf of students and parents in Washington County, he has found that it is difficult to get information from school system officials. Many of the meetings take place behind closed doors, and he says that he is in favor of more "openness."

"It benefits the community," he said.

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