Washington County school board candidates attend orientation session

January 31, 2008|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

Five candidates running for a seat on the Washington County Board of Education attended an orientation session Wednesday night that focused on the role of a board member.

The session at South Hagerstown High School was attended by Meredith Fouche, Jacqueline B. Fischer, Margaret Lowery, Tom Janus and Russell F. Williams II.

Current board members Donna Brightman and Wayne D. Ridenour, former board member W. Edward Forrest and board candidate Justin M. Hartings did not attend.

There are nine candidates vying for four open seats on the board.

B. Marie Byers, who served on the county's Board of Education from 1970 to 2001, said it was her idea to organize the information session. Byers, the state's longest serving board member, said she would have liked an orientation before she first took office in 1970.


"This is a big job," she said. "And it's maybe not what (the candidates) think it is."

Kitty Blumsack, director of Board Development for the Maryland Association of Boards of Education (MABE), led the orientation and said that effective board members are flexible and also know that board business must at times be confidential. She said that board members want to obtain facts, but also know that the school system administration has the responsibility of operating the schools, not spending a "great deal of time gathering data or making reports to individual board members."

Washington County Board of Education President Roxanne R. Ober also was at the orientation. Three candidates running for the school board in Frederick County, Md., also attended.

"What happens in the boardroom has a direct impact on what happens in the classroom," Blumsack said.

Ethical and procedural considerations were discussed Wednesday, including a recent proposal among the current Washington County Board of Education to eliminate Robert's Rules of Order as its guiding parliamentary procedure.

Blumsack said that MABE has endorsed Robert's Rules of Order and that most organizations use that standard because it has a process that supports discussion.

If you go ...

What: Citizens for Protection of Washington County's public "town hall style" forum for Washington County Board of Education candidates. All nine candidates have agreed to participate.

When: Feb. 7, 7 p.m.

Where: The Volunteer Fire Co. of Halfway, 11114 Lincoln Ave.

Dates to remember

· Primary election - Feb. 12

· General election - Nov. 4

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