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Etched in stone?

Washington Co. school board member wants new look at plaque policy

Washington Co. school board member wants new look at plaque policy

April 25, 2008|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

WASHINGTON COUNTY - Donna Brightman wants the Washington County Board of Education to discuss why her name will not be included on plaques being placed at the three county elementary schools opening in August.

Brightman - the board's vice president and a candidate for the board - has asked the school board to discuss its policy regarding school plaques during its May 6 public business meeting.

Brightman joined the board after initial contracts for the schools were in place.

"I made an assumption that whoever was serving at the time that the plaques were placed on the school would be who was placed on the plaques," Brightman said. "I didn't think about it before it was brought up."

The current policy states that school board members, the superintendent of schools and the Board of County Commissioners "holding office at the time of the construction contract award will be represented on the plaque." During a public committee meeting Tuesday, school staff told Brightman that she would be the only sitting board member whose name would not appear on the plaques of Rockland Woods, Maugansville and Pangborn elementary schools.

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Instead, W. Edward Forrest's name would appear on the plaques. Brightman, who was appointed to the board in May 2007 and whose first meeting was June 5, 2007, replaced Forrest, who resigned earlier that year.

Forrest also is running to reclaim his seat on the board in November's general election.

The first construction contract for Rockland Woods Elementary School was approved Feb. 20, 2007, by the Board of Education. The contract for Maugansville Elementary School was approved March 6, 2007, and the Pangborn contract was approved April 3, 2007.

However, Brightman says the policy is unclear and should be discussed by the board.

"I'm not going to be bitchy about this," she said Tuesday during a public committee meeting.

Brightman said in a follow-up interview that she was on the board when some of the contracts were approved and for the bulk of the construction process.

"I've been involved in tracking the budget on them," she said. "I feel that I've certainly had some input on (the new schools)."

Forrest, who served on the board for seven years, said Thursday that he is not concerned about whose name appears on the plaques. He did say that it would be unfortunate if the board chose to change its policy.

"The board has a long-standing policy, and it's unfortunate if they're going to spend time talking about that kind of stuff," Forrest said. "I'm not going to lose any sleep over it. I'm just glad that we're going to have new schools for the kids, and I had a role in seeing that happen."

Brightman is a member of the board's facilities, finance and policy committees, and a committee that tracks progress on the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts. Brightman, who was on the board at the time contracts were awarded for the performing arts high school, will be included on the plaque that hangs in that school.

"I do want to make this fair for everyone, but I want to make sure it's fair for me as well," Brightman said.

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