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Washington County school board shares priorities with delegation

May 14, 2008|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

Washington County Board of Education members discussed how to give local students a competitive advantage in the classroom and on the athletic field Tuesday.

The school board met with the Washington County delegation to the Maryland General Assembly Tuesday and discussed priorities for the next legislative session in Annapolis.

Among those priorities were anticipated legislation on fall sports practice, academic requirements, physical education, contributions from businesses, collective bargaining and "green" schools.

Sen. George C. Edwards, R-Garrett/Allegany/Washington; Del. LeRoy E. Myers Jr., R-Washington/Allegany; Del. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington; and Del. Andrew A. Serafini, R-Washington attended. Other members of the delegation sent representatives or were absent.

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"We want local issues promoted and be able to respond quickly on those (bills) that affect us, certainly financially," Board Vice President Donna Brightman said.

The school board and the delegation meet twice each year.

Myers pushed for a change allowing more sports practice time at the start of the fall season during the recent legislative session. However, that idea failed to take off, and the school board said Tuesday they would like to pursue it again.

Washington County Public Schools students will be starting one day later this year than last.

Serafini said the argument against the change was that Washington County would be at an advantage over other counties. However, Myers said the school system already is at a disadvantage when playing games against teams in West Virginia, which starts practice earlier than Washington County.

Edwards said he was told that officials in Montgomery and Prince George's counties in Maryland do not want practices to begin earlier because "they'd have to pay for coaches."

"It's whatever Montgomery County and Prince George's County and a few other large counties want," he said. "But these three counties (in Western Maryland) are a little bit different than the rest of Maryland in relation to the fall sports schedule."

The school board discussed its legislative priorities, and how to best discuss its priorities with the delegation. Board Member Bernadette M. Wagner questioned whether the school board was spending its money wisely on two lobbyists. The board is represented by its own lobbyist, Ardath Cade, and also by a lobbyist working for other local groups.

Myers said the school board should have a member of the board monitoring the 3,000 bills discussed during the session, but said he also supported the board having its own lobbyist.

Board Member Ruth Anne Callaham said Tuesday's meeting was "the best dialogue I've ever had before with the delegation. It was honest and candid."

The board will meet again with the delegation after November's election, when there will be at least two new school board members.

Legislative priorities



The Washington County Board of Education's legislative priorities for 2008-09 are:

· Collective bargaining - Would expand matters that must be negotiated and would set up a new body to act on unresolved labor negotiations.

· Building Opportunities for All Students and Teachers (BOAST) - A business could make a contribution to a public or private school and receive an income tax credit for that contribution.

· Physical education - Balancing the need for more physical education time for students with academic requirements.

· Fall sports practice season start date - Would like more practice days before fall sports to put them on a level playing field with other Tri-State-area school systems.

· Green/LEED construction/prevailing wages - Requiring that new public school buildings be constructed as high performance buildings.

· Transportation funding formula for rural LEAs - Rural communities have buses that travel further to pick up the same number of students as more urban areas and should receive additional funding consideration.

· Foundations of technology course requirements - The possibility of having students test out of the newly mandated course.

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