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Washington Co. BOE to discuss plaques again

June 03, 2008|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- A potential swing vote could change the outcome of last month's decision on whose names will appear on plaques at three elementary schools.

The Washington County Board of Education could vote Tuesday on that issue.

Board Member Paul W. Bailey was absent for last month's votes. At that time, the board failed to make a decision on whether to include Board Vice President Donna Brightman's name on the plaques.

Bailey will be at today's meeting, and Board President Roxanne R. Ober said she hopes a decision will be made.

The plaques were first discussed after Brightman said in April that the board should examine its policy regarding school plaques.

Brightman joined the board after initial contracts for the schools were in place. She would be the only sitting board member whose name would not appear on the plaques at Rockland Woods, Maugansville and Pangborn elementary schools, if preliminary drafts are approved.

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The current policy states that officials "holding office at the time of the construction contract award will be represented on the plaque."

According to drafts, W. Edward Forrest's name would appear on the plaques. Brightman, who was appointed to the board in May 2007, replaced Forrest, who resigned earlier that year.

Bailey said Monday that he didn't want to reveal what his vote might be.

"My opinion is that the policy that was in place is the policy that should be followed," Bailey said.

Bailey said he hopes today's vote puts the issue to rest, and said he hasn't been "comfortable" with much of what has happened since the plaques were first discussed.

Board Member Bernadette M. Wagner said she has advocated for Brightman's name to be added to the plaques.

"I have no problem with additional names being on the plaque," Wagner said.

Board Member Ruth Anne Callaham said she will vote for plaques that follow the board's policy, therefore not including additional names, like Brightman's.

"We cannot pick and choose which policies we're going to follow," Callaham said.

She said the board has suspended policies before, but there must be a compelling reason to do so.

Brightman said her concern is that the policy is not inclusive enough - not that she is being left out.

"My initial request was for the policy committee and my colleagues to look at the policy and see if it needed to be expanded," she said.

Brightman said if this was not an election year, the plaque issue would not have "reached the level of negative dialogue that it has."

Both Brightman and Forrest are candidates for the board.

"I know nobody believes this, but this is not about me," she said. "This is about policy making and what works for the community."

If you go



What: A Washington County Board of Education public business meeting, during which a decision is expected on plaques

When: Tuesday, 1 p.m.

Where: Washington County Public Schools central office, 820 Commonwealth Ave., Hagerstown

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