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School board candidates discuss North High track controversy

October 11, 2008|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- Work on North Hagerstown High School's track has been ongoing since an agreement was reached last month between the Washington County Board of Education and a local paving company hired to build the track.

The two conflicted over the reason a suitable running surface had not been built at North High since the stadium opened, and the disagreement nearly ended in litigation.

Last month, Craig Paving Inc. agreed to construct a track at the high school that could be approved for NCAA events. The company previously had installed a high school track at the school, and said it was informed only after that track was built of the desire for a college-level running surface.

The school system denied that claim.

The news of the disagreement angered some community members who questioned the need for a costly college-level track at the school, and confused others who thought the process was too secretive.

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On page A3 of today's Herald-Mail, the eight candidates running for four open seats on the seven-member Washington County Board of Education tell voters if they would have handled the track situation differently. Last week, candidates discussed what they would do if they had unlimited funds to spend on education in Washington County.

Throughout the month, candidates will respond to questions in their own words in the Sunday Herald-Mail.

Some of the questions were posed by staff members, and some will come directly from voters. Candidates were asked to respond to the questions in writing, using 100 words or less.

In addition to their thoughts on the North High track, candidates also write about their favorite books.

Today is the second of four consecutive Sundays before the Nov. 4 general election that the candidates will be asked about issues and themselves.




Donna Brightman, 56

Southern Washington County

What is your favorite book? Why?

My favorite book is always the one I'm reading. On my bedside table right now is "The Soul of Capitalism," by William Greider. This is a non-fiction book which explains how we can make capitalism work for all of us in a more balanced, ethical and inclusive manner. This is a rather timely discussion, with the present economic meltdown at the forefront of all our thoughts. Paul Hawken states, "Greider unearths ... signs of a new ethos: workers, investors and pioneers who are re-imagining from the bottom up America's jobs, factories and companies."

What are your thoughts on the situation with the North Hagerstown High School track situation? Would you have handled it differently? If so, how?

The Washington County Public School System has been involved in three large public, private partnerships: North High Stadium, Barr Institute and Barbara Ingram School for the Arts. The lesson learned from each, is that the Board of Education needs to develop a public, private partnership policy which will provide balanced protection for all the stakeholders. The policy should include a transparent, open and consistent process culminating in the highest accountability standard possible. With the projected financial downturn ahead, we will need to encourage alternative funding partnerships, while providing full accountability to the taxpayers.

Jacqueline B. Fischer, 62

Clear Spring

What is your favorite book? Why?

My favorite book is "A Tale of Two Cities" by Charles Dickens. It contains just about every human emotion, every character type and every motivation imaginable. Set against the French Revolution, the story explores the themes of redemption and resurrection. All the horror, intrigue, greed, sacrifice, death and mayhem of France in this time of class struggle is offset by the unconditional love and selflessness of Sydney Carton as he gives his life so that the woman he loves can find happiness. Some other favorites are "Dr. Zhivago; Centennial;" "To Kill a Mockingbird;" and the series, "The Kent Chronicles."

What are your thoughts on the situation with the North Hagerstown High School track situation? Would you have handled it differently? If so, how?

I applaud the Stadium Committee which spearheaded the overall project that provided a much needed facility for North High students and gave South High its own facility as well. However, the Board should have insisted that the new facility be built on an equal basis with those of the other county high schools. A collegiate-level track should never have been considered. While public/private partnerships can advance some of the school system's needs, the Board should not lose sight of its sworn goal to promote what is best for ALL students by resisting the pressure often applied by these private groups.

W. Edward Forrest, 45

Hagerstown

What is your favorite book? Why?

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