Letters to the editor (published Oct. 19, 2008)

October 20, 2008

New bus rules developed with a great deal of care

To the editor:

According to Washington County Board of Education member Ruth Anne Callaham, the new transportation policy is "messed up" (Herald-Mail, Oct. 3). We disagree.

Last year, the BOE was resoundingly, and in our opinion accurately, criticized for not having a policy in place to prevent a 5-year-old kindergarten student from first getting on the wrong bus and then getting off at the wrong bus stop. School administrators, teachers, bus drivers and support personnel were put in positions that allowed such an incident to occur.

Desiring to be both diligent and responsible, the BOE Policy Committee worked with staff to create a policy that would minimize risks and maximize student safety.


The proposed policy was vetted through Washington County Public Schools administrators, school principals, teachers, bus drivers and parents.

It was presented twice to the public and the full board prior to being passed in May to allow parents time to make necessary arrangements for the upcoming school year.

Yes, the new transportation policy is more stringent than the previous but still allows for different, consistent pick-up and drop-off sites, if requested in writing by parents.

In fact, 819 parents did just that and all 819 requests were granted. These families found a way to work within the framework of the existing policy. Additionally, 48 requests were submitted and denied, 30 of which would have been denied under the previous policy.

If only the vocal minority is considered, one might conclude that this policy is terribly flawed. No policy is perfect, but considering WCPS is responsible for transporting 20,000-plus students, the 18 requests denied as a result of this new policy represent less than one-tenth of 1 percent. Is this a policy that's not working? We don't think so. It's working for 99.91 percent of the community.

This policy was staff-driven. It was developed only after hours of study and review. It allows for appeals. It has twice been voted on and has twice won the support of the majority.

In a democracy, the majority wins and according to the National School Boards Association, once a vote is taken, all board members should support the will of the board.

Bernadette Wagner
William H. Staley
Roxanne Ober
Washington County
Board of Education

If you agree with numbers, vote for these

To the editor:

All eight Washington County Board of Education candidates attended the Oct. 9 forum at Boonsboro Middle School. Each of the candidates answered the following question:

"On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 equivalent to the worst school system in the world and 10 equivalent to the best school system in the world, how would you rate Washington County Public Schools?"

Their answers were:

Marge Lowery -- 6;

Donna Brightman, Meredith Fouche and Justin Hartings -- 7;

Jacqueline Fischer, Ed Forrest and Wayne Ridenour -- 8

Russell Williams --9.

On a scale of 1 to 10, 5.5 is the midpoint or average. It is interesting that all eight candidates rated WCPS as better than average, despite the fact that they knew that the county's SAT scores have been consistently below the national average scores for at least the last seven years.

The voters' choice is clear. If you believe WCPS is almost world class, vote for Williams, Fischer, Forrest and Ridenour.

If you think WCPS is merely above average, vote for Lowery, Brightman, Fouche, and Hartings. If you think WCPS is mediocre at best, don't vote for any BOE candidates because all the candidates think WCPS is better than average.

Like the old saying goes: "You can't fix it if you don't know it's broke."

I expect to see no meaningful improvements in WCPS in the years ahead, no matter who is elected.

Daniel Moeller

To deal with current crisis, we need new way of thinking

To the editor:

Are these people ever going to "get it?"

You hear all these worried people talking about the coming of economic hard times or the collapse of our "throwaway consumer" society or these religious believers with the coming "end time" or the "Second Coming of Christ" or the "Rapture of the Church."

After a 20-year "confuse the science in the public's eye" campaign by the oil and electric power industries the politicians and the media are finally waking up to the reality of climate change as a largely manmade phenomenon.

However, this is still way behind the times. It's more than climate change. It's nothing less than the whole sale, rapid poisoning and destruction of the habitability of our life support environment, not for future generations, for most of them, their chances are already gone, but for millions of young people already here.

All this is unfolding so much faster than anyone ever thought it would.

During the memory of many people now old the world wide population has exploded uncontrolled from 3 billion to 6.5 billion.

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