Board of Ed. candidate hopes to improve communication

July 11, 2010|By JULIE E. GREENE

SMITHSBURG -- Wanting to improve communication between parents and the Washington County Board of Education, Dottie Gruhler has filed to run for election to the school board.

Gruhler was one of several parents who filed an appeal with the Maryland State Department of Education concerning the county school board's redistricting plan during the last school year. Gruhler also filed an appeal last year to halt construction of a new Hagerstown-area primary school, now called Ruth Ann Monroe Primary School.

She withdrew both appeals.

Her experiences with redistricting led her to file for one of the three school board seats that will be open in November's general election, Gruhler said. The 11 school board candidates for the Sept. 14 primary will be narrowed down to six for the general election.

"I don't think that the process works in the best interest of the whole system, especially with the parents," said Gruhler, the mother of three children in the school system. Gruhler, 44, lives north of Smithsburg with her family, which includes husband, Jean.


Gruhler withdrew her redistricting appeal to the state after an attorney advised her she probably wouldn't win, she said. Two of her children are being redistricted from Old Forge Elementary to Cascade Elementary, but Gruhler said her appeal was about the entire process.

Parents were not allowed to contribute to the conversation during Facilities and Enrollment Advisory Committee meetings, and no one responded to four e-mails she sent to the school board about the primary school or redistricting, Gruhler said.

Gruhler said she'd like to have the school board send home with students a newsletter containing news and information about upcoming events. The newsletter could be included with a school's monthly newsletter.

Many parents do not listen to the school news on the radio, get cable TV or have Internet access to keep up with school board topics, Gruhler said.

"A lot of parents rely on that book-bag information," she said.

Gruhler was PTA president for Old Forge for the last four years and participated in the Be a Mentor program at Old Forge for the last two years, she said.

Before becoming a stay-at-home mom, Gruhler said she worked for about 11 years in restaurants and retail businesses, including jobs in management. She was manager of a Sizzler on Long Island, and front-end manager of Home Depot stores in Long Island and Catonsville, Md.

School board members elected in November will serve four-year terms and earn $6,100 a year. If one of the newly elected members becomes board president, the annual salary will be $6,200.

Name: Dottie Gruhler

Date of birth: 44

Street address: 23315 Angela Court, north of Smithsburg

Education: Graduated from Love Christian Academy, a private high school on Long Island, N.Y.

Occupation: Stay-at-home mother of three

Party affiliation: Republican, but the race is nonpartisan

Political experience: None

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