Washington Co. school board hopefuls weigh in

August 14, 2010|By JULIE E. GREENE
  • Paul W. Bailey

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- The 11 candidates for Washington County Board of Education were given a chance to share their opinions on several topics, including whether teacher pay should be tied to student performance and how they would improve communication between the school system and the community.

Three school board seats are up in the Nov. 2 general election. But before November arrives, the list of 11 candidates will be narrowed down to six in the Sept. 14 primary election.

The Herald-Mail posed eight questions to the school board candidates, giving them about two weeks to provide answers of 100 words or less to each question. When an answer exceeded 100 words, it was edited to meet the word requirement. The questionnaires were sent to the candidates, via e-mail when available, on July 22 and they had until the afternoon of Aug. 6 to respond.

The candidates' answers to the first four questions are in today's Herald-Mail, while the responses to the remaining four questions will run in Monday's edition.


The three seats available on the seven-member board are those of Paul W. Bailey, Ruth Anne Callaham and William Staley. Only Bailey is running to retain his seat.

The other 10 candidates in the nonpartisan election are Michael Joe Boyce, Shawn M. Bryce, Jacqueline Fischer, Dottie Gruhler, Karen J. Harshman, Wayne M. Kretzer Jr., Francis X. Murray III, Gary E. Nally, James W. Staley and Russell Williams.

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.

Question: Should teacher pay be tied to student performance? Why or why not?

Paul W. Bailey, 76


840 Kenly Ave., Hagerstown


At this time there are no clearly established criteria for basing teacher pay on student achievement performance. Until teachers and administrators can come together and set forth the standards under which teachers can be evaluated, I cannot support pay being based strictly on student performance. School based administrators would not be excluded if performance pay would be mandated. It is my thinking that there are too many variables found in a classroom of students to award or punish the teacher for individual achievement or lack thereof. Run to the Top legislation will likely have funding tied to student performance.

Michael Joe Boyce, 41

16938 Shinham Road, northwest of Hagerstown


I believe student performance should be a factor but not the only factor. I believe in order to truly evaluate a teacher you need to study a trend over a few years with different students. Supervisors' and parents' input are also important.

Shawn M. Bryce, 45

10228 Easterday Court, east of Hagerstown


Teachers should be held accountable for student performance and be subject to fair, holistic and comprehensive evaluations. Many factors should be part of the evaluation process as well as teacher and staff reflection. Clear consequences should be attached to evaluations. Targeted ongoing development should be required of teachers. We cannot advance and retain ineffective educators, no matter how few they may be. We also cannot cheapen the effort of teachers who are meeting and exceeding the expectations of their employment by not rewarding them. We need to spend our budget in the most effective way ... to succeed in the important job of educating our children.

Jacqueline Fischer, 64

13156 Independence Road, west of Hagerstown


There should be a component of teacher pay or a bonus incentive based on student performance; however, disparities in teacher assignments should be considered in determining whether or not a teacher has been successful in raising the performance of his/her assigned students. These include whether the students have learning problems, come from abusive or dysfunctional environments, have high absenteeism, face language barriers, etc. There is more to a child's schooling than standardized test results; thus, student performance should be just one part of teacher evaluations and the resulting compensation.

Dottie Gruhler, 44

23315 Angela Court, north of Smithsburg


No, teachers pay should be tied to teacher performance. Student performance should be an indicator as to whether or not different actions need to take place to help facilitate learning. Several of our schools show erratic test scores, and there could be a dozen underlying reasons one school is having more difficulty than the next. ... (In) an article in the Herald Mail ... the BOE and administrators were trying to find the cause of declining MSA scores. Several possible causes were ... suggested, none of which are within a teachers control. If we cannot pinpoint the reasons for declining scores, why would we tie teacher pay to them?

Karen J. Harshman, 64

11102 Dolores Court, east of Hagerstown


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