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School board candidates address voting, budget and overcrowding

August 15, 2010
  • Paul Bailey
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Editor's note: The 11 candidates for Washington County Board of Education on the Sept. 14 primary election ballot were asked to respond to eight questions. Four of their responses ran in Sunday's Herald-Mail and the other four are published below:

The candidates were asked 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. Except for occasional tweaking for clarity, the responses are as they were submitted.

Question: If elected, will you explain why you voted as you did on each issue?

Paul W. Bailey, 76

Incumbent

840 Kenly Ave., Hagerstown

Republican

The electorate should always receive a response to votes on most issues. Exceptions may occur with some personnel decisions, and matters that are confidential and cannot be breached by law.

Michael Joe Boyce, 41

16938 Shinham Road,

northwest of Hagerstown

Unaffiliated

Absolutely!

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Shawn M. Bryce, 45

10228 Easterday Court,

east of Hagerstown

Republican

I will be accessible to individuals who wish to discuss education. I will give feedback on issues and votes, unless I am prohibited by law.

Jacqueline Fischer, 64

13156 Independence Road,

west of Hagerstown

Democrat

I would have no problem sharing my reasons for my votes on major issues. However, rather than add time to school board meetings for these explanations, I would recommend that such statements be added to the business meeting minutes, which are published on the Board Docs website, or that they be included in The Herald-Mail news articles covering major board decisions.

Dottie Gruhler, 44

23315 Angela Court,

north of Smithsburg

Republican

Absolutely. Is that not my charge as a public servant?

Karen J. Harshman, 64

11102 Dolores Court,

east of Hagerstown

Democrat

Discussion on all decisions should be open to the public unless they involve a personnel issue, where confidentially is a must. The reason a board member votes the way he/she does should be open to the public. Too often the main concerns the community has about a specific issue never appear to have been addressed based on the final vote. An explanation of how that vote evolved should be expected and warranted.

Wayne M. Kretzer Jr., 42

334 N. Mulberry St.,

Hagerstown

Democrat

If elected, I would expect to explain how I voted. This would be on a need-to-know basis. If the public wants to know, they need to ask and I would certainly explain. If a group would want to know why I voted a certain way, I would expect a spokesperson to contact me or a meeting could be set up.

Francis X. Murray III, 43

21202 Serenity Drive

near Leitersburg

Republican

Absolutely I would, as long as I am legally able to do so. Citizens will know why I voted a certain way on each public item. Washington County citizens deserve knowing my justification for voting on an issue. I believe the citizens of Washington County would rather hear an answer of "no" than to not receive any answer. Citizens of Washington County deserve feedback from their elected officials (about) issues brought to the elected board either by an individual or group. If there is a reason that an immediate reply cannot be given, then that will be stated as well.

Gary E. Nally, 52

10607 Hershey Drive,

east of Williamsport

Democrat

As I am not a current member of the elected BOE, I am not familiar with the specific policies, procedures and protocol which would impact my response to your question. Further, I am certain there are closed sessions and decisions made by the elected BOE that will not be allowed for public dissemination.

James W. Staley, 44

1116 Fairview Road,

Hagerstown

Democrat

Yes, I would clarify my vote because I would be working for the taxpayers of Washington County.

Russell Williams, 67

450 Guilford Ave.,

Hagerstown

Democrat

I expect I will continue my practice of giving anyone willing to listen long, detailed and fact- filled explanations of my votes.




Question: What cuts would you make to the school system's budget?

Bailey: When cutting the budget it is necessary to be aware that approximately 85% of cost is in personnel. My first criteria for cutting the budget would be that it not impact instruction or eliminate programs. Our teacher-to-pupil ratios in Washington County are some of the best in the state. I would like to retain that; however, as a last resort, that may need to be increased in difficult budget years.

Boyce: First, I would want a thorough review of the budget and look for areas to increase efficiency. Then I would look for places where technology or new procedures could save money. I would like to explore the possibility of retrofitting the schools with solar and geothermal energy sources to reduce utility bills.

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