School board member wants informal meetings with public

January 06, 2011
  • Washington County Board of Education member Karen Harshman
File photo

HAGERSTOWN — The Washington County Board of Education will discuss a proposal by new member Karen Harshman to meet informally once a month with the public to discuss concerns with parents, teachers, students and other community members.

Harshman wrote about her idea in a letter to the editor published in The Herald-Mail on Dec. 12 and broached the idea near the end of a school board meeting Tuesday.

Harshman invited other school board members to join her, but said after the meeting that she would hold the meetings regardless of whether other board members came.

Board Vice President W. Edward Forrest suggested board members hold “a unified coffee and conversation,” referring to the informal meetings the board used to have with the public that were called “Coffee and Conversation,” according to a video of the board meeting.

Board member Donna Brightman suggested the matter be discussed during a board retreat.

The board also could discuss other issues, “as well as some board norms and how we’re all going to play well together,” Brightman said.

After the meeting, board President Wayne Ridenour said the elected board is a “body politic” or “seven people who become one,” and the board should discuss whether it wants to have such meetings.

Later Tuesday, after speaking with Harshman, Ridenour said the board probably will hold the meetings.

“We’re going to do something along those lines,” Ridenour said.

The logistics have to be determined, and the idea will be discussed during a board retreat that could occur this month, he said.

— Julie E. Greene

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