JANE ANDREW HAS BEEN THERE BEFORE, which is why she believes she ought to be sent back.
"I believe the (school) board seat is critical now," said Andrew, one of seven candidates for the Board of Education seat being vacated by Patricia Huecker. "It should not be left to someone who is just starting up. I know people in schools and the community. And I know, (for) when this crisis is over, which way is up for county schools."
About 60 people sat in the auditorium of North County High Tuesday night, taking advantage of the final opportunity to quiz the slate of candidates, which includes three former principals, an attorney, abusinessman and a college administrator.
Delegates to the convention, which is slated for 7 p.m. May 1 at Severna Park High School, will vote for who they would like to see appointed to the board by Gov. William Donald Schaefer. The final decision, however, rests with the governor.
Tuesday night, each of the candidates took advantage of their last opportunity to answer questions from the delegates.
Maureen Carr York, a Severna Park nurse and attorney now working as a consultant, stressed the importance of improving communications between the school system and County Council -- a hot topic since a reportfrom former school Superintendent Edward J. Anderson questioned their ability to work together.
"The atmosphere is destructive," York said. "We have got to keep the communication going. I would like to be able to say I have easy answers. I can only say I will do the best of my ability."
Thomas F. Angelis of Davidsonville, a sales representative for a restaurant supply company, told the audience that the school system must learn to do more with what they have. And he promoted a closer working relationship between schools and the commercial sector.
"We do not need to increase taxes; we should be using the business community to increase our efforts," Angelis said. "The business community is waiting to be asked."
Flaunting a no-nonsense business approach to education, he complained of wasted money on half-empty school buses. Eliminate them, he said, and the savings could be used to offset other school costs.
Former county principal Thomas Maxwell tossed his notes aside to talk "openly and honestly" to the audience.
"I have common sense to be able to see what is good or not," Maxwell said. "I also have somewhat of an analytical mind to look at things. I also have two ears, two eyes and one mouth. An effectiveboard member should be one who listens."
Candidate William A. Xenakis of Severn, who heads the University College at the University ofMaryland, touted a hands-on approach that he said won him support from feuding teacher unions as an elected school board member in Arizona for three years.
"I joined the board at a time when it was beingtorn apart," Xenakis said. "I helped open the lines of communicationby getting people to work together."
Several candidates addressedconcerns raised by the state's functional tests, which require that students receive passing grades in several skill areas before graduating high school.
Crownsville resident Robert L. Ruffo said he disapproves of teaching to the new state tests.
Alan G. Levin, also a former principal, said he wants to place more responsibility for curriculum design in the hands of teachers, while also making them more accountable for results.
Huecker and board President Nancy Gist attended Tuesday's hearing. John W. Anderson, acting chairman of the convention, cited their presence as a sign of the rebirth of a process some feared was on its last legs.
"We've got seven candidates this year who are all qualified," Anderson said. "It's a real contest. In the past, people felt the convention was ignored. (County Executive Robert R.) Neall has promised cooperation. And the other indicator is that school board membersare showing up. It's very exciting."