Voters in Carroll County have a genuine choice in the school board's non-partisan election. Running for a second term is the incumbent president, Cheryl A. McFalls of Manchester. Her challenger is engineer C. Scott Stone of Hampstead.
On the whole, Carroll's schools are functioning well even while coping with growing enrollments and strained budgets. Student performance, as measured by the Maryland School Performance Program, is excellent or satisfactory in most categories.
Parents should not take too much comfort in that, however. Only 28.6 percent of Carroll's high school graduates completed the minimum course requirements needed to enroll in the University of Maryland System, compared to the statewide average of 43.5 percent, according to the 1991 state performance report. Carroll's level is among the state's lowest and in need of attention.
During her six-year tenure, Mrs. McFalls helped to develop board policies that raised teachers' and administrators' pay and improved the performance of Carroll's students. However, an inordinate amount of her time -- as well as the board's -- has been devoted to reviewing numerous books, videotapes and plays that offended "community standards." During this campaign, Mrs. McFalls said county voters expect the school board to review materials to ensure they are appropriate. But when the board does this at the expense of its other important responsibilities, voters have a right to wonder if the board has its priorities in order. Certainly, it didn't when the board entered into a contract that automatically increased Superintendent Edward Shilling's pay even though other school employees had their pay frozen except for step increases.
Mr. Stone, an engineer with AT&T, would bring a fresh perspective to the board. He understands that Carroll's graduates will compete for jobs with graduates from Baltimore and York counties as well as with graduates from Japan, Taiwan and Germany. Mr. Stone also has the ability to closely examine the budget and find the fat, a skill more necessary than ever. He has a balanced view of appropriate course materials and will let the community-based curriculum council review the materials for the board.
We urge Carroll voters to elect C. Scott Stone to the school board.