School board president sees education as a cooperative venture affecting all Businesses must be involved HARFORD COUNTY

September 19, 1993|By Aminah Franklin | Aminah Franklin,Staff Writer

Percy V. Williams, beginning his second term as president of the Harford County school board, is picking up right where he left off in 1988.

The goals he has proposed for the 1993-1994 school year reflect some of the same objectives he steered the board toward five years ago: more involvement by the business community in the school system, increased diversity in the system's administration and more state money.

After Dr. Williams' first term as president, involvement from the business community increased dramatically. In 1989, fewer than 200 businesses were involved in school projects. Today, more than 1,800 businesses have formed partnerships with the 45-school system, providing money for scholarships, computers, textbooks and other classroom items.

The face of administration has also changed. When Dr. Williams joined the board in 1984, its seven adult members included no women or minorities.

A decade later, with Dr. Williams serving the last year of his second and final five-year term, he is one of two blacks on the board. His colleagues include two women.

Dr. Williams, 79, says he also worked to create a better relationship with the county government, including the county executive and the County Council. He notes that the school system's budget has increased from $103 million to $169 million in about five years.

A widower who lives in Havre de Grace with his sisters, Dr. Williams is a retired teacher and principal in county schools. He also has served as an assistant state superintendent of schools.

Educators today face challenges, Dr. Williams said, and he plans to use all his skills to help them. In an era when an increasing number of jobs require more advanced education, while those that require skilled labor are plummeting, education must become an even higher priority than it is, he said.

"If we don't move forward to improve the educational system and become more involved with higher levels of education, we're not going to be considered among the leading nations of the world," Dr. Williams said, adding that change must begin at the local level.

This year, for the first time, teachers, supervisors and staff members will develop five-year plans for each major subject area, including math, science, English, social studies and special education.

The five-year plans, due to be submitted to the school board in November, will detail each department's agenda for meeting 10 broader goals. Those include ensuring that the curriculum and instruction encompass thinking and decision-making skills, as well as ensuring that all students are prepared to participate in a full range of educational opportunities and academic challenges.

Dr. Williams said the board may encounter problems, such as finding the money or convincing parents, teachers and students that they must work aggressively for improvements.

"We can't tell right now which direction the economy is headed," he said. "There's no way of knowing how much money we can get from the state."

"As far as motivation, students and teachers alike are going to be pushed," he said. "Students are going to have to study harder, be prepared to pass more difficult tests and take more advanced subjects."

He said the schools and community need to work together. "We can't do it alone, and we certainly can't do it if we're going to be at odds with one another. It'll be a matter of coming together, sitting down and working things out toward a common goal -- the education of our children."

"Education is a cooperative endeavor," he said. "Education is everybody's business."

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