Outcomes-based education has emerged as the key issue in the Carroll County school board race, but in the southeast county, that topic takes a back seat to school crowding.
Questions about what school board candidates would do to lobby for building more schools -- or fewer houses -- dominated a forum sponsored by the Carrolltowne Elementary School PTA last night.
"What can you do that we wouldn't be able to do for ourselves?" asked Marian Sleeper, president of the Sykesville Middle School PTA.
Although the candidates were supportive of more school construction, they acknowledged that the county commissioners and the state control the purse strings.
"The school board is not a funding authority," said incumbent Carolyn L. Scott. "We need to look to the commissioners for our money, and elect people who are going to control growth in some way, and fund the growth that's already here."
Ms. Sleeper had directed her question to candidate Carole M. "Cyd" Pecoraro, who has included school crowding as one of her key campaign issues.
Ms. Pecoraro said she and other school board members would have the responsibility of telling legislators and other officials how important school construction is.
"We should say, 'We're Carroll County, we are a great school system, and we need your help and your money,' " she said. "We can't give our children a good education if they don't have classrooms to sit in."
Candidates Gary W. Bauer and Laura E. Albers also endorsed the parents' position that the county needs to keep up with growing school enrollment.
Mr. Bauer said the $100 million the county has spent on school construction that was not reimbursed by the state should exempt the local schools from state mandates.
In the Eldersburg-Sykesville area, parents have been lobbying to build Oklahoma Road Middle School.
Its construction would ease crowding at Sykesville Middle, which is about 250 students over capacity.
The opening date is in peril of a year's delay unless the county finds a way to float $4 million until the state releases its portion of the cost in July.
Other questions from the roughly 30 people who attended dealt with things they had heard during campaigns and wanted clarified.
Piney Ridge Elementary School PTA President Nick Baccala said he had heard that some candidates did not support PTAs.
All the candidates last night said they did support PTAs and PTOs, although Ms. Albers acknowledged that she no longer joins the PTAs at her children's schools because she objects to some bylaws of the national organization.
The two highest vote-getters in the Nov. 8 election will join the five-member board in January.