School board: French, Waters Sun endorsements: These two offer the best background and understanding of education issues.

October 14, 1998

THE CONTINUOUS flow of families into Howard County challenges the school system to keep up with the student population. In Maryland, only Calvert County has had a greater rate of enrollment than Howard's 22 percent growth, but Howard has a much larger system, adding 7,000 students during the past five years alone.

It is important to have Board of Education members who can relate their decisions to the impact they will have on the county as a whole. Such thinking was evident in the budget compromise that the board and County Council reached earlier this year.

Such thinking will also be critical when the board begins the process of replacing Michael E. Hickey, the state's longest-serving school superintendent. He has said he will retire in 2000, after 16 years leading Howard County schools.

The four top vote getters in the nonpartisan primary held last month will run for two school board positions open on the Nov. 3 ballot.

Recommending one of the four is easy: Sandra H. French, a board member since 1992, deserves a second six-year term.

Mrs. French is assiduous in her questioning of staff to make sure lTC the good of the child is at the heart of every administrative decision. But the former English teacher and past president of the PTA Council of Howard County sees the broader picture as well.

She supports a prudent approach to school construction that would guard against overbuilding. Also commendable is Mrs. French's stated dedication to improving test scores among minority students.

Among the other three candidates, Laura Waters stands out as the one most capable of making a contribution.

Glenn Amato appears to be a one-issue candidate, involving a personal pique with the school system.

Arthur Neal Willoughby, an unsuccessful board candidate in 1996, hasn't advanced his limited knowledge of local school issues since that campaign.

Ms. Waters, a former substitute teacher in Howard schools, wants to improve student discipline. She makes an important observation in noting inconsistencies from school to school in the way punishment is meted out for similar offenses.

Several elementary, middle and high schools have been built next to each other in Howard County. Worth exploring is a suggestion by Ms. Waters that a crowded school be allowed to use an empty classroom in a nearby school that serves a different grade level when it would not be disruptive.

Such out-of-the-box thinking might make Ms. Waters an asset to the board. The Sun recommends Sandra H. French and Laura Waters for the Howard County Board of Education.

Tomorrow: Districts 12 and 13

Pub Date: 10/14/98

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