School board candidates grade system, discuss issues

Carroll voters to narrow field to 4 for Nov. ballot

March 05, 2000

In Tuesday's primary, voters can choose up to two candidates for the Carroll County Board of Education. The school board race is nonpartisan. The top four vote-getters will appear on the ballot in the November general election, competing for two open seats.

The Sun sent each school board candidate a form seeking biographical information and asking: 1) What are the most important issues facing Carroll County public schools? 2) What are your most important qualifications to be a member of the school board? 3) How would you grade the current school board and why? 4) How would you grade the current superintendent, William H. Hyde, and why?

Tuesday's ballot will have 24 names; 21 profiles appear here. Two candidates, Gregory A. Dorsey and Charles R. Inman, have dropped out of the race. Candidate Lawrence P. Prodoehl declined to respond to The Sun's request. The responses have been edited for brevity and clarity.

Philip G. Brand

Age: 56

Profession: Consultant

Residence: Sykesville

Family: Married with four children in Carroll schools

Issues: Brand wants to "re-establish/enhance credibility and public confidence" in the school board; focus on hiring and retaining highly qualified teachers, given the shortage of college graduates with education degrees and the need to reduce class size; and ensure technology is used more in Carroll schools.

Qualifications: "I possess a combination of private and public sector executive level management and business experience coupled with understanding of financial and human resources management." He mentioned that he had been district director for the Internal Revenue Service and an adjunct professor of public finance at Rutgers University.

School board grade: C. "The board has suffered a loss of credibility when it comes to oversight and in the openness of their decision-making. Individual board members are well-intentioned and most no doubt perform at the A level, however, collectively there has been a lack of focus. I would like to see board meetings held more frequently in varying locations around the county and at various times to promote access."

Superintendent grade: B. "We have a strong sense of community, a great county and an overall good standard of living. I was somewhat troubled by last summer's open letter to the superintendent signed by all high school principals listing concerns they felt were not being adequately addressed. There appears to be some disconnect in communications between central staff and the front-line administrators and teachers."

Lisa Breslin

Age: 39

Profession: Part-time English lecturer, Western Maryland College

Residence: Westminster

Family: Married with two children in Carroll schools

Issues: "Three issues with big price tags loom in Carroll County: attracting and retaining qualified teachers and support staff, achieving reasonable class sizes so teachers can meet students' diverse needs, and renovating old facilities and building new ones in the best locations. We need to make some changes to the redistricting plan, implement it, then gain countywide support for easing the overcrowding at Westminster High School."

Qualifications: "I have an understanding that comes with being an active volunteer in CCPS [Carroll County public schools], not only at my children's school, but also with the CCPS Resource Allocation Committee and Citizens for Schools. I bring the skills and experience as a teacher to this position. In turn, as a journalist I have been an advocate and a monitor of the school system for many years. I believe a little optimism and diplomacy will go a long way."

School board grade: C. "Because of its inability to rise above individual personality clashes and personal agendas. I would grade some of the individual board members with much higher marks, but the effectiveness of the whole board is what defines a strong school system."

Superintendent grade: B-. "Mr. Hyde seems to have trouble rallying the troops behind his well-defined vision for quality education in CCPS." Breslin said Hyde has created many committees drawing opinions together but that it is too early to tell whether the committees "are merely politically correct gestures at a time when constituents are begging for open, honest communication."

John P. Buchheister Jr.

Age: 53

Profession: Retired teacher

Residence: Hampstead

Family: Has two adult children who graduated from Carroll schools

Issues: "Prudent new school construction and oversight; appropriate class size; quality teacher recruitment."

Qualifications: Buchheister said he has experience "in all phases of public education" and that he "will be able to add perspective to the board in regard to what is requested and what is really important."

School board grade: C-. "They appear to be lax in oversight of the administration's activities. They also have created a feeling in the community of rubber-stamping the superintendent."

Superintendent grade: C-. "Has not done anything significant to improve our schools."

John A. Ferrara

Age: 42

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