xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

Board of Education candidates talk biggest problem facing school system

Carroll County Board of Education candidates, clockwise from upper left: former Carroll County schools instructional assistant Mary Kowalski, of Westminster; retired Carroll County schools teacher Marsha Herbert, of Westminster; actuary Donna Sivigny, of Finksburg; and Howard County teacher Julie Kingsley, of Mount Airy.
Carroll County Board of Education candidates, clockwise from upper left: former Carroll County schools instructional assistant Mary Kowalski, of Westminster; retired Carroll County schools teacher Marsha Herbert, of Westminster; actuary Donna Sivigny, of Finksburg; and Howard County teacher Julie Kingsley, of Mount Airy.

Election Day is this Tuesday, Nov. 8.

Four candidates are running for two seats on the nonpartisan Carroll County Board of Education. They are retired Carroll County schools teacher Marsha Herbert, of Westminster; Howard County teacher Julie Kingsley, of Mount Airy; former Carroll County schools instructional assistant Mary Kowalski, of Westminster; and actuary Donna Sivigny, of Finksburg.

Advertisement

As Election Day approaches, the Carroll County Board of Education continues to face a multitude of issues from a large funding gap, a continuing enrollment decline, possible policy changes in Title IX when dealing with transgender students, achievement gaps and more.

Ten questions with the Board of Education candidates

The Times reached out to all four candidates to ask what they think the single-most important issue is facing the school system, and also what specifically they plan to do to address it if elected. The candidates were asked to respond in 150 words or less.

Advertisement
Advertisement

A total of 10 questions were sent to each of the candidates to answer, six of which have run in print. To read all of the candidates responses, visit www.carrollcountytimes.com/elections.

Marsha Herbert

The issues of funding along with declining enrollment — they go hand and hand. Projections show that CCPS will lose approximately 400 students a year until 2020. Funding from the three main sources, the federal government, the State of Maryland and Carroll County will not be adequate to meet the needs of our students without the BOE making tough, common-sense choices and seeking creative solutions.

Julie Kingsley

Advertisement

We are at risk of losing focus on providing a high-quality education in the midst of our county's funding challenges. We must as a community maintain a top-notch education system to attract new families, enhance property values, and enjoy all the positive outcomes of strong schools. Although addressing declining enrollment and inadequate revenue is critical to the health of our system, so is ensuring that we don't erode the quality of learning.

With employee defections, difficulty hiring experienced teachers, reductions to support staff, and inability to make sufficient improvements — particularly to special education, gifted and talented, and STEM programs — we are at risk of doing real harm. Education is the crucial tool students need to become productive and responsible citizens. Remember that behind all of the spreadsheets, metrics and dollar signs there are 25,000 intelligent, energetic children who are full of potential and optimistic about their future.

Mary Kowalski

The biggest issue we face is corruption. There are really only two possibilities. The first possibility is that we have incredibly incompetent individuals at the helm of our school system. However, there is simply no real evidence to support this. Our school headquarters is staffed by highly educated and experienced people. The other possibility is corruption. The red flags have been waving for years. However, the problem is worsening, and our school children are suffering. We cannot afford to bury our heads in the sand and pretend the problem doesn't exist.

By closing schools, we artificially create statistics that suggest our schools are becoming overcrowded again. On paper, this makes us eligible for state funding to build new schools. When we build new schools, construction contractors reap lucrative deals. This creates an atmosphere conducive to corruption and kickbacks. If elected, I will have zero tolerance for corruption in our schools.

Donna Sivigny

Declining student enrollment is the single most important issue. The phenomenon causing this is known as "aging in place" and is not unique to Carroll County. We also have infrastructure constraints to growth — limited water resources — making quick growth infeasible.

Student enrollment projections are determined by live births, as well as net migration into the county. The good news is that live birth trends have stabilized. But an average of 1,600 per year with 100 percent net migration and 13 grades in the school system projects to an ultimate population of about 21,000 students, versus current capacity of 29,500 (or 71 percent utilization). Putting that into perspective, CCPS is projected to lose 400 student population per year for the next several years. That's the equivalent of almost an entire elementary school population per year. We need to recognize the problem, set a vision and design a comprehensive solution.

410-857-7862

twitter.com/emilychappell13



Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement