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Carroll County Times
Carroll County News

George Harmening, Board of Education Candidate

George Harmening, of Westminster, is one of three people running in a block for seats on the Carroll County Board of Education.

Harmening is running alongside Charles "Bud" Nason and Jim Roenick on a platform focused on getting rid of the Common Core State Standards in the Carroll County Public School System. Incumbent Virginia Harrison is seeking reelection to the board, and challengers Bob Lord and Devon Rothschild are also running for the three seats on the ballot this November.

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Common Core, a controversial set of standards in mathematics and English language arts, was implemented in school systems across Maryland in the 2013-2014 academic year.

"Everyone knows the problems with Common Core," Harmening said. "It's an inferior quality of education. The United States is behind the rest of the world."

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If elected, Harmening plans to form a coalition of counties across the Maryland to lobby legislators to get rid of the standards. He said he is confident is can be done.

Although Harmening's son received an education at a private religious school, he said he is running to change the standards for his daughter, who is looking to attend public high school in the county in the coming years so she can participate in athletics.

Harmening said he believes changing the standards, which the curriculum is based on, may help to decrease the number of Carroll students who need remedial math and English when they start at Carroll Community College — although he acknowledges the Common Core standards aren't the sole reason for this.

Harmening is a product of the public school system in Howard County. He said he "got a great education at that point in time."

According to Harmening, a lot of the current issues in the Carroll County Public School System deal with how funds are being spent.

While he said he supports the school system receiving full funding from the Carroll County Board of Commissioners and state of Maryland, Harmening said it is important to understand how the school system is allocating funds.

If elected, Harmening said he will make sure the school system is being "fiscally responsible."

"The Board of Commissioners has fully funded the education system," Harmening said. "I have business management experience that I plan to bring to the table to see how the board [of education] is using the money and how it's being applied."

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According to Harmening, the school system's budget could be restructured to give Carroll County teachers a long awaited salary step increase. Carroll teachers have had one step increase in the last five years.

The school system reported a balance at around $15.5 million, which Harmening believes could have been used to fund step increases for teachers.

"We need to respect our teachers; they are the foundations of our education system," Harmening said. "Our teachers are underpaid."

Starting teacher salary as of the 2009 fiscal year was $40,400; that figure is planned to be increased to $43,000 in the 2016 spending year, school system officials say.

Some of that fund balance was used for teacher pay, although not in the form of step increases. According to a budget presentation this past spring made by Superintendent Steve Guthrie, about $5.2 million was used for negotiated 2.5 percent bonuses, one-time operating expenses and to make up for a state revenue shortfall. As a result the fund balance decreased to around $9.3 million. In FY15, the fund balance is set to be used for a 3 percent negotiated bonus and to cover a one-time budget shortfall, and without further contribution, will be reduced to about $4.2 million. After a 1 percent negotiated bonus in FY16, it is expected to be at $2.2 million.

Harmening said a panel also needs to be established to review the state of several school facilities in the county including the Carroll County Career and Technology Center.

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Overall, Harmening said there needs to be more community input in the school system. Currently, Carroll County Board of Education meetings begin at 4 p.m.

"Parents would have to take off work to make those meetings," Harmening said "If they make the time 7 p.m., parents would have a chance to come home from work and get a little dinner."

Harmening also said he would be willing and open to staying later to talk to concerned parents.

Throughout his campaign, Harmening said several members of the community have contacted him about other issues in the Carroll school system. He said his plans to address those concerns will be revealed after the Nov. 4 election.

Reach staff writer Krishana Davis at 410-857-7862 or krishana.davis@carrollcountytimes.com.

George Harmening

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Website: georgeeharmeningdvm.com

Hometown: Westminster

Political Experience: Political activist for 4 years

Marital Status: married 24 years

Children/Age: Son 18 years old and daughter 11 years old

Current Employment: Veterinarian

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How Many Years: 25

Education: BS Animal Science University Maryland, Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine Virginia Tech

Community Groups Involved In: 4-H Club, Boy Scouts of America, People to People, Mentor in the Mentorship program in the Howard County Public School system

Carroll County Board of Education Election

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The Carroll County Times will be profiling the six Carroll County Board of Education candidates running for three open positions.

Monday: George Harmening

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Tuesday: Virginia Harrison

Wednesday: Bob Lord

Thursday: Charles "Bud" Nason

Friday: Jim Roenick

Saturday: Devon Rothschild


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