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Carroll County commissioners will start the new year with a new set of responsibilities as some of their assignments to various county and state boards and agencies change.

Each year, the commissioners typically decide to change their positions in order to develop knowledge of various issues in the county, said Commissioner Steve Wantz, R-District 1, who serves as president of the Board of County Commissioners.

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"I think it makes for a more well-rounded individual as far as an elected official, and I think it's important for us to get a well-rounded education to make decisions," Wantz said.

Arguably the most prominent of those changes will be a swap between Commissioner Richard Rothschild, R-District 4, and Commissioner Richard Weaver, R-District 2. Rothschild will replace Weaver as an ex-officio member, or a person who holds the position by virtue of office, of the county Board of Education, and Weaver will now serve as an ex-officio member of the county Planning and Zoning Commission.

Ex-officio members of the Board of Education do not have the ability to cast a vote, however, those who sit on the Planning and Zoning Commission do.

"We all have special interests, but it's important for all of us to understand everything," Weaver said, "It will be good for everybody if all of us have stronger backgrounds in different areas."

Commissioner Doug Howard, R-District 5, who served as ex-officio member of the Board of Education for three years, said: "We had an interesting conversation, and Commissioner Weaver thought it would be a good time to have someone else participate [on the Board of Education]. One of the benefits is when you sit on the other side of the table, you get a different perspective."

Howard, who served as ex-officio member of the Board of Education for three years, said the issue of finding adequate funding for Carroll County Public Schools will be the most important issue facing Carroll in coming years.

"Until we get this long-term funding structure in place, these closures completed and boundary adjustments, this will be the most important thing facing our community; it is issue No. 1, priority No. 1 and challenge No. 1 until we get this resolved," Howard said.

Rothschild, said, "I've spent a good deal of my life dealing with financial matters in business, and I believe it is the commissioners' hope that I can add a different perspective and dimension to discussions with the Board of Education that may help them better address some of their most pressing problems."

Rothschild said he sees the school system's current business model — one that requires additional county funding due to declining state aid, which is tied to student enrollment — as an oxymoron.

"Imagine running a business where the fewer customers you had, the more money you needed to take," he said. "It's a very difficult challenge and it's not their fault, but it's a problem that has to be dealt with."

In addition, Rothschild said there are a few issues that are of personal importance to him, that he would like to bring up in discussions at school board meetings.

"I've had some increasing concerns that some of the exercises the Carroll County Public School system has been involved in have crossed the line of education into politics, and I'm hoping that I can bring about some lively discussion on those issues, and I also believe that the Board of Education has some difficult issues related to the maintenance of their infrastructure," he said.

Rothschild declined to identify which exercises he was referring to, but said his goal will be to encourage discourse and debate. He will be present at the school board's next meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 13.

Superintendent Stephen Guthrie, who serves as executive officer, secretary and treasurer of the Board of Education, said the commissioner who sits on the board often changes each year, so school officials did not expect that Weaver would continue for a second year.

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"I think it's a good thing," Guthrie said of the change. "It will be an enlightening experience for both bodies."

Board of Education President Jim Doolan said he looks forward to working with Rothschild.

"I welcome any of the commissioners who wants to serve on our board," Doolan said.

According to Deborah Lundahl, public information officer for Carroll County government, Howard served as ex-officio member of the Board of Education from 2011-2013 and former Commissioner David Roush, R-District 3, served in 2014 before Weaver served last year.

A few of the commissioners' board assignments will remain the same from last year, Wantz said. Commissioner Dennis Frazier, R-District 3, will continue to serve as ex-officio member of the Carroll Community College board of trustees; Howard will continue to represent the commissioners on the county Commission on Aging and Disabilities; and Weaver will continue to represent the board of commissioners on the county Agricultural Commission, according to Wantz.

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Commissioners 2016 assignments

Steve Wantz: Rural Counties Coalition, law enforcement liaison, Economic Alliance, Economic Development

Richard Weaver: Agricultural Commission, Carroll County Farm Museum liaison, Planning and Zoning Commission, Veterans Advisory Council

Dennis Frazier: Broadband initiative liaison, Carroll Community College board of trustees, Maryland Municipal League

Richard Rothschild: Board of Education, Rural Counties Coalition, Clean Chesapeake Coalition and Maryland Association of Counties (serves as alternate to Wantz)

Doug Howard: Commission on Aging and Disabilities, Baltimore Metropolitan Council, Planning and Zoning (serves as alternate to Weaver), Transportation Advisory Council, Veterans Advisory Council, Fort Meade liaison

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