In retirement, Bauer hopes to remain involved in education after 20 years on school board
By By Sarah Hainesworth and Times Staff Writer
Dec 27, 2014 | 3:00 AM
When discussing Carroll County's Board of Education, it's hard not to mention the name Gary Bauer.
Bauer has been an integral member of the Carroll County Public Schools system since before he was elected to the school board 20 years ago.
Bauer, a parent and previously a Baltimore City firefighter, was an active citizen participant at board meetings in the early 1990s, but he didn't think to run for a seat on the board until others suggested it.
"At that time, they were talking about a new educational program called outcome-based education." Bauer said. "There was the academic side, establishing outcomes for students to learn. The other side dealt with it being an effective program where you were dealing with issues of thinking and interpretation.
"That's how I got involved. I was at meetings, and I spoke on it every time it came up, and some people said, 'Well, why don't you run?' and I did."
Since he was elected in 1994, Bauer has tackled a plethora of issues on the board, but he particularly recalled his work with the math commission and Education That Is Multicultural.
"I was appointed to the Maryland State Department of Education math commission. We encouraged them to teach algebra and concepts in the lower grades so when the kids got to middle school and high school it wasn't a mystery. That's still being implemented today," he said.
Education That Is Multicultural was an effort to make sure students weren't just being taught Western culture, Bauer said.
"We were recognizing other people that contributed to the content that we teach in the school system and also recognizing that these cultures are very viable in everything we do in life," he said.
Those who had the opportunity to work with Bauer during his two decades as a board member value the contributions he has made to the school system.
"Gary was not only effective as a local board member — he always analyzed the issues that came before the board and tried to render all sides of an issue before he gave his opinion," Superintendent Stephen Guthrie said. "Gary regularly went to D.C. to speak with legislators on education issues that affected Carroll County. He hit local, state and national issues of education, and if you take a look at the 20-year history, it takes that long to do those things."
Current board President Virginia Harrison agreed that Bauer was an integral part of the school board.
"Mostly he'll be missed because he was sort of like an institution," Harrison said. "He was the longest board member that we know of. When we would do programs with the school system, Gary would always be there. He was very visible in the community, always out in the community, out in schools."
Board member Barbara Shreeve served on the board for two terms and retired this year, along with Bauer. Shreeve said Bauer was someone she admired during her eight-year tenure.
"I respected him because he served so long on the Board of Education. When I got on the board, I kind of looked up to him because he knew the ropes," Shreeve said.
"I admire him for his longevity. He's seen a lot of changes. I think he and I agreed on a lot of things, and we saw things in the same perspective: what was best for students. He was very involved in the Maryland Association of Boards of Education and he represented us very well."
With Shreeve and Bauer both stepping down from the board this year, Devon Rothschild and Bob Lord were elected to take their seats.
Bauer offered a few words of advice to the new board members.
"Their job is more than just one meeting a month," he said, suggesting board members dedicate 20 to 30 hours per week.
"To be an effective board member, you need to read the materials you receive, and you need to be involved in what's going on in education not only at the county level but the state level. Become members of a couple of websites that discuss what's going on in education every day."
Bauer was celebrated at the Board of Education meeting Nov. 12, and although he is no longer a member of the board, he plans to remain involved in some way.
"I'm now one of the citizens that serve on the audit committee, and I'll go to the board meetings every now and then to listen and watch what's going on," he said. "I've offered the superintendent my services if he needs me."
Having been a board member for two decades, Bauer contributed to many of the accomplishments of the school board but there are still hurdles he would like to see met during his retirement.
"I'm hoping the new [Carroll County Board of Commissioners] realize the importance of public education," he said. "Even though our enrollment is going down, our costs are still going up, and we need to give our teachers a raise. If you don't compensate the people that work for you, they're going to start looking around. If we don't give them raises, it makes it hard for them.
"The county needs to step up a little bit and provide more funding to the school system."