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Expect few changes from the Carroll Board of Education when longtime incumbents Robert L. Fletcher and T. Edward Lippy step down next month.

Although newcomers Ann M. Ballard and Joseph D. Mish Jr. will likely offer some new ideas, both they and current members say they believe the board's focus will continue to be school improvement and the implementation of state and local education recommendations.

"I don't expect the direction or the emphasis of the board to change," said Lippy, the board's president, who is leaving the $1,500-a-year position after nearly two decades.

"The school improvement initiatives are going to have a lot of impact on what the board does and what the system does in the future."

Added board member Cheryl A. McFalls, "I believe the board will stay fairly constant. During the campaign I went to some of the forums and heard Mrs. Ballard and Mr. Mish talk. I feel they have a real concern for children and that children are their priority."

Topping the agenda when the five-member board convenes in January, though, will be the election of a new president and vice president. John D.

Myers, who served as president before Lippy's tenure, said he would consider the position. Both Carolyn L. Scott and McFalls have been mentioned as likely candidates.

Not likely to be considered for either position are the new members -- Ballard, a Mount Airy housewife who has been active in school and community activities and Mish, a retired county school teacher from Sykesville.

Even so, both will begin their six-year terms with some ideas of their own.

Ballard, for example, has espoused reducing the student-teacher ratio in county classrooms. Mish is a proponent of increasing teachers salaries to make Carroll's more competitive with other county's.

Although board members have commended their ideas, both they and the newcomers admitted those changes cannot happen overnight, especially given the downturn in the economy.

"Those are things that will be addressed over a long period of time," Mish said. "They may be realistic in five or 10 years, but they're not realistic over the next two or three years.

"We simply can't move that fast," he said. "Reducing class size and improving salaries cost money."

Ballard, however, retains some hope about her concerns.

"The class size is just too large," she said. "Having 30 or 32 children in a classroom is too much. I hope that we can go over the budget and see what can be cut to improve this."

Both Mish and Ballard noted that Lippy and Fletcher are tough acts to follow. Lippy chose not to seek re-election. In seeking a third term, Fletcher lost his seat by a mere 13 votes to Ballard.

"I wouldn't ask for a recount," said Fletcher, a logistics specialist for Westinghouse Electric Corp. "It would just mean hassles with the courts and all that. It's not worth the stress. I'm glad it's over."

Those comments are characteristic of Fletcher, said other board members who described the Westminster resident as laid back and quiet, but an effective board member.

When asked about the contributions Fletcher and Lippy have made to the school system, board members, educators and their replacements compiled a long list of accomplishments.

"Both Ed and Bob were acclimated to communication -- keeping the communication lines open with students and employees," Myers said.

"I think that when you look at both of these players, you see a strong commitment to the community."

Superintendent R. Edward Shilling placed leadership high on the list of Lippy's contributions.

"He played a significant leadership role in the early 1970s and in the past three years or so in the area of school construction and planning," Shilling said. "Many schools were needed, planned and built."

The superintendent said Fletcher supported numerous improvements and played an important role in supporting staff and teachers in programs like the hands-on science program at the elementary level. Fletcher also was a strong advocate of the county's vo-tech program, Shilling said.

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