School board candidates differ on costs


WESTMINSTER -- The two school board candidates disagree about whether administrative costs are too high, but they agree that the county commissioners should not have line-item veto power.

"Do we have a superintendent who makes too much money?" incumbent Cheryl A. McFalls asked. "We do not."

Superintendent R. Edward Shilling makes $104,626 a year.

He is responsible for 23,000 students, 2,350 employees and a $110 million operating budget, she said. His salary is competitive with those of other superintendents in the area, she added.

C. Scott Stone, who is challenging Mrs. McFalls for the school board seat, said the county has "a steep, multilayer administrative structure" that could be thinned by moving some administrators into vacant teaching positions.

The schools have 10 1/2 teaching positions either on hold or vacant, he said, adding that administrators most likely were good teachers at one time and could be moved back to the classroom.

The two candidates, who face each other in the Nov. 3 election, answered questions last night at a Carroll County Democratic Club meeting at the Frisco Pub. About 35 people attended.

Mrs. McFalls, who is president of the Board of Education, is the only board member whose term expires this year. The race for the $1,800-a-year seat is non-partisan.

Mrs. McFalls, 41, of Manchester, is ending her first six-year term. She stressed her involvement in the school system as a parent and volunteer.

Mr. Stone, also 41, of Hampstead, is an engineer for AT&T; Corp. and said he would offer "a strong, balanced approach" to the board based on his educational and professional experience.

The candidates agreed that the county commissioners should not be able to knock certain items out of the school board budget. The commissioners have asked the state legislative delegation to introduce a bill in the General Assembly giving them that power.

Mr. Stone said the potential for abuse would be great. One elected body could have a significant impact on the performance of another elected body, he said.

Mrs. McFalls said the commissioners had line-item veto power last year and did not use it.

She said she wants to continue her efforts on school improvement programs and keep working to help alleviate overcrowding in school buildings.

"I bring the parent's view to the board. That's what I am, first and foremost," she said.

Mr. Stone said he would focus resources on the classroom by reducing class size and providing the latest technology. Students need to understand technology to remain competitive, he said.

He also said he would work to increase community participation by advocating evening board meetings and developing business partnerships.

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