With the gate closed on filing for candidacy, voters now must prepare to pare down the 11 school board candidates to four in the Sept. 13 nonpartisan primary.
Two seats are open. Incumbent Carolyn L. Scott is running again, but John D. Myers is not.
Challengers are Laura E. Albers, Michael R. Baker, Gary V. Bauer, Evelyn E. Butler, Wayne Cogswell, Kathleen P. Hamblet, Thomas G. Hiltz, Deborah J. Paisie, Carole M. "Cyd" Pecoraro and Deborah Jane Winter.
Ms. Hamblet of Taylorsville and Ms. Butler of Westminster are the last two to file in the past week. Each stressed class size as a major concern, but they differed on other issues, including outcomes-based education.
Ms. Butler said she believes the large number of candidates is a sign of frustration with the current board.
Ms. Hamblet said that she is running because she believes the current board has done an excellent job, and she would like to see the progress continue.
"They make decisions based on what information they gather, not just the number of people in the room jumping up and down and screaming," she said.
Ms. Hamblet, 39, said that she saw an increasing number of candidates file out of dissatisfaction with board, and felt that it was important for people to run who wanted to continue what she saw as the board's "patriotic, American spirit."
Although there are many specific issues that concern her, she said chief among them is reducing the pupil-teacher ratio.
"It seems something more could be done, particularly at the early grades, to have a teaching assistant in more classrooms," she said.
Ms. Hamblet said that she supports outcomes-based education as it is being carried out in Carroll County. She said that the plan would set clear goals for what parents can expect of students and teachers in each course and at graduation.
"These outcomes will be the natural result. If we teach well in the classroom, our children will be 'able communicators,' they will be 'perceptive problem-solvers,' " she said, quoting two of the seven goals, called exit outcomes, adopted by the board.
She has worked on parent-teacher committees to draft and refine the outcomes and on other countywide school committees.
She has a son at New Windsor Middle School and a daughter at Winfield Elementary School, and she has volunteered in those schools. She is a past president of the Winfield Elementary School Parent Teacher Association and current treasurer of the Carroll County Council of PTAs.
She is a widow and has lived in Carroll County for five years. This is her first run for a public office.
Ms. Butler, 47, is also making her first bid for public office. A former teacher, she spent two years teaching seventh-grade math in Hagerstown before her son was born. He is a student at Westminster High School. She is married to Allan K. Butler, coordinator of the alternative programs for Carroll County schools.
Ms. Butler said she is frustrated with the board for starting other projects and raising administrators' salaries when it should put all money toward reducing class size and boosting computer and technology in the classrooms.
"The only thing that's going to reduce class size is to hire more teachers and build more schools," Ms. Butler said. She would also like to see the schools purchase more computers and software for the classrooms.
"Those three things we need to spend money on; nothing else."
To save money for hiring teachers, Ms. Butler said, she would not vote to raise administrator salaries.
"I think they should be frozen, and in some cases rolled back," she said. If elected, it is questionable whether she would be allowed to vote on administrator salaries, because her husband is one. "I would rather vote, so I could vote no," she said.
She opposes outcomes-based education for two reasons, she said. One is that the teacher training and curriculum revision involved takes money away from reducing class size, she said. The other is that the method involves group learning, which she believes does not work well.
She also supports adding teachers who specialize in math for elementary schools, the way some teachers in each school specialize in reading.
Most elementary teachers are well-versed in reading, she said, but many of them don't love math enough to do the subject justice.
Ms. Butler said her other chief concern is the testing and evaluation of children with learning disabilities. Dyslexia, a reading perception disorder, runs in her family, she said.
She said she would like to see more attention to different tests that would catch learning disabilities in bright children who are managing to keep up with grade level work, but still need help.