LAVALE — The Allegany County Chamber of Commerce hosted a forum on Wednesday for local school board candidates in the 2022 general election.
The event, held at LaVale Library, was made possible by Allegany Media and WFWM, said chamber executive director Juli McCoy.
“All candidates will receive the same questions and will have the same amount of time to answer each question,” said forum moderator Jeremy Irons, chairman of the House Legislative Committee. “The chamber does not endorse any candidate and is a non-partisan organization.”
Candidates for the Allegany County Public Schools Board of Education include incumbents David Bohn and Robert Farrell, Lori Lepley, Meggin Miller and Linda Widmyer.
Candidate Janet Heavner was not present.
The questions focused on how to make better use of the Center for Career and Technical Education, encourage students to take training programs at Western Maryland Works, and increase safety measures for visitors to school buildings.
The answers were often long. Full answers are on the chamber youtube channel.
When asked what was the main objective of their candidacy for a seat on the school board, the answers were as follows:
Bohn: “What I would like to see happen is to continue on the path that we have taken. I think the school board is in better shape – even considering we just went through COVID – than it has been in a long time.
Farrell: “I want to see students surpassing everything they can do. We just went through COVID and some of the kids, because they weren’t in the classrooms and doing things virtually, I think didn’t do as well as they could.
Lepley: “I would like to address the learning loss that happened with COVID… We were ahead of the game before COVID. Our proficiency scores were higher than the average Maryland score. I would like this to continue. »
Miller: “I want to be your voice. If you’ve ever felt like someone wasn’t listening to you, or you want someone to speak for you, I want to be the person you can talk to.
Widmyer: “The first goal I want to achieve is to be respectful…to students, parents, our faculty, our staff, and my fellow board members…I’m not going to intimidate (people ) so that they try to be what I think they should be.
On whether CSPA is ready to implement Maryland’s Blueprint for the Future and its funding needs, responses included:
Bohn: “Overall, we are on the right track.” He talked about planned ACPS projects, including an early childhood program, summer schools and tutoring opportunities to help students progress.
Farrell: “It’s going to be very expensive because of the salaries and the different things that are going to be involved. I don’t know where the money will come from. I don’t know if the county can afford it.
Lepley: “We have already thrown away a lot of the preparatory work. In terms of funding, “I really have no idea how much extra it would cost…but there was (an) increase in our budget specifically for the Blueprint.”
Miller: “I’d like to see the plan that the council submitted…because it’s a lot of money. This is a wonderful, wonderful thing for Allegany County and for Maryland.
Widmyer: “Where the funding will come from, the county can’t afford it. We can’t afford the Blueprint, so something has to happen.
Candidates were asked to give their opinion on the health-related curriculum, “especially the framework of family life and human sexuality”.
Bohn: “These are all new avenues that we have to walk and look at and implement the mandated ones and do what we think we should do for the local community based on who you elect.”
Farrell: “I don’t believe that young children…that should be taught to them or put in front of them.” Young children should “play basketball, baseball, hide and seek, learn math and reading and that kind of stuff.”
Lepley: “Respecting the dignity of people of diverse genders is a very different goal from teaching gender ideology as if it were scientific fact. I think that’s where the problem lies. »
Miller: “ACPS, we are a public school system. We work directly with all families… Let’s focus on the basics and what the children need to learn.
Widmyer: “I think if that were ever a mandatory day in this county, because we’re a conservative, family-oriented county, I think there would be a big fight between teachers, staff, parents and the community. community.”
Regarding one thing they hope to accomplish in the school board, the candidates said:
Bohn: “A big part of the problem that some of our struggling students have is that it’s not a classroom problem, it’s a home problem.” Mental health resources should be more accessible to children, he said.
Farrell: “I want to keep the finances in good shape. I would like to increase school safety more and I would like to have more programs at the Career Center.
Lepley: “Make (students) competitive for college, labor. The loss of learning that has occurred over the past few years is drastic and we don’t even know the results of the most recent benchmark tests. »
Miller: “I would like every CSPA student to feel that they have someone…in this building who is their cheerleader…so that they can be successful.”
Widmyer: “I would like to see the budget increased to accommodate these teachers.” Some teachers “spent over $1,000 a year to buy extras for their classroom.”