Montgomery School Board

Monday, October 16, 2006

MONTGOMERY County faces a major makeover of its seven-member Board of Education, with serious issues pending. Among them will be deciding whether to renew School Superintendent Jerry D. Weast's contract; reaching new labor agreements with teachers and other employees; coping with possible diminishing revenue as the real estate market cools; reshaping middle schools; and preparing high school students for new graduation requirements.

An at-large school board seat and two district seats will be decided in the Nov. 7 general election. In addition, there is a possibility of two more seats becoming vacant if incumbents Valerie Ervin and Stephen N. Abrams win election to the County Council. The school board would appoint their replacements. Patricia O'Neill in District 3 appears on the ballot, but she is unchallenged as she seeks a third term.

Shirley Brandman would bring a wealth of knowledge and new ideas to the at-large seat being vacated by Charles Haughey. As a lawyer, Ms. Brandman represented children in abuse and neglect cases; as an educator, she taught children with learning disabilities. Her interest and expertise in special education will be particularly helpful as the system continues to wrestle with how to improve the performance of these children.

In upcounty District 1, Judy Docca would be an able successor to Gabe Romero. Ms. Docca is a retired Montgomery school principal with 38 years of educational experience. She understands the challenges facing teachers and principals and the importance of parental involvement. Her advocacy for the needs of minority students will be useful as the system tries to shrink the achievement gap.

Phil Kauffman , a lawyer and an Olney school activist, is our choice for District 5 over the incumbent, Nancy Navarro. Mr. Kauffman has been active in school and community affairs for the past 12 years and is known as a constructive critic for change who understands the complexities facing the schools. Mr. Kauffman would be a good spokesman for the interests of the eastern part of the county while recognizing countywide needs.

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