Ten residents from the Laurel-Beltsville-College Park area spoke before a panel of elected Prince George's County officials last week in the preliminary step in choosing a replacement for school board member Maureen Steinecke.
The 10 persons who are candidates for the job are Judith Wheatley of Laurel, Diana McCusker of Berwyn Heights, Craig Horn of Laurel, Ann Owens of College Park, Roy Wells of Laurel, Paul Duncan of Laurel, Doris Eugene of Beltsville, Leslie Stokes of Beltsville, Joseph Pagano of College Park and Peggy Rae Pavlat of College Park.
After studying the candidates' testimony on their positions on education and on fiscal planning the panel will recommend between three and five names to the Democratic Advisory Committee, known as the Breakfast Club, next Monday for approval by the county Democratic leadership.
The elected officials on the panel are State Sen. Arthur Dorman, Delegates Andrew Mothershead, Kay Bienan and Pauline Menes and County Council member Frank P. Casula. County Executive Winfield M. Kelly will make a final recommendation to the County Council, which must ratify his appointment to the seat that expires in 1980.
According to Kelly aide John Lally, the two top contenders, Doris Eugene and Craig Horn, will probably be included in the officials' selection, along with several others who spoke at the Chestnut Hills Elementary School public hearing.
Responding to Kelly's request for a "fiscal conservative," several candidates stressed their "tight purse strings" policies. Horn pledged to live by the attitude of "can we afford it? I hate to spend other people's money."
Horn said he planned "to eliminate every possible frill" in the school board budget.
Wheatley also called herself a "fiscal conservative" and said she would put a heavy emphasis on cost containment within the school board. She spoke of a "sort of school tax as only a means of gaining some means of fiscal automony." The school board now receives its funding through the county government.
Several speakers said they were "concerned" about "functional levels of education."
"I'm worried that the minimum will become the standard," said Eugene, who is the president of the Prince George's County Council of Parent-Teachers Association.
"If the teacher doesn't teach, the student doesn't learn," said Pagano, a real estate agent. Pagano said he pulled his daughter out of a Prince George's public school this winter when her class sand "about Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer instead of about Jesus Christ. Christ is who the holiday is all about. The school just has to have a more historical perspective," Pagano said.
Council member Casual questioned the candidates about proposals to create a school system with grades 1 through 8 in one school, 9 through 12 in another, eliminating the junior high school entirely. And while several said the school board should look "into it," others were opposed to this concept.
Dorman, who would not reveal the names the panel will recommend to the Breakfast Club until Monday, said the decision would "be a tough" one, "they are all qualified and put on impressive presentations."