The four candidates for the contested seats on the Calvert County Board of Education differ sharply on issues including prayer in school, banning books from reading lists, raising taxes and increasing school funding.
Incumbent Robert L. Gray, 49, is unopposed in District 2.
In District 1, Jeffrey D. Borgholthaus and Frank Theodore Parish hold almost opposite views on a number of sensitive social and classroom issues.
Borgholthaus, 47, of Lusby said the school system should ban books such as "The Catcher in the Rye" and "Lord of the Flies" because they are profane or unnecessarily pessimistic.
"When I finished reading 'Lord of the Flies,' I just felt discouraged and depressed," said Borgholthaus, a senior cryptologic engineer at the Defense Department and former chairman of the school system's citizen advisory committee. "Why do we need to feed kids garbage like that?"
Parish, 75, of Dowell called his opponent's proposal "extreme censorship." He said Borgholthaus would ignore the separation of church and state in the public schools.
"He is going to do everything he can to subvert the law and the will of the people to insert his feelings into the arena," said Parish, a retired Sarasota, Fla., public school employee who works as a tractor-trailer driver.
Borgholthaus, whose campaign platform says he would "require a modern curriculum that promotes traditional values," has said he supports teaching evolution in a way that leaves open the possibility of creationism. He also supports organized prayer at school ceremonies and moments of silence for prayer in the classroom.
"Do I want to get prayer back in school? Yes," said Borgholthaus, who has three children in the public schools. "I don't see why we should excise that from our schools."
Parish opposes the teaching of creationism in schools and said officially sanctioned prayer has no place in the classroom. He also said the school system should teach birth control and contraception during sex education. Borgholthaus said those subjects are not appropriate for school.
The two candidates agree on the need for increased funding for education. Borgholthaus said the Board of Education should develop a five-year budget that calls for about $6 million in new money each year from the county commissioners. Parent said even more funding might be needed.
In District 3, two-term incumbent Mary Garvey is running against James Louis Parent, who retired last year as the Calvert Career Center principal.
Garvey, 51, of Owings said the county commissioners need to provide more money for education. But Parent said he is not convinced that the Board of Education needs more money.
Parent, 64, of Chesapeake Beach said the school system devotes too many resources to its bureaucracy. He supports moving professional administrative support staff members from the school board's headquarters into classroom teaching positions.
He also said the school board is too reliant on the county commissioners for funds and proposed a new way for the board to raise money.
"I think that the board should have the right to tax," Parent said. "Then the board can't blame the commissioners" for not having enough money.