MONTGOMERY COUNTY'S Board of Education ballots next Tuesday may look a bit like reruns from last month's primaries because two of the four school board contests are runoffs. The other two races are for open seats. Although certain members of the board must live in certain districts, all county voters choose at-large and district candidates.
In the lone at-large contest, Henry Lee offers an informed independence that could strengthen the board's oversight in constructive ways. Mr. Lee, with considerable parent-teacher association experience, a wife who is a teacher and three children in the public schools, has a solid understanding of diversity issues that could prove valuable as the board continues its assessments of Superintendent Jerry D. Weast's proposals. Opponent Charles Haughey, who lost a board race two years ago, also has extensive education credentials. He is a former teacher whose wife has worked as a teacher and administrator in the county school system, and their two daughters attended Montgomery public schools. In this campaign more than in his last, Mr. Haughey has been citing a need to question the superintendent more often. But Mr. Lee's breadth of community concerns and independence from strong union ties are appealing assets.
In the District 1 contest, Gabe Romero, who has been active in the local and county PTAs and has two daughters attending middle school, is a native of Colombia with close ties to parents of Hispanic students in the system. His knowledge of the schools, coupled with his interest in involving these parents, could prove valuable.
In the District 3 contest, incumbent Patricia O'Neill, who handily topped challenger Kevin Schuyler in the primary round, is a proven vote-getter whose accessibility and knowledge of the system's inner workings have stood her in good stead. Mr. Schuyler, who moved to the county two years ago, cites a need to hold the superintendent and staff more accountable, through more sophisticated measuring. But Ms. O'Neill believes the board has been sharpening its oversight and is not rubber-stamping Mr. Weast's agenda. Mr. Schuyler's immersion in school system doings has produced some findings worthy of attention by the board, but he has not made a compelling case for Ms. O'Neill's ouster.
In the District 5 contest, Reginald M. Felton, who is seeking a third term, is challenged by Robyn Anne Traywick, a registered nurse who has been active in various special education organizations during her four years in the county. She has three children in county public schools, one of whom has Down syndrome. Her interest in -- and criticism of -- the school administration is not limited to special education. Ms. Traywick believes that the entire system needs tighter management and more public involvement. Her concerns ought not be ignored, but Mr. Felton's expertise ought not be lost.