Seven Carroll County residents are vying for positions on the board of education. The candidates shared views and information about themselves on www.vote411.org. Visit the website to see more detailed candidate profiles.
Don Hoffman, Sykesville
Qualifications: I am a 37 veteran school librarian with the Baltimore City Public School System. I have worked as a substitute teacher at several Carroll County public high schools.
Priorities: It is important that the school system get back to a 'back to basics' curriculum. The most important issue facing Carroll County Public Schools is that too much is being demanded of the public school system. Too many special interest groups are attempting to get their agenda’s promoted in the public school system to the neglect of reading, writing, math and American history.
Krista Kniesler, Westminster
Qualifications: Mother of four children. Volunteer activities: tutor, fund raiser, classroom helper, Girl Scout leader, 4-H team mom, Rel.Ed teacher. Education: B.S. International Trade & Finance from LSU 1983. Careers in federal government and private sector. Past Board of Directors, DFHOA.
Priorities: BOE must use its oversight ensuring staff is well trained and best qualified so children can read and retain basic math facts by 3rd grade. This foundation allows mastery of complex ideas. Students with challenges will be nurtured with needs met. Students entering work force should have the opportunity to learn vocational skills. Students going to college must not need remedial math or English.
Cynthia Foley, Westminster
Qualifications: I have been involved in Carroll County Public School for 23 years. I have been a CCPS Board member for 7 1/2 years. During that time, I have served as President and Vice President of the board. I sat on numerous school system committees and participated in board member professional development. I have four children who excelled in Carroll County Public Schools and went on to college.
Priorities: The teachers' pensions, an amount in excess of $7 million, could be shifted back to the county. I have dealt with cuts of $16.5 million from the budget over 4 years. Our school system would have to make great sacrifices should this additional cost be added to the budget. We need to collaborate with the Commissioners and Superintendent to ensure that we continue to provide an outstanding education.
Matthew Kaliscak, Westminster
Qualifications: I am qualified for this office through my personal experiences as a CCPS student and knowledge of the school system.
Priorities: I will be honest and say there are many issues this board needs to put in the form of a list and work on but my top few are that we have to work on creating merit-based pay for full time teachers, lead talks over what is to become of a pension system and find a healthy means to lower class sizes and become more sustainable as a local government institution.
Jennifer Seidel, Mount Airy
Qualifications: I was elected to the Board of Education in 2008. As a teacher and a parent, I bring different perspectives to the table. I hold a B.S. in Elementary and Kindergarten Education, and an M.Ed. in School Administration and Supervision. I have worked in education for 18 years as a teacher, a central office staffer, and an independent contractor writing/editing educational materials.
Priorities: My term has been marked by tough economic times. We've made drastic reductions without sacrificing the quality of education. If re-elected, I pledge to continue to prioritize when spending hard-earned taxpayer dollars. Also, in the midst of mandated changes to curriculum/accountability measures, we must stay focused on what is important so that OUR students are college and career ready.
Jim Doolan, Westminster
Qualifications: I hold a Master’s Degree in Education and spent 33 years with Carroll County Schools as a teacher, Pupil Personnel Worker, Director of Transportation and Superintendent’s cabinet member. As such, I conducted hours of teacher/staff development and was appointed by 3 governors to task forces on student issues. I managed a $20 million budget and was known as a student/family advocate.
Priorities: "Race to the Top” is an unfunded, mandate to be implemented by 2015. It will cost time, energy and money. I would support appropriate, adequate training of the new core curriculum before it is implemented. The law requires that 50% of a teacher’s evaluation be based on student performance. It is not possible to have an evaluation that is equitable as not all well taught students perform well.
Ginger DiMaggio, Finksburg
Qualifications: I majored in Education in College. I have been teaching regularly for over 14 years in a combination of home school and private settings.
Priorities: The issues I would most like to address are spending, curriculum and safe environment. According to Carroll Community College (CCC), 50 percent of CCPS graduates go to CCC after graduation and over 70 percent of those students need remedial math and/or reading. This must be addressed.
Our school environment must be safe. Our students need to be able to go to school without fear of being bullied.
Since the Board of Education meets with local legislators to address educational law that impacts all students in the state, and makes other decisions impacting all students in the county, I believe it is imperative that at least one member of the board be a voice for all students, including those in private school and homeschoolers.