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From the Desk of Board of Education Candidate Earl Wahlquist

I have lived in Frederick County for more than 40 years. During that time, my wife and I raised five children who all attended Frederick County schools. For two years, I served as Vice-President and then President of the local elementary school where they attended. I have served in many leadership roles in a local church congregation. I retired in 2006 after serving as a senior executive for the federal government.

Employment Background: For 43 years, I worked for the U.S. Department of Energy or its predecessor agencies. During the earlier years, I worked in a variety of different positions including nuclear engineer, budget analyst, budget office director, project control specialist, and resource management director. For the last 25 years, I directed technology and development programs. Two of the programs involved support to three federal agencies and involved more than $100 million per year in operating funds. The programs also required construction and capital equipment funds. As the director of these programs, I decided where various parts of the work would be performed (universities, contractors or national laboratories). I decided how much funding would be applied to each program and monitored and reviewed the work to assure programs goals were met within the allocated cost. Over the course of these efforts, I was asked to serve on government and Congressionally-mandated panels to establish program priorities and long-term goals for the nationís space nuclear power programs.

Background supports the qualifications needed to serve on the Board of Education: My professional and personal background provide the type of experience that should enable me to effectively serve on the Board of Education. I have a clear understanding of how large budgets are developed and implemented. I have broad experience in reviewing and monitoring diverse program efforts. My work on government panels has demonstrated that I can work in a group environment to help forge consensus on complex and diverse issues. These are the types of efforts that the next board will face. The board must review and approve the school system budget. They must review and monitor the various curriculum issues that arise and they must try to forge a consensus among the board.

Campaign is focusing on four major issues: First, the next board must place major emphasis on controlling costs. To do this, the board must streamline administrative functions and staff and reevaluate the support and advisory functions. They should also review the salary and benefit structures of both the administrators and the teachers. In reviewing all expenditures, the board must set priorities so that higher priority efforts can be supported while lower priority efforts are reduced or eliminated. Second, it is important that the Board of Education and the County Commissioners develop a cooperative rather than an adversarial relationship. Third, the board should expand and emphasize efforts to monitor and review the effectiveness of teachers and instructional programs. TERC elementary math is a prime example of a program that should have received a more critical review. Fourth, I believe that additional charter schools should be encouraged where financial and instructional capability is demonstrated and where adequate oversight is maintained.

Views concerning the role of the Board of Education: The primary function of the Board of Education is to assure that all students get the best education possible for the minimum cost. Students are their most important constituency. However, in trying to meet the need of the students, the Board must be responsive to the voters who elected them. They also must work with the studentsí parents who have primary responsibility for their childrenís welfare and with the administrators and employees of the school system that are charged with providing the education of the students. When properly focused, the Board and these three groups should not be in conflict but should work together for the good of the students and the community as a whole.

Issues with past board actions: I believe that the new administration building should not have been built with operating funds. If a priority, it should have competed in the capital improvement budget. I also believe that the board should have set aside the recent windfall in the health insurance program as a hedge against future costs rather than as a rebate back to employees.

Read position papers of other candidates running in the 2010 primary