School board can­di­dates face off in pri­mary de­bate

Cecil Whig - - LOCAL - By JES­SICA IANNETTA

jian­netta@ce­cil­whig.com

— The three can­di­dates vy­ing for the Dis­trict 2 seat on the Board of Ed­u­ca­tion faced off in a de­bate for the first time on Tues­day night.

Erin Do­or­dan, Jim Fazz­ino and Ron Lo­bos are com­pet­ing to be among the top two vote-get­ters in the pri­mary elec­tion on April 26 and move on to the general elec­tion in Novem­ber. The three can­di­dates are com­pet­ing for the seat cur­rently held by Lau­ren Cam­phausen, who can’t run for re­elec­tion since she’s al­ready served two terms.

Run­ning as non-par­ti­sans in the pri­mary elec­tion, all three can­di­dates will com­pete on Repub­li­can and Demo­cratic bal­lots for the top two num­ber of votes. Those can­di­dates will then move on to the Novem­ber general elec­tion while the third place fin­isher is left out.

Do­or­dan, who has two chil­dren who at­tend Ce­cil County Pub­lic Schools, works for a Delaware com­pany that helps in­di­vid­u­als with dis­abil­i­ties find jobs. Fazz­ino, who also has two chil­dren in CCPS, has spent nearly 20 years as an ed­u­ca­tor and cur­rently works for Bal­ti­more County Pub­lic Schools. Lo­bos, whose son grad­u­ated from CCPS, is a real estate ap­praiser and a mem­ber of the Ce­cil County Pa­tri­ots, a con­ser­va­tive ad­vo­cacy group.

At Tues­day’s de­bate at Ce­cil Col­lege’s Mil­burn Stone Theatre, the three can­di­dates gave their thoughts on top­ics such as the school cur­ricu­lum, the school bud­get and how they would per­form their du­ties as school board mem­bers.

All three of the can­di­dates agreed that, in general, Ce­cil County Pub­lic Schools does a good job ed­u­cat­ing stu­dents and has many good pro­grams in place. But through­out the de­bate, the three of­fered their own thoughts on how the school sys­tem could im­prove.

Do­or­dan said the school sys­tem pro­vides a good ed­u­ca­tion and also men­tioned a re­cent trip she took to the North Bay Ad­ven­ture Camp with her son’s sixth-grade class. The trip was a great ex­pe­ri­ence for all the kids, she said, in­clud­ing many of

NORTH EAST

the stu­dents who had never been on a boat ride in the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay be­fore.

“That’s shock­ing, but it’s true be­cause we have such a di­verse com­mu­nity,” she said. “I will make sure that each stu­dent re­ceives a qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion here in this county.”

Fazz­ino agreed and said that though the schools pro­vide an ex­cel­lent ed­u­ca­tion, many stu­dents face ob­sta­cles when it comes to ac­cess­ing that ed­u­ca­tion.

“I do be­lieve that our chil­dren are re­ceiv­ing an ap­pro­pri­ate and ef­fec­tive ed­u­ca­tion, but I also rec­og­nize that there are bar­ri­ers,” he said. “I want to make sure we’re in­vest­ing ap­pro­pri­ate time and at­ten­tion to ar­eas to break down bar­ri­ers.”

For Lo­bos, his con­cern lies with the fu­ture of county schools un­der the Com­mon Core cur­ricu­lum. Lo­bos crit­i­cized Com­mon Core, say­ing that he op­poses a “one-size-fits-all” cur­ricu­lum and that it should be up to the in­di­vid­ual school sys­tems to de­cide what is taught in their class­rooms.

The can­di­dates did find com­mon ground when it came to the Ce­cil County School of Tech­nol­ogy. All three praised the new tech school and stressed the need for more tech­ni­cal ed­u­ca­tion in the school sys­tem.

The school bud­get was an­other fre­quent topic of con­ver­sa­tion dur­ing the de­bate. Lo­bos, a fre­quent critic of the school bud­get and of the state-man­dated main­te­nance of ef­fort laws, was asked how much the cur­rent school op­er­at­ing bud­get was and what per­cent of it comes from the fed­eral gov­ern­ment, the state gov­ern­ment and lo­cal gov­ern­ment.

Lo­bos replied that the cur­rent bud­get is around $192 mil­lion with about 43 per­cent com­ing from the county, 47 per­cent from the state and the re­main­ing 10 per­cent from the fed­eral gov­ern­ment. Fazz­ino and Do­or­dan were given the chance to chal­lenge Lo­bos’ num­bers but both de­clined to do so.

Kelly Kee­ton, a CCPS spokes­woman, said the sys­tem’s ap­proved op­er­at­ing bud­get is $188,411,080 and the cur­rent amended bud­get, which in­cludes items such as grants, is $190,735,930. Of the bud­get, 42 per­cent comes from the county, 53 per­cent comes from the state and 5 per­cent comes from the fed­eral gov­ern­ment.

Lo­bos also chal­lenged the trans­parency of the CCPS bud­get process through­out the de­bate, not­ing that ev­ery year the county gives CCPS more money and the fol­low­ing year the school sys­tem comes back and says it’s not enough.

“It’s got­ten to the point where many of the cit­i­zens in Ce­cil County feel that when it comes to a need for more money, the pub­lic schools are cry­ing wolf,” he said. “Now, if there’s only one thing I want you to re­mem­ber be­fore you leave here tonight, it’s how do you say wolf in Span­ish. Lo­bos, that’s right. Cry wolf, my friends.”

The de­bate also gave each of the can­di­dates a chance to out­line what they would do if elected to the school board.

If elected, Do­or­dan said she would be known as a col­lab­o­ra­tive per­son and an in­no­va­tive thinker and would ad­vo­cate for the school sys­tem on the na­tional, state and lo­cal level.

Lo­bos said he would visit all 29 county schools dur­ing his first year in of­fice and would also cre­ate an un­paid ad­vi­sory group of eight peo­ple from the com­mu­nity to give him feed­back and share their con­cerns.

Fazz­ino said he would em­brace his role as a Board of Ed­u­ca­tion mem­ber by be­ing ac­tive in the larger county com­mu­nity. He also stressed the need to get feed­back from teach­ers, ad­min­is­tra­tors, par­ents and stu­dents both in per­son and through so­cial me­dia.

“It’s im­por­tant to be a part of the school fab­ric,” he said. “You have to re­ally dig into the work and make sure that ev­ery child is re­ceiv­ing an ex­cep­tional ex­pe­ri­ence re­gard­less of their abil­i­ties or dis­abil­i­ties and re­gard­less of their cir­cum­stances.”

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY CH­ERYL MATTIX

Ron Lo­bos an­swers a ques­tion dur­ing the Board of Ed­u­ca­tion pri­mary de­bate as Jim Fazz­ino and Erin Do­or­dan look on.

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