- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Q Superintendent Michael Martiranoís contract ends this school year after serving two four-year terms. Would you vote to offer him a new contract, or would you look for a new superintendent?
Washington: That is up to him. According to the law, in February he is to let us know whether he wants to extend his contract. I would be willing to offer him another four-year contract.
Q Which of the initiatives to serve student academic needs put in place in recent years has been most successful? Which has not?
Washington: Most of them are successful, especially our career paths. One size does not fit all. We have the Academy of Finance at Chopticon High, we have Global and International Studies at Leonardtown High, we have STEM academies at elementary, middle and high school, thereís the Fairlead Academy, charter school, the Forest [career and technology] center, so we are offering students opportunities. All of them have been successful. When we find out a program is not successful, we change. The White Oak Center on Great Mills Road. We saw that wasnít working, so we made a change. That didnít give us the results we anticipated so we made a change, and now it is the Fairlead Academy, which is highly successful.
Q Has the board of education effectively made the case to the county commissioners for adequate funding for the schools?
Washington: I think we have made adequate progress, but I think we can do better in putting forth our needs. We need to get more parents involved to come out and speak on behalf of the needs of the system ... through any means necessary. It would be good if we could get more students to come [to budget hearings].
We answer any questions [commissioners] submit to bring about understanding. Weíre working with them. Itís a new board of county commissioners and there is a learning curve with any new job you have. We need them to visit more schools and programs so that they can see that the tax payersí money is being put to good use, to see the success. We let them know that we are being effective and efficient with the resources that they have given us.
Q What issues should be included in diversity training for students and staff?
Washington: Diversity covers many issues, not only race, gender, religion, socioeconomic status, even size, hair color, there are so many things diversity training should cover. These are some of the issues that we have to deal with. It has to be age appropriate for the students so they can understand it.
And thatís part of our character education program, which is a step up from our character education. We live in a diverse world and our students, in order for them to thrive, they have to be respectful and accepting of all people. Even though we are different, we are all alike. And most people want the same things, they want to be happy and they want to be respected and included.
Q Do you think the school board participates in enough public discussion on issues before making decisions?
Washington: There are several ways that parents can give their input before we make our decisions: they can email, they can speak to a board of education member, they can call me at home, the superintendent is very open, his email address is out there. And before we have a public hearing on policies [we accept public comments]. There are different ways to get input on action usually before we take it. We want public input.
[The shift of temporary workers to contract workers] is major and we were only two or three weeks from school. That was very troubling to me. I had to scramble at the last minute to get answers before the board meeting. It was not handled sensitively to the employees. This is one of the times that it happened in my 16 years on the board. Usually something like that does not happen.