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Board of Ed Race to Watch

Updated: Mar 29, 2020

Board of Education Candidates

Often times the Board of Education candidates are overlooked, according to Fred Gregg who's seeking election in District 3. He's up against incumbent, Monica Rinker, a three-year veteran, and 10-year veteran Tom Carr who's looking to return to the board. Gregg said that voters often lose interest in the educational system elections once they no longer have children in the system.

Gregg asked attendees at a candidate forum hosted by the Greater Grantsville Businesses Association to recognize the direct benefit to fostering strong community schools that support local businesses as well. He said how important these elections are because the decisions made by the Board of Education impacts everyone. “It affects us where we live, where we work, and where we shop.”

The three District 3 candidates along with District 2 candidate Nathan Sorber, presented at the Candidate Forum on June 30 at Penn Alps. Unable to attend was the unopposed incumbent Matthew Paugh for District 1, and challenger Rodney Glotfelty for District 2.

The nonpartisan board positions allow all voters, regardless of party affiliation, to select their two favorite candidates from each district to move on to the November ballot. Only one of those candidates making it through the June 26 Primary can be selected on the Fall ballot. With Paugh running unopposed, and only two candidates in District 2, the Primary will be important for District 3 where only two of the three candidates will be moving to the General Election.

Nathan Sorber opened the Board of Education candidate forum. He is a professor at WVU where he is in Specialized Education & Administration and Organizational Leadership. He was appointed to the Board roughly one and a half years ago by the current commissioners for which he expressed gratitude.

“I’m not a politician,” said Sorber. “I mostly answer to the title of Dad.” He is married and a proud father of two, a soccer coach in Grantsville, a Northern youth basketball coach, and he volunteers for the PTO. “I try to bring that perspective as a parent to all our meetings. I’m proud to do that for all the families of Garrett County.”

Sorber outlined accomplishments of the Board of Education during his tenure. He said they balanced two budgets and helped negotiate contracts with teachers and staff to make working conditions better. The Board helped preserve critical academic programs that earned Northern and Southern high schools bronze medals from US News and World Reports. He also advocated for vocational programs which he deemed critical for the county.

Sorber expressed the need to retain the arts, music, robotics, and sports programs that are important to students and communities where they attend school.

“What we didn’t do is close schools,” Sorber said. When he first joined the board, they were forced to address declining student populations and tight budgets. With four schools facing the chopping block, Sorber said the board began what he described as an open and transparent strategic planning process. He said, in that process, the board found savings across the budget by identifying areas where they could move funding to sustain core educational priorities. He also said their efforts were aided by greater state education investments.

Sorber noted that the population in the public schools has stabilized, and over the next six to eight years, significant growth could be seen in the elementary schools.

His board now has a $4 million surplus that could be used for short-term financial issues which he said was found through good financial stewardship.

He also expressed the importance of preserving existing schools and described them as important to the county’s communities.

“People will not move into this county and into our communities if they fear those schools will no longer be there,” said Sorber. “This is not only a moral imperative but our schools are essential to the economic vitality of Garrett County."

Tom Carr who is seeking election in District 3 is facing incumbent Monica Rinker and challenger Fred Gregg, a former Southern High School teacher.

Carr was drawn to Garrett County by his grandchildren he told attendees. “My roots are in the future,” said Carr. “I really feel the Garrett County Board of Education, in an effort to maintain its schools, needs to maintain its excellence and needs to maintain a presence downstate.” Carr feels being involved in the State Board of Education will help Garrett County stay ahead of state mandates and instructional changes.

Carr said that representation at the Maryland Association of Boards of Education, could help the local Board of Education learn and share best practices and how to be good board members. “Our board needs to be as concerned about its own education as it is about the education of our children.”

Carr shared his interest in working with Garrett County’s Delegate and Senator to be informed and testify in Annapolis to support legislation that would benefit the school syste