Shepherdstown resident Alan Sturm has filed to run for one of the three open seats on the Jefferson County Board of Education in May 13, primary election. He previously served two terms on the Board, having been elected in 2004 and 2008. He did not run for reelection in the 2010 election citing family concerns as the reason. Mr. Sturm said the family issues have been resolved, and there are a number of reasons why he has decided to run again. "First, with the resources available, both financial and cultural, there is no reason that I can see why Jefferson is not the premier school system in the state, but it isn't. Instruction is the key everything else that happens in a school system. We must continue to recruit and retain the highly qualified teachers. We need to develop a county wide plan to assure that every school in the county meets the state established target scores. I personally believe that too much emphasis is placed on testing, but that is the name of the game currently and we must play it well."
"Second, we live in a society with finite resources and infinite needs. I think that the Board of Education needs to work to reestablish regular meetings with the county commission and to look for possible areas of cooperation. A new relationship should also be developed with Jefferson County Parks and Recreation so that a positive working climate is established and unnecessary duplication of facilities can be avoided in the future." Sturm also addressed the physical needs of the facilities in the county. "We must make sure that we are spending our capital dollars wisely. A current county wide plan needs to be developed, in addition to the mandated 10 year plan, which will develop realistic planning and scheduling to meet the needs of our older buildings, whether that involves renovation or replacement."
"Third, two years ago the organization and structure of the county's middle schools were changed. The reasons for the change were primarily financial. This change directly impacted about a fourth of our students. The system needs to undertake a study to determine if the change is working and to make sure that our middle schools are organized in a way that ensures best practices and are in place."
Sturm began his career in education as a teacher at Middletown High School in neighboring Frederick County, Maryland. He was also an elementary teacher in Charles County. The bulk of his career was spent in Upshur County, West Virginia, where he served as a classroom teacher, principal, curriculum director, and assistant superintendent. Additionally he served for seven years as a member of the West Virginia Instruction Materials Committee. He has also served on the Boards of RESA VIII, James Rumsey, Head Start, and the Shepherdstown Day Care Center. He earned a BA from West Virginia Wesleyan College, an MA from West Virginia University. He lives in Heatherfield, just outside of Shepherdstown, with his wife Libby.
He is a board member of the Western Maryland Interpretive Association at Antietam National Battlefield. The Sturms have two adult sons and six grandchildren.
"Schools exist for only one purpose, to provide the best possible education for the students who attend. "The problems facing Jefferson County Schools should not be allowed to distract from that reason. Academics and excellent instruction must remain the first priority. The public has the right to demand the best from our schools, and the system must remain accountable," Sturm commented.