Howard County Board of Education Candidates Survey

The Education Action Team sent questionnaires to the candidates for the Howard County Board of Education. 
 
Congratulations to the eight candidates who will advance to the general election in November. Those who answered our survey include Bob Glascock, Jen Mallo, Robert Miller, Anita Pandey, Sabina Taj, and Chao Wu. Also advancing are two candidates who did not respond: Vicky Cutroneo and Danny Mackey. 
 
Four of the eight candidates will be elected to the Board of Education in November. We hope to hear more from all of them in the coming months.
 

Bob Glascock

  1. What do you feel is the most important issue facing HCPSS at the current time? What steps should the BOE take to address this issue?

The school system’s financial health is the most important issue facing the HCPSS at this current time.   The lack of stable resources limits the school to provide robust educational programming for all students and address equity issues. The current deficit is estimate to be $50M.

The health fund was not fully funded in the operating budget for several years. The HCPSS should examine all possible ways to stabilize the health fund and provide employees with quality health plans.  A task force should be created to bring together members of the community, county government, businesses, and non-profit organizations with school system staff and employee associations to study the problem and generate a short and long term plan to address employee health care.

Continue reading

Jen Mallo

  1. What do you feel is the most important issue facing HCPSS at the current time? What steps should the BOE take to address this issue?

I am deeply concerned that each of the past two budget cycles have been accompanied by increases to class sizes. I believe that stopping and reversing this trend must be a key priority for the upcoming Board. We know from research that the most effective means of delivering instruction are with small class sizes and deep student-teacher connections.  The Board can and should commit to reducing class sizes, potentially at the elementary level initially and working our way up to middle and high schools.  Staffing should be differentiated to reflect the specific needs of the community and the schools with an overall drawdown of student to teacher ratios.

In order to do this, we must stop treating each budget cycle as its own separate crisis. We need to develop a multi-year strategic plan to enable us to better align our budgeting priorities.

Continue reading

Robert W. Miller

 

1. What do you feel is the most important issue facing HCPSS at the current time? What steps should the BOE take to address this issue?

Many people probably feel that the most important issue facing HCPSS is how best to balance the budget. No doubt this is a very important issue, but about 85 percent of the operating budget pays for personnel and associated expenses, and the primary mission of our personnel involves student learning. Therefore, I feel that the most important of many important issues is how to best support student learning. The BOE can do much to address this challenge. Maximizing student learning time should be a priority, and changes regarding excessive standardized testing of students would be one step the Board could take; it could advocate for a reduction and restructuring of standardized testing at the state level as well as reduce or eliminate non-mandated testing and test preparation.

Continue reading

Anita Pandey

1. What do you feel is the most important issue facing HCPSS at the current time? 

The budget crisis.

What steps should the BOE take to address this issue? 

My top 3 priorities would help eliminate this issue while addressing other concerns.  They are as follows:

i. Addressing our budget  this crisis with the objective of reducing class size and enhancing learning outcomes for all students (e.g., by cutting the “fat” through a reduction in high procurements, actively seeking and securing community-based sponsorships and funded grants for technology and other expenditures, as well as for PD and World Languages; and implementing a value-added spending plan that adequately addresses the shortfall and expected increases in health and insurance)

 
 

Sabina Taj

1.    What do you feel is the most important issue facing HCPSS at the current time? What steps should the BOE take to address this issue?  

Insufficient funding for the educational system. Under the current model, the board is being presented with tough choices given the significant shortfall projected for the school budget. As someone who believes in fiscal responsibility and revenue-based budgeting, I fully support HCPSS balancing its budget. And as a member of the OBRC, I agree that there are savings to be had and we should explore these. However, I do not think we will find the savings we need to get to a balanced budget while still maintaining the high educational standards we expect of our public school system. As representatives of the public education system entrusted to give all Howard County students the best education possible, I believe we must strongly advocate for an increase in education spending at the county and state level. We should support candidates and leaders at the local, state, and national level who will prioritize investment in public education at a level that supports the needs of our children. Education is a core value of Howard County residents and a core driver of the economy. Let’s respect this value by allocating a higher percentage of our hard-earned tax dollars to the school system, to reduce overcrowding, increase opportunity, and make this the best public school system possible.

Continue reading

Chao Wu

1. What do you feel is the most important issue facing HCPSS at the current time? What steps should the BOE take to address this issue?  
The $50 million school deficit is a huge problem. It creates uncertainty for the staff, teachers, students and the community. HCPSS need work hard internally and externally.
Internally HCPSS needs to evaluate the funding progress such that illegal line item transfer which caused this $50 million dollar deficit in the last several years, should never happen again. We must bring accountability and transparency back to school. Externally HCPSS should work with the county council, county government, state government, teacher union and other stakeholders to find a long term plan to get rid of this deficit gradually. With the deficit hanging over the school budget and county budget, it is very difficult for program planning and to start any strategic initiative.