BOE Survey Larry Pretlow II – District 2
1. How long have you lived in Howard County? Which voting district would you represent?
I have lived in Howard County since 2014. I would be representing Councilmanic District 2 on the Board of Education.
2. What is your experience with and interest in public schools?
I am the son of an educator and a father of a current HCPSS student. I have been involved in the Stevens Forest Elementary School PTA so I could get an understanding of the resources that the school system needs. I ran for the school board because I’m tired of seeing my community left behind and would like to bring about change to ensure that more resources are being driven to the communities that need them such as the Oakland Mills and Long Reach communities in District 2 so that we can build them up.
3. Considering many schools are still overcapacity, how should the BOE address this continued concern?
The BOE should consider a variety of solutions such as building more schools, a level of redistricting which the community would be in agreement with and open enrollment options at schools with low capacity utilization. We are in a dire situation that we cannot redistrict out of due to a large shortage of seats. We need to ensure there is community input so that school construction and renovation projects are prioritized rather than “want to have” projects such as a cultural center.
4. How should the BOE ensure that resources reach the students who need them most?
I would like to involve the communities with the most need with the school system more. Right now these communities are not being listened to. The BOE is not making an effort to reach out to these communities with the highest number of students who need resources. The BOE did not even bother notifying the Hispanic community that their schools may be changing until after the decision was made. They only put out their notification of changes in English. We need to ensure that the BOE actively goes out to the communities with the highest concentration of poverty to hear from them what resources they need to ensure that they receive the best possible education. We should run town hall sessions in their communities so that they don’t have to be burdened to drive over to the Board of Education building over by Rt. 108. I was the former chair of the Community Together Outreach Committee on the Oakland Mills Village Board (OMCA) to increase community engagement from record low turnout levels.
5. What should the relationship between the BOE and the teachers’ union be?
The BOE and the teachers union should have a productive working relationship where we work together rather than against each other. One change I would like to bring to the BOE is to give teachers more frequent but smaller raises so that teachers can remain well compensated but also ensure that instructional programs are not cut heavily in certain years such as this one. We are all in this to ensure that our kids receive the best education possible and our teachers are treated with great respect. Teaching is an art.
6. What should be the approach to school safety? What is working and what could be done differently?
The approach of school safety should be to ensure that students feel welcomed and safe in their schools while intruders feel deterred. Some aspects of school safety that are working are locking doors and having parents sign in before going into the main building. One aspect that could be done differently is making sure to invest in more mental health programs and counselors so we can identify at-risk students to reduce the risk of violence in schools.