School board chairman won't seek re-election

June 12, 1994|By Lan Nguyen | Lan Nguyen,Sun Staff Writer

Citing a desire to concentrate on his family life, Howard County school board chairman Dana Hanna has decided not seek another term in this fall's nonpartisan election.

The 41-year-old Ellicott City resident, who presided over a board that wrestled with budget cuts and a tumultuous redistricting process, said Friday that he wants to spend more time with his wife and three children.

"My wife is looking forward to welcoming a husband back into the house," he said jokingly. "My kids are much like kids anywhere. I'm not sure they really care one way or the other."

His oldest daughter, Mary, graduated from Centennial High School this year. He has a son, Dana Jr., at Dunloggin Middle School and a daughter, Virginia, at Thunder Hill Elementary School.

"I think I'm going to need the next few years to devote to my family," he said. "The time commitment [required by the school board] has been a distraction.

"I leave it regretfully. I would like to stay on. I enjoy it."

Mr. Hanna, who works full time as general manager of Custom Care Carpets in Owings Mill, was elected to the board in 1988, after having lived in the county "a whopping year and a half," he said.

He served as chairman during the 1993-94 school year and during the highly charged high school redistricting battle the previous year. He also was a member when the school system saw its budget cut by $11 million over a three-year period starting in 1991.

Mr. Hanna moved here from Baltimore County in 1986, believing that Howard's school system would be better for his children. He was spurred to run for the school board because of the redistricting process that shifted his children from Northfield Elementary to Thunder Hill Elementary.

"Coming from a county where redistricting was something that was rarely heard of, it really came as a surprise," he said. "You move somewhere, you think you're going to a neighborhood school, and you find yourself in a growing county where things are growing too quickly to develop a permanent community school concept."

He noted that the recent redistricting process was particularly fractious.

"The most nasty, self-inflicted wound the school system commits each year is redistricting," he said. "I say that knowing full well it's unavoidable, but it's the only thing that creates the most ongoing ill will toward the school system."

While Mr. Hanna is stepping away from school board life, he intends to stay in public service. He talks about running for a public government office but is noncommittal.

"I don't think my departure is permanent," he says. "I plan on staying in the public arena. One never knows where the path shall lead."

Lynn Benton, Howard County PTA Council president, was surprised that Mr. Hanna is stepping down. "We appreciate the six years that he served on the board," she said. "Some of the last six years have been difficult years for school board members."

James Swab, Howard County Education Association president, said Mr. Hanna was someone who was open to listening to the teachers union's concerns.

"I think one of his greatest assets is his willingness to listen to the association's viewpoint, as we represent the school employees," Mr. Swab said. "In most areas he has had an open mind, and the association wishes him well in his future endeavors."

Mr. Hanna said he will always remember the many people with whom he came in contact as a school board member.

"I'd like to say thank you to the many people who along the six years took the time to express their appreciation for the [job] the Howard County school system . . . does," he said. "They have been a constant encouragement, despite some negative moments."

School board members get a $6,000 yearly stipend and serve six-year terms. School board member Deborah Kendig, who has served two terms, also has decided not to seek re-election. With her and Mr. Hanna's departure, Vice Chairwoman Susan Cook would likely become the next head of the school board. Her term ends in 1996.

Members Linda Johnston and Sandra French were elected two zTC years ago.

Four candidates have announced their bids for the two positions being vacated: Elkridge resident Jamie Kendrick, a 1993 Howard High School graduate and University of Maryland College Park student; Lisbon resident Stephen Bounds, a lawyer who works in Ellicott City; West Friendship veterinarian Karen Campbell, a former school board member; and Columbia resident Delroy Cornick, a retired Morgan State University professor.

The deadline for candidates to file for the election is July 5.

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