Howard County school board

Big field: Breadth of experience, `big picture' knowledge, ideas among critical critera for voters.

March 03, 2000

Howard County schools rank among Maryland's best every year. Economic development and the general quality of life in Howard are good as a direct result. Yet, test scores fell a bit last year. And too many kids perform poorly and fall through the cracks.

So it's important to build a school board that brings perspective and strong leadership skills to bear on dozens of nettling and complicated problems.

What is equity in school funding and how does the board create it? How can strong teachers be persuaded to stay in under-performing or older schools?

On Tuesday, Howard County voters will be asked to pick four from a dizzying field of 17 contenders to advance to the general election in November. In the fall, two will be selected to fill vacant board seats.

Far more than four candidates offer strong credentials. All want to help children -- and a few have a working knowledge of how this and other boards have attempted to do that.

The Sun recommends the following candidates:

Jerry D. Johnston has demonstrated his devotion to Howard schools by attending virtually every school board meeting since he was defeated in the last election.

He has been following board budget deliberations and grappling with problems of overcrowding among others.

Kathleen Sinkinson, who served as chairman of County Leadership Committee, and June Cofield, a member of the Citizens Advisory Council to the board, demonstrate remarkable "big picture" grasp of school board history, political realities and regulatory issues.

Michelle Williams, a member of the county's PTA council and of the county council's Committee on Equity, also impresses.

Stephen C. Bounds, a lawyer, acknowledged board leader and the single incumbent seeking another term, seems like a strong candidate. But he is a finalist for the post of school superintendent in Lansing, Mich., and will not be available to serve out his current term if he gets that job.

Others who merit serious consideration -- if not The Sun's endorsement -- include Kristine Lockwood, a Howard County teacher; Melody Higgins, a nurse at Johns Hopkins Hospital; and Virginia Charles, a former teacher and 30-hour-a-week volunteer at Long Reach High School.

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