5 men vying for 2 seats on county school board to meet public tonight

Panel to recommend nominees to governor

April 10, 2002|By Stephen Kiehl | Stephen Kiehl,SUN STAFF

The five candidates for the two open seats on the Anne Arundel County school board will introduce themselves to the public tonight and explain why they should be given a role in running the 75,000-student school system.

Several of the candidates have lengthy records of service in community groups, most have children in the school system and one served on the board before - as a student member.

They are vying for the seats on the eight-member board that will be vacated this summer by Vaughn L. Brown and Joseph H. Foster. Foster is completing his second five-year term and by law cannot be reappointed. Brown is finishing his first term; he decided against seeking a second.

For each open seat, the county's school board nominating convention will send two names to Gov. Parris N. Glendening. Although he can appoint whomever he wants, he traditionally chooses one of the nominees, usually in early July.

The candidates will participate in three public forums. The first is at 7 o'clock tonight at Lindale Middle School, 415 Andover Road in Linthicum.

The three candidates for Brown's at-large seat are:

Terry Gilleland Jr., 24, of Linthicum. Gilleland served as the student board member in 1994-95, when he was a senior at North County High School. He is now an account manager with Prometric, a Baltimore-based company that administers tests for professional certification and licensing. Gilleland also is chairman of the Anne Arundel County Republican State Central Committee.

He said the school system needs to raise standards and expectations for students, get parents more involved in schools and help teachers by removing impediments - such as the focus on standardized tests - that keep them from doing their job.

John A. Roberts, 51, of Arnold. A Washington attorney, Roberts has one daughter at Broadneck High School and another who is a recent graduate. He is chairman of the school's Community Advisory Committee.

He said the board needs to focus more on policy and not micromanage the superintendent and staff. A priority for him is reducing class sizes and making it easier for parents and students to bring concerns before the board.

Jim Snider, 43, of Severna Park. A fellow at the New America Foundation, a Washington think tank, Snider has three children in public schools. He served two terms on the elected school board in Burlington, Vt.

He wants to televise board meetings and make meeting agendas more accessible. "The Anne Arundel school board needs to democratize access to information so that the public can hold the school board and administration accountable for their actions," he said.

Two candidates are seeking Foster's District 32 seat, which includes parts of Jessup, Crofton, Laurel, Linthicum and Ferndale.

David Cope, 46, of Jessup. A retired Montgomery County firefighter, Cope has two children in county schools. He is president of the Jessup Providence Youth Organization and the Meade Recreation Feeder System, both youth athletic organizations.

Cope said the school system needs to give parents more information on services available to students with disabilities. He said that social promotion should be discouraged and that high schools should offer more intramural sports for students.

Eugene Peterson, 54, of Laurel. A supervisor for the Department of Transportation in Washington, Peterson has a daughter at Meade High School. He is the president of the county PTA.

Peterson said the school system needs to improve its programs in physical education and alternative education for children with emotional and behavior problems. He wants to use an expected windfall of state money approved in the recently ended General Assembly session to close the achievement gap for minority students.

At the forum, the candidates will make opening and closing statements and take questions from nominating convention delegates. The public is welcome but cannot ask questions.

The other forums will be April 18 at South River High School in Edgewater and April 23 at Chesapeake High School in Pasadena, both at 7 p.m.

About 140 nominating convention delegates will vote May 1 on which names to forward to the governor.

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