School board field cut to 2

Governor to be sent names of lawyer, parent

4 candidates were in running

Both have criticized some of Smith's ideas

May 05, 2004|By Laura Loh | Laura Loh,SUN STAFF

A Severna Park lawyer and an Annapolis parent were nominated last night from a field of four candidates vying to replace outgoing Anne Arundel County school board member and Vice President Anthony Spencer.

Attorney Michael G. Leahy and Pamela K. Bukowski, a mother of six and frequent school volunteer, garnered the most votes from more than 100 delegates who attended the county school board nominating convention at South River High School.

Now that the delegates -- representatives of residents associations, churches, parent groups and business associations -- have spoken, the convention committee will recommend Leahy and Bukowski to Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., who makes the appointment.

The governor can ignore the recommendations and appoint someone else to the at-large school board seat, which will be vacated June 30. Last year, Ehrlich filled a vacancy with Davidsonville parent Tricia Johnson, the candidate who received the second-most votes from a nominating convention.

In the past, governors have occasionally bypassed both nominees sent to them.

Leahy, who campaigned unsuccessfully for a school board seat last year, received 60 votes to Bukowski's 52 in a runoff that was held after none of the four contenders received a majority of 118 ballots cast half an hour earlier.

`Personally thrilled'

"I'm personally thrilled," Leahy said afterward. "I hope it's because what I said touched people in a way that they recognize I have an open mind."

Bukowski said she was pleased to be a step closer to a school board seat. She said she thinks delegates responded to her straightforward manner.

"It's a monumental undertaking," Bukowski said of the unpaid school board position. "The things I've said, I want to make sure I live up to them."

Leahy and Bukowski have criticized aspects of Superintendent Eric J. Smith's plan to increase academic performance in the 76,000-student school system and narrow an achievement gap between white and minority students.

Leahy, 49, who has two children in county schools, said he opposes Smith's implementation of uniform math and reading curricula in elementary schools because it is not sufficiently challenging for high-achieving pupils.

He also has said he wants to bring financial expertise to the school board from his work as a lawyer and former banker dealing with large financial transactions.

Bukowski, 53, has criticized Smith's decision to place middle and high schools on block schedules, and his initiative to boost the number of high school students taking Advanced Placement courses.

Regular volunteer

A regular volunteer at Annapolis High School and former speech pathologist, she said one of her main reasons for seeking the appointment is her perception that the school board is not responsive to parents' concerns.

Jacqueline Boone Allsup, a nursing professor at Anne Arundel Community College, and retired county teacher George Schmidt also sought to be nominated by the convention.

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