It may be like running into a burning building, as one applicant said, but those who want the job of city school board member say they wouldn't have it any other way.
After extending deadlines for a month to encourage more people to apply, officials at the State Department of Education have selected nine candidates to be considered for four seats on the Baltimore school board.
For many, the unpaid post would seem unattractive. Board responsibilities take lots of time and the board gets lots of criticism, blamed by many for the recent financial crisis and considered organization non grata by parents, politicians and the public.
What better time to step up to help, said school board candidate George M. VanHook Sr., than when the school system needs the help the most?
"I believe that when the house is burning down and your children are inside the house, you have no other choice than to go inside the burning building," VanHook said. "My commitment is to rescue the children."
The nine names have been forwarded to Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and Mayor Martin O'Malley, who will jointly fill the seats, opening this month.
The applicants who made it through the state's screening process are educators, parents, business leaders and former politicians.
Leslie M. Redd, associate director of development at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins. Redd, who has two children in the city school system, is president of the Parent Advisory Council at Montebello Elementary School.
James W. Campbell, former chairman of the education subcommittee of the Maryland House Ways and Means Committee. Campbell is school and community outreach coordinator at the Johns Hopkins University's Graduate Division of Education.
Kalman R. Hettleman, a former city school board member, who has served as state secretary of human resources and Baltimore City director of social services. Hettleman also was executive director of RAISE Inc. - a project intended to help lower the city's dropout rate - and serves as an education consultant to city schools.
Douglas R. Kington, founder of Kington Commercial LLC, a Baltimore-based commercial real estate brokerage firm. Kington has a long history of managing large business operations and serves on the board of directors of the Garwyn Oaks Community Association.
Carolyn D. Wainwright, administrative supervisor for the Community Services Unit of the Montgomery County Department of Park and Planning. Wainwright is a lifelong city resident and is - with her husband - raising three grandchildren enrolled at John Eager Howard Elementary and Mount Royal Middle schools.
George M. VanHook Sr., a Family Investment Work Program coordinator for the Department of Human Resources. VanHook, a father of three public school children, is a member of the school system's Parent Community Advisory Board, vice president of the Roland Park Elementary/Middle School PTA and representative on the Baltimore Council of PTAs.
Judson Porter, information technology business manager for the Baltimore County public school system. Porter was chief financial officer for the city school system from 1980 to 1994. In 1997, he was named the system's internal auditor. He retired in 2001. Porter's two children graduated from city schools.
Jerrelle F. Francois, an education consultant for Sylvan Education Solutions. Francois has been a teacher, assistant principal, principal and an assistant superintendent for the city school system. She also has served on the faculties at Morgan State University and Coppin State University.
Anne S. Perkins, an attorney currently working as a special master with U.S. District Court Judge Marvin J. Garbis. Perkins spent 14 years in the House of Delegates, serving as co-chairwoman of the Baltimore City delegation's Subcommittee on Education. She is a board member of Maryland Institute College of Art and Bryn Mawr School.
Perkins and others said the heat the board has taken recently was not a deterrent.
"I think anybody who has a feeling about the future of Baltimore and [about] where are the important places to put your energies would say that the school system is certainly a place to do that," Perkins said. "I don't really look at it as a particularly tough time. All institutions go through good times and bad times."