4 new members of city school board are chosen by Ehrlich and O'Malley

Appointees are labeled `a victory for parents'

August 26, 2004|By Liz Bowie | Liz Bowie,SUN STAFF

The greatest shake-up in Baltimore's school board in seven years will take place next week when four new members are sworn in.

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and Mayor Martin O'Malley announced yesterday the joint appointment of George VanHook, Jerrelle Francois, Douglas R. Kington and James W. Campbell.

The turnover of nearly half of the nine-member board was not the result of pressure to get rid of the existing school board after the system's financial troubles, but merely coincidence.

Two departing board members, Ralph S. Tyler and Sam Stringfield, have taken new jobs that preclude them from continuing on the board. Tyler became city solicitor and Stringfield, an education researcher at the Johns Hopkins University, is moving out of state.

A third board member, Dorothy Siegel, has served for the maximum seven years, and a fourth, Camay Murphy, decided not to apply for another term.

Three of the four new members have experience in education, while the fourth has business expertise.

"We are excited. This is a victory for parents," said Larry Gaines, a parent advocate. "We want to say thank you to the mayor and the governor."

Gaines is one of a growing number of parent advocates who have felt left out of the city school decision-making process.

VanHook, Gaines said, has been a good representative of parent concerns for many years. A parent of two sons in city schools, VanHook is a member of the Baltimore Council of PTAs and the Parent and Community Advisory Committee.

Francois, an education consultant for Sylvan Education Solutions, has a 34-year history with the system as a teacher, principal and assistant superintendent.

Campbell served in the Maryland House of Delegates and is a former chairman of the education subcommittee of the Ways and Means Committee. He is school and community outreach coordinator at the Johns Hopkins University graduate Division of Education.

"He has been very sensitive to the needs of parents. I think he will do a good job," Gaines said of Campbell.

Kington founded Kington Commercial, a Baltimore commercial real estate brokerage firm. He also was employed at United States Fidelity & Guaranty Co., where he managed the real estate department.

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