Progress is on the agenda for county school board

Profiles: A look at those who make public schools tick.

Education

September 26, 2004

Known for its diversity, the Baltimore County public school system is the nation's 23rd largest. It serves 109,000 children living in rural, urban and suburban neighborhoods.

This year, the school system has a budget of $1.07 billion.

As a whole, Baltimore County posts test scores on par with or higher than state averages. But within the county, great disparities in student performance exist. Scores are highest in the central, most affluent part of the county, but decline in some schools on the east and west sides.

The school system is taking several steps to eliminate those gaps in performance. They range from pairing middle school pupils with adult mentors to giving signing bonuses to teachers going to work in under-performing schools.

The system is also working to adapt to the rapid growth in northwest Baltimore County. It has built two new elementary schools and a new high school in that area in recent years. It is in the process of building another elementary school and another middle school.

The 12 members of Baltimore County's school board are appointed by the governor, and the board appoints the superintendent. Five of the 12, including this year's student member, were appointed last month. Here are profiles of the superintendent and board members:

Superintendent

Joe A. Hairston, superintendent of Baltimore County public schools and secretary-treasurer of the Board of Education, began his second four-year term in July at the head of the school system, which has 17,000 employees.

Shortly after his appointment, Hairston established the Blueprint for Progress to chart the progress of Baltimore County public schools.

That plan continues to drive school and student performance. The blueprint guided the design and development of the county's educational Master Plan, which will efforts through 2008.

Before coming to Baltimore County, Hairston worked for 25 years in Prince George's County public schools as a teacher, assistant principal, principal and assistant superintendent. He was superintendent for five years in Clayton County, Ga., a suburb of Atlanta.

A native of Chesapeake, Va., Hairston earned his bachelor's degree in biology and physical education from Maryland State University, now the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. He also earned a master's degree in administration and physical education from American University and a doctorate in education administration from Virginia Tech.

Board of Education

James R. Sasiadek, president, was appointed in August 1999; his term expires in June.

Sasiadek was elected president of the Board of Education in July last year. He was re-elected to a second yearlong term in July. He previously served two terms as vice president of the board.

His educational background includes degrees from St. Charles College, St. Mary's Seminary and University, and the Johns Hopkins University, where he graduated with honors.

He is the principal of Thomas Johnson Elementary in South Baltimore.

Thomas G. Grzymski, vice president, was appointed in July 2001; his term expires in June 2006.

He was elected board vice president in July.

Grzymski is a deputy associate commissioner in the Office of Systems at the Social Security Administration. He has been at the SSA since 1978.

He received his undergraduate degree from Loyola College and his master's from the Johns Hopkins University. He is a graduate of Kenwood High School.

Donald L. Arnold was appointed in October 1996; his term expires in June 2007.

Arnold has served four terms as president of the board.

He is the president of Commercial Capital Advisors LLC, an investment bank.

Arnold earned his undergraduate degrees at Rider University and York College, both in Pennsylvania, and has completed graduate studies at the Wharton School of Business and the Pennsylvania School of Banking at Bucknell University.

He is on the board of directors of the Maryland Association of Boards of Education and the National Federation of Urban Suburban School Districts.

Luis E. Borunda, an Essex resident, was appointed last month. His term expires in June 2009.

Borunda is president of The Signman Inc., a company specializing in promotional signage. He is the past president and a co-founder of the Baltimore Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Borunda was a commissioner on the Governor's Commission on Minority Business Reform. He is also a member of the President's Advisory Board for Villa Julie College.

He is founder and president of the U.S. Hispanic Youth Entrepreneur & Education Foundation, which educates high school children about the basics of entrepreneurship.

Borunda holds a bachelor's degree from New Mexico Highlands University.

Nicholas Camp, the board's student member for the 2004-2005 school year, is a senior at Catonsville High School, where he is president of the speech and debate team.

Camp was a 2003 participant in the U.S. Youth Senate Program and served on the school system's Southwest Area Advisory Council.

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