Board of Education bracing for change

Watson set to make political announcement

December 07, 2005|By JOHN-JOHN WILLIAMS IV | JOHN-JOHN WILLIAMS IV,SUN REPORTER

When Courtney Watson steps down as chairman of the Howard County Board of Education tomorrow night, it will be the first of many changes involving the panel that oversees Maryland's top-rated public school system.

There is a possibility that only one current member - Diane Mikulis - will be on the board when it expands from five to seven members next December.

Watson is scheduled to announce today her plans to run for a county government position next year when her current school board term ends. Her news conference was scheduled for the Elkridge Fire Hall, raising speculation she is likely to run for the District 1 County Council seat.

"I think to meet my goals of having the county have more responsible growth policies, I have decided to run for another position in county government," Watson said.

Mary Kay Sigaty, whose term expires in 2008, announced Monday that she will pursue a County Council seat. She plans to stay on the school board if she is not elected to the council.

Joshua Kaufman's term expires next year, and the 34-year-old plans to run for re-election. He is expected to be voted the board's next chairman tomorrow night.

Watson, who was elected to the board in 2002 and has served as chairman for two years, said Kaufman is ideal for the job.

"He's a quick study," Watson said. "He's shown a lot of leadership. On every issue he has impressed me with his ability to understand the issue, analyze it and make a fair decision on the information given."

Kaufman was chosen by County Executive James N. Robey to fill a vacancy on the board created by the resignation of elected board member Virginia Charles in the summer of 2003. He was confirmed as a board member Oct. 7, 2003, by a unanimous vote of the County Council, despite some concern about his lack of a background in local education.

Kaufman said the board's objectives next year will include hiring an internal auditor, addressing the new high school assessment tests and preparing for the board's expansion.

Watson said Kaufman will be busy. "The chair's job is very, very demanding. It's really 10 times more work," she said. "You are the spokesperson for the board and the liaison to the superintendent. It is very time-consuming."

Patricia Gordon, whose term expires next year, said she is not going to seek another stint as vice chairman. The former principal, who is 81, said she will evaluate her options over the holidays.

Mikulis is expected to fill the vice chairman position, Watson said.

The new chairman will take over tomorrow after the board's vote.

Howard school board

The Board of Education will increase from five to seven members next year, and some current members might not be back. Here is a look at their plans:

Patricia Gordon

Age:

81

Occupation:

retired elementary school principal.

Term expires:

2006

Future plans:

Unknown. Gordon will spend the holidays deciding her future with the school board.

Joshua Kaufman

Age:

34

Occupation:

democracy specialist at the U.S. Agency for International Development in Washington.

Term expires:

2006

Immediate plans:

To run for chairman of the board.

Future plans:

Kaufman has filed candidacy papers with the Howard County Board of Elections for the 2006 school board election.

Diane Mikulis

Age:

47

Occupation:

freelance writer.

Term expires:

2008

Immediate plans:

Mikulis is expected to run for vice chairman of the board.

Future plans:

To remain on the board and finish the remaining three years of her term.

Mary Kay Sigaty

Age:

55

Occupation:

freelance scenic artist for a theatrical company in Hanover.

Term expires:

2008

Future plans:

Sigaty plans to run for County Council next year. If elected, Sigaty will leave her post on the board.

Courtney Watson

Age:

43

Occupation:

vice president of sales for an insurance firm in Ellicott City.

Term expires:

2006

Future plans:

Watson will run for either County Council or county executive.

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