Sigaty's election to County Council leads to buzz on school board post

EDUCATION NOTEBOOK

November 12, 2006|By John-John Williams IV

The aftershocks of Mary Kay Sigaty's victory in the Howard County Council election already are being felt in the school system as she prepares to vacate her seat on the Board of Education.

Sigaty, whose term expires in 2008, will leave the board this month now that she has won the District 4 County Council seat. Her position will be filled by an appointment from Ken Ulman, the newly elected county executive.

The education community is buzzing over Ulman's looming decision.

One person who said he is not interested in the appointment is current board Chairman Joshua Kaufman.

Kaufman was a surprise loser Tuesday, finishing seventh.

The top five finishers will fill the board's open seats.

"I don't think I would accept an appointment, regardless of who the county executive is," said Kaufman, who was named to the board in 2003 and elected chairman by board members last year. "I just stood for election as an incumbent, and I respect the outcome of the election."

Kaufman attributed his loss to a lack of name recognition, not his perceived alliance with Republican Christopher J. Merdon, an unsuccessful county executive candidate. He joined Merdon in proposing an ambitious - and expensive - school technology plan.

Kaufman said he will continue to work in the school system.

"I've always been very involved in the community. That is not going to change," he said. "I just don't know what [I will do] at this point. I do not doubt that I will stay involved."

Board hopeful

While Kaufman has backed away from a possible appointment, Donald Marston Jr. has his eyes on Sigaty's seat and on future attempts at joining the school board.

Marston, 39, a school board candidate who did not advance past the primary, was visible in Howard County the night of the general election.

The golf course clubhouse manager at Caves Valley Golf Club made an appearance at Merdon's headquarters in Ellicott City, where he said he was also planning to make stops at Kahler Hall in Columbia, where Democratic candidates awaited results, and Ten Oaks Ballroom in Clarksville, the site for Republican candidates.

Asked if he was interested in a school board appointment, he responded: "Possibly."

He acknowledged that it would be a difficult task.

"There are other candidates that are ahead of me," he said.

If he is not appointed to Sigaty's seat, Marston said he is considering a future campaign for a board position.

"I would give it a try," he said. "One of the points was to get my name out there. You've got to do that."

Lost election bid

Robin Shell, Howard County's first school ombudsman, failed in her election bid to serve as a member of the Prince George's County school board, losing to Rosalind Johnson, a retired Prince George's teacher.

Shell, 44, a mother of four children who attended Prince George's County schools, ran because she said she has a vested interest in the system. She said it was too early to decide whether she would run again.

"That's way too far for me to plan," Shell said. "That is a four-year plan."

Some in Howard County initially questioned whether it was legal for Shell to work as an ombudsman and hold office in Prince George's County.

Howard County school system lawyer Mark Blom said Shell was well within her rights to do both.

Cousin back at work

He might be in occasional pain, but he is back none the less.

Superintendent Sydney L. Cousin completed his second week of work in the school system since he fractured a vertebra Oct. 7, in a single-car accident in Marriottsville.

The injury, which will take six weeks to heal, kept Cousin out of work for two weeks. He still wears a back brace.

At Thursday's board meeting, Cousin said that longer days tend to aggravate his back more than usual.

"I have good days and bad days," Cousin said, as he walked around in an attempt to stretch his back.

john-john.williams@baltsun

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