The filing deadline for the Howard County school board elections is more than a month away, but Chairman Diane Mikulis has made up her mind and will not run for re-election.
Mikulis, who has served on the board since 2004, said she wanted to spend more time with her family when she announced her intentions at Thursday's board meeting.
"I can't do it four more years," Mikulis said after the meeting.
Mikulis said she has been mulling over the decision for the past year and a half.
"It really hit me last June when my son went off to college," she said. "I would love to visit my child far more."
Mikulis, who has two children -- ages 14 and 10 -- attending Howard County schools, added, "I'm going to get my life back. I'm going to get my family, house in order."
Three seats will be up for grabs in the 2008 election because the terms of Janet Siddiqui and Ellen Flynn Giles expire next year.
Siddiqui was appointed to the board in January by County Executive Ken Ulman. She filed candidacy papers Sept. 14.
Giles finished fifth in the 2006 election, and because of a provision established that year the fifth-place vote-getter received a two-year term instead of the standard four-year term. The provision was established so that no more than four seats would be up for election in any one year.
Giles said last week that she would run for re-election, but has not filed the paperwork.
Siddiqui is in the midst of campaigning.
She held a fundraiser Wednesday at her Clarksville home. Thirty-five people attended the affair, which was hosted by state Sen. James N. Robey.
"I talked about how I am enjoying my experience on the board," Siddiqui said.
School board candidates have until Dec. 3 to file. Seven candidates must file to force a Feb. 12 primary election. If a primary race is held, the top six finishers will advance to the general election Nov. 4 next year.
Mikulis said that she will not change her mind, although she has not ruled out serving on the board in the future.
"It doesn't mean I won't come back," she said with a laugh.
Two more staph cases
Two more Howard County students have been diagnosed with a form of staph infection that is resistant to antibiotics.
On Wednesday, a student at Marriotts Ridge High School and one at Harper's Choice Middle School were diagnosed with skin infections caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, known as MRSA.
MRSA is believed to cause up to 19,000 deaths a year nationwide.
Howard County schools maintenance workers will continue to spray powerful disinfectants each night in the locker rooms and bathrooms at each of the 12 county high schools.
"This may be the procedures that we continue to use in those areas," said spokeswoman Patti Caplan. "It will be a good precautionary measure."
Three weeks ago, two Wilde Lake students became the first reported cases of MRSA in the county this school year. That same week, a 17-year-old Virginia high school student died after being hospitalized with the infection.
As a result, officials shut down 21 schools for cleaning to keep the illness from spreading.
Last week, school officials announced that two students in Baltimore County and one in Harford County have been treated for MRSA.
Anne Arundel County has reported more than 50 cases of staph infections, including one MRSA case, at several high schools.
Blue Ribbon school
Rep. Elijah E. Cummings visited River Hill High School last week and congratulated students and staff members for receiving the National Blue Ribbon award.
Cummings toured the Clarksville school, visited several classes and met with students and staff members.
"He was very impressed with the school and the things that we have been able to accomplish," said Principal William Ryan.
The news of River Hill's National Blue Ribbon status has attracted a number of well-wishers.
"The local community, as well as elected officials, have been very supportive," Ryan said.
River Hill High and Burleigh Manor Middle were honored by the U.S. Department of Education as two of seven No Child Left Behind-Blue Ribbon schools in Maryland and two of 287 nationally.
The National Blue Ribbon award recognizes academic excellence or major gains in achievement. The two schools will be recognized next month at a ceremony in Washington.
"We're excited about the award," Ryan said. "We're proud of our students and staff."