Aquino to lead school board

Ellicott City lawyer selected Thursday

Giles is new vice chairman

December 16, 2007|By John-John Williams IV | John-John Williams IV,Sun reporter

Three years ago, Frank Aquino barely missed being elected to the Howard County Board of Education. Now, a year after receiving the most votes in the school board election, he has been named its chairman.

"I've wanted to be on the board for a while," Aquino said shortly after the board unanimously approved him at Thursday's meeting. "I was pleased to be elected to the board. This is the next logical step. It's just another challenge."

Aquino, 50, a lawyer from Ellicott City, has built a reputation as a collegial, hard worker since joining the board last December.

"He sees the big picture and how the pieces fit together," said Ellen Flynn Giles, who was unanimously selected as the board's vice chairman. "He's a good facilitator. He has experience in the system."

"He's organized; he wants to hear from everybody," said Diane Mikulis, the board's previous chairman. "He really wants to work well with staff."

Aquino, who is married with four children enrolled in county schools, lost by a slim margin to Mary Kay Sigaty in 2004. Afterward, he joined several school system committees and encouraged the board to adopt a civility policy, which it did last year. He was the top vote-getter in the 2006 election in a field of 10 candidates, and shortly after joining the board, was voted by its members to the position of vice chairman.

"As we head into [the future], the challenges are not diminished," he said Thursday. "There are challenges every day. It is important for us to incorporate those challenges in what we do."

Giles, 57, a senior editor and analyst with Platts, a division of McGraw-Hill Co., has built a reputation for hard work and knowledge since joining the board.

Giles was a fixture in school PTAs and systemwide committees for 22 years before joining the board.

"She just has incredible energy," Mikulis said. "Ellen's historical perspective continues to be a real asset to the board."

Giles said she is looking forward to her stint as vice chairman but warned that "we're going to have financial challenges," referring to an anticipated reduction in state and local education funding. "We are going to find the best ways to deal with it."

Andrew Gavelek, the board's first student member with partial voting rights, said that Giles and Aquino have been instrumental in acclimating him to the board.

"They are both great people," he said. "I think they are perfect people for the job."

Mikulis, who will remain on the board until her term expires at the end of next year, is confident in the new leadership.

"I'm really very comfortable," she said. "I think things will function very well."

john-john.williams@baltsun.com

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