Two named to school board

In Harford, O'Malley bypasses recommendations of local panel

July 10, 2008|By Madison Park | Madison Park,SUN REPORTER

A PTA parent and a retired educator from Bel Air were appointed to five-year terms on the Harford County Board of Education yesterday by Gov. Martin O'Malley.

Alysson L. Krchnavy and Leonard Wheeler were named to the seven-member board in a county embroiled in a debate over whether the school board should be elected or appointed.

Neither Krchnavy nor Wheeler was nominated by the Harford County Board of Education Recommendation Committee, a temporary body of local public officials who made suggestions to the governor's office.

The committee did not have the authority to force the governor to accept its recommendations.

Shaun Adamec, a spokesman for the governor, said the office "received input from a cross-section of the community, including parents, educators, advocates and the recommendation from the committee. ... Harford County had a voice, and the committee had one of the voices."

Krchnavy, a former account manager who left the corporate world after 11 years to raise her daughter, has been a substitute teacher at an elementary school for five years. She interviewed this week with the local committee but was not recommended.

"It's never fun to hear you're not recommended," Krchnavy said. "It makes you stronger and makes you want to work harder."

Wheeler, a retired educator and former Harford County Democratic Central Committee member, spent more than 30 years as a teacher and administrator in Baltimore schools. Wheeler, who lives in Bel Air, has a doctorate in education from Temple University and taught education research at the College of Notre Dame of Maryland.

"It is an opportunity to make a difference," Wheeler said. "As a board member, I want to return some of the experience and training I've had throughout the years."

Wheeler said he was unable to meet the recommendation committee's deadline to go through its process. Wheeler, an African- American, was endorsed by the Harford chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

The terms for Thomas L. Fidler Jr. and Salina M. Williams, who were president and vice president on the school board respectively, expired this week. Williams was not reappointed and Fidler did not seek reappointment.

The Board of Education Recommendation Committee was created this year to review school board candidates after complaints were aired that the appointment process was not sufficiently public.

The committee interviewed five candidates Monday and announced that its top choice was Nancy Reynolds, a retired principal at Bel Air Middle School with 30 years of education experience, and its second choice, Mohammad Reza Shahab, a retired educator who coordinated vocational education in D.C. public schools.

After neither of the committee's recommendations was accepted by the governor, County Council member Richard Slutzky expressed disappointment.

"In the end, this validates the concerns of Harford County citizens that we have no process and that we have a need for an elected board of education," he said.

The tentative date for swearing in the two appointees is Aug. 4.

madison.park@baltsun.com

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