O'Malley names 3 to school board

Member replaced, 2 open seats filled

July 30, 2008|By Kevin Rector | Kevin Rector,Sun reporter

Gov. Martin O'Malley appointed three new members to the Baltimore County school board yesterday, filling two open seats and replacing a member who had been eligible for another term.

The three new members are David Uhlfelder, an accountant, chairman of the Baltimore County Workforce Development Council and a member of the Baltimore County Economic Advisory Committee; James Coleman, a math professor at Baltimore City Community College and a member of the Maryland Council of Teachers of Mathematics; and Valerie Roddy, an assistant director to the deputy secretary for public health services at the state health department and former chief of the Bureau of Administrative Support Services for the Baltimore County Health Department.

O'Malley replaced board member John Hayden of Towson, who had served two terms and was ineligible to serve again; Donna Flynn of Catonsville, who had sent a letter of resignation to O'Malley because her job conflicted with her board responsibilities; and Joy Shillman of Pikesville, who was appointed to the board by Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. in 2003 and was eligible to serve another term.

Shillman, whom colleagues praised yesterday as a dedicated board member, said she had wanted to serve another term.

"It was a very productive five years, I think, and I'd like to have continued," she said. "I'm a little disappointed, but there were hints that I would not be reappointed."

Board President JoAnn Murphy said she was "delighted" that O'Malley made the appointments before Aug. 9, when the board will convene to outline its agenda for the school year. "We need to get started with the work of the board, and we need a full complement of board members to do that," she said.

The newly constituted board's first meeting will be Aug. 12.

Murphy said that while she has not met Uhlfelder, Coleman or Roddy, she is looking forward to having new faces on the board "in the same way that you look forward to seeing new teachers come into a school because they bring fresh looks at things, some enthusiasm."

"They don't have the seasoning that the veteran teachers have," Murphy said, "but they have another way of contributing, and new board members will bring that same sense of new perspective."

Board member Meg O'Hare said she is eager to get to know the new board members but is sad to see Shillman go.

"Joy, I think, was a good board member. She put her heart and soul into her job, and we'll miss her," O'Hare said.

In a statement, Baltimore County Executive James T. Smith Jr. praised the new members as "extremely qualified" and expressed confidence that they would serve children well.

This year, several Baltimore County school board members lamented having to deal with political pressures. At one point, panel members tabled a much-anticipated vote on a Towson school construction project favored by Smith but disliked by many parents.

Murphy said yesterday that it will not take the new members long to realize the factor that sets the board's agenda.

"For us, it's all about student achievement, so whatever we get into has to have a bearing on that," Murphy said. "Regardless of the makeup of the board, that's going to be the focus. There may be different ways the board feels about how we get there, but that's still the focus."

kevin.rector@baltsun.com

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