Incumbent Frank J. Aquino says he will look to build upon his reputation as a leader as he seeks re-election for one of four open seats in the nonpartisan Howard County school board elections.
If re-elected, Aquino says he wants to attract and retain qualified teachers; make the best use of financial resources to serve the community; ensure that every student receives educational opportunity and perform at the highest possible level; look for the most effective methods of instruction - including making the most of technology; offer equal opportunities for all students; and increase public involvement in education.
"It's a team effort. Teachers and parents, committed to their children's achievement, along with support and guidance from the Superintendent and Central Office Staff and Board vision and oversight are the key elements to our success," Aquino said in his campaign literature. "Changing demographics continue to challenge the HCPSS. The world is changing - we are preparing our children for jobs that don't exist today and we are experiencing regulatory challenges unlike any we've faced in the past decade."
Aquino, 52, is serving the last year of a four-year term. He served as vice chairman of the board his first year before serving as chairman from 2007-2009. He works as general counsel of an environmental engineering company, and said he's pleased that academic performance continues to improve. He said he's also pleased that the school system continues to address its capital needs.
"I have a very positive outlook for the future of the Howard County school system," said Aquino.
"I think being on the board for the past 3 1/2 years has been very rewarding," he said. "As a whole, the pluses outweigh the minuses."
Married for 22 years and the father of three children - Kaitlin, a graduate of Howard High School and currently a sophomore at the University of Mary Washington; Liam, a senior at Howard High School; and Kelly, an eighth-grader at Bonnie Branch Middle School - Aquino was active in school-related committees before joining the board.
Before serving on the school board, he was a delegate to the PTA Council of Howard County for five years. He has also represented each of the schools attended by his children on the PTA Council at least once during that period. Aquino served on the PTA executive committees for each of the schools attended by his children: Ilchester Elementary, Bonnie Branch Middle and Howard High Schools. Aquino has also served on two School Boundary Line Advisory Committees (also known as redistricting committees), once serving as committee co-chairman. He also served on the first three School Board Operating Budget Review Committees.
Aquino was largely responsible for the school system adopting a formal policy on civility, a set of expectations that encourage civil behavior among students, staff and parents. He recommended the idea to the school board in 2004. He later served on the committee charged with drafting the policy. He is a member of the advisory board of Choose Civility Howard County.
"I'm particularly pleased with the recognition that the school system's civility initiative received," Aquino said.
"I'm not an in-your-face person," Aquino said. "I prefer to work collaboratively in addressing and working with problems."
Aquino is a member of Howard County Executive's Spending Affordability Advisory Committee, which is his fourth time. He is also on the board of directors of the Maryland Association of Boards of Education.
Aquino is a past president and current member of the board of directors of the Baltimore Chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel. He has also volunteered as a coach of his son's Howard County Youth Program baseball team.
Aquino brings a good mix to the school board as a successful professional and a parent with knowledge of how the school system works, said school board Chairwoman Ellen Flynn Giles.
"I've enjoyed working with him," said Flynn Giles, who worked as vice chairman while Aquino served as chairman for two years. The two also worked together on the redistricting committee and on the operating budget review committee. "I learned a lot [working with him]. He's a wonderful asset to the board and to the county."
The seats of four board members, Aquino, Sandra French, Pat Gordon and Larry Cohen, are on the ballot this year. French, who is entering her 16th year on the board, plans to seek re-election. Gordon, who has served on the board for the past 10 years, said she will not seek re-election after her term ends. Cohen has yet to announce his intentions.
In addition to Aquino, Larry Walker, a parent who has been active in the school system for decades, and David Proudfoot, an administrator in Baltimore County schools, have also filed required paperwork with the Howard County Board of Elections stating their intention to run for the board. Candidates have until July 6 to file. A primary will be held Sept. 14; the general election is Nov. 2.