Meshkin running for Howard school board

Fulton father of three wants to increase innovation and voluntarism

April 24, 2010|By John-John Williams IV, The Baltimore Sun

Brian Meshkin, the father of three young children expected to matriculate through Howard County schools and a volunteer with the district, has announced his candidacy for the school board.

If elected, Meshkin, a 33-year-old graduate of Glenelg High School and the University of Maryland, College Park, wants to use cost-efficient initiatives to better prepare students in the county for the global economy. He says that with his background as an entrepreneur and advocate for children, he will work to combat tough economic times while improving the school system's already highly regarded standards.

"I want all the kids in the county prepared. I'd like to see some innovative processes and policies," said Meshkin. "It's easy for us to pat ourselves on the back, but I think we can do more. The overall education system hasn't changed as fast as the world."

Meshkin, who lives in Fulton with his wife of 10 years, Catherine, a student at George Mason University's law school, and their children, ages 4, 6, and 9, knows advancing a school system that many consider to be one of the best in the nation won't be easy.

"I believe we need to do more," said Meshkin, who has served as chair of the school system's operating budget committee for the past two years. "My kids and all these children are only going to be able to do this once. It's an obligation as a community to do more with less. We have great teachers. We need to have a process in place to identify innovative opportunities and test them."

The seats of four board members, Frank 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, as does Aquino, who is seeking a second term. Gordon, who has served on the board for the past 10 years, has said she will not seek re-election, and Cohen has yet to announce his intentions.

In addition, Larry Walker, a parent who has been active in the school system for decades, and David Proudfoot, an administrator in Baltimore County schools, have filed the required paperwork with the Howard County Board of Elections stating their intention to run. Candidates have until July 6 to file. A primary will be held Sept. 14; the general election is Nov. 2.

An executive with a bioscience company, Meshkin works as an adjunct professor of entrepreneurship at Howard Community College. He's also working on a master's degree in business at the University of Maryland.

Meshkin wants to involve as many volunteers as possible to help save the school system money. He has already initiated several money-saving efforts.

For example, he persuaded the school system and the health department to use more than 100 trained health volunteers to administer the H1N1 vaccine, which saved tens of thousands of dollars. He also oversaw a pilot at Fulton Elementary School where 25 parents completed a number of maintenance duties at the school, including mulching flower beds and collecting trash near the school. He's currently in talks with school system officials to expand this program and hopes it will be unveiled by the next school year.

"One of the great strengths is our public," he said.

Meshkin also wants to increase physical activities, provide healthier snacks to students and copy efforts by a neighboring school system to serve fresher, organic foods during lunch.

"We have to do something right for all of our kids," he said. "I'm really passionate about that."

Meshkin also wants to improve the technology offerings of the school system. Improved technology will help students better prepare for the global workforce while giving teachers more free time to provide one-on-one teaching opportunities with students, according to Meshkin.

Meshkin and his family had previously lived in San Diego, but when he moved back to Howard County, he immersed himself in school-related committees and policies. He is a PTA president at Fulton Elementary; chair of the PTA Council of Howard County Health and Wellness Committee; member of the Howard County Board of Education Citizens Advisory Committee; member of the Howard County School Health Council; member of the superintendent's District Planning Team; a participant in school board policy review committees; and marketing volunteer for the Community Action Council, which manages the Head Start early childhood education program.

"The things I am doing now are true to my roots as a community activist," Meshkin said. "Whether I win or lose, I will learn a lot in the process. "

Meshkin's campaign committee includes Howard County Education Association President Ann DeLacy and former school board member Diane Mikulis. Attempts to reach both were unsuccessful.

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