Olga Butler considers herself a "child-centered" candidate for the Howard County Board of Education.
"The progress that we want our students to make is stymied because we're dealing with adult issues that are overshadowing our kid issues," Butler said.
Butler, 37, is among 13 candidates seeking one of the four open seats on the Howard County Board of Education.
The Howard County native who now lives in Elkridge is in the midst of her second campaign for school board.
In 2012, Butler finished 12th out of 15 candidates and did not advance through the primary.
This time around, Butler said she doesn't feel like the new kid on the block, but it's still a new experience because there are always new issues.
"It's always a new race, I think, and you can never take for granted that because you've done it before that you know or are prepared. You never are," she said. "It's still constantly work to make sure you are aware of how people feel of the issues that are facing our children."
Butler is passionate about implementing the Common Core State Standards, which she believes could be "life changing" for students.
She has a unique perspective on the academic standards since her two sons, one soon-to-be-graduate of Long Reach High School and a 20-month-old, are on opposite ends on the education spectrum.
Her older son has not seen any aspect of the Common Core, while her youngest will start school completely immersed in the new standards.
"Our educators are the ones who are going to teach this to my son, they are going to get this message across," she said. "If they are not able to do so, if they are not equipped with what they need to do so, if they are not supported in this process, then yes I would be concerned because I feel that my son may not get out of Common Core what he should."
Butler, a Wilde Lake High School graduate, said she is "very happy" with the education her older son has received in Howard County.
Butler referred to the relationship of school board members and teachers union representatives as "toxic," and said it seems as though members of each group have stopped talking and listening to each other.
"We're not compromising with each other," she said.
Butler said Superintendent Renee Foose has a "very admirable vision" for the school system.
"Our common, shared goal is to make this school system work for all," she said. "As a citizen of Howard County, I'd like to support that goal and that mission as much as possible."
Butler said she is all for educators being compensated as fair as possible, but that doesn't make a multi-year contract agreement realistic.
"I've had the opportunity to work on budgets and manage budgets for state, local and nonprofit organizations as well as private companies," she said. "It's not always feasible to promise a multi-year deal."
Butler owns two small businesses.
She has partnered with her mother for the past 12 years to produce Olga's Liberian Hot Sauce, which is sold online and at trade shows.
Butler is also the owner of Aglo Affairs, an event planning agency that she has led for the past 15 years.
This is part of a series of profiles of Howard County School Board candidates.
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