Ellicott City lawyer Frank Aquino was elected chairman of the Howard County Board of Education Monday night, and three members, including former teachers' union president Ann De Lacy, were sworn in for four-year terms.
"The eight members of this board bring vast and varied levels of professional experience to the board," Aquino said after his election. "My responsibility is to leverage that experience into effective decision-making."
Aquino was elected to the board in 2006 and re-elected four years later. He served as vice chairman from 2006-07 and this past year. He served as chairman for two one-year terms, from 2007-09.
Aquino asked the board to "be tough on issues but respectful of each other."
The election was done by secret ballot, after which Superintendent Renee Foose announced the tallies. Aquino was elected chairman by a vote of 5-2, with one abstention. New member De Lacy had nominated Cindy Vaillancourt for the position.
When asked to publicly affirm their votes for Aquino, student member Cole Rosenberg, Sandra French, Aquino, Brian Meshkin and Ellen Giles all raised their hands.
Meshkin was elected vice chairman by a vote of 5-1, with two abstentions. De Lacy had also nominated Vaillancourt for the position. When asked to publicly affirm their votes for the position, Rosenberg, Aquino, Meshkin, Giles and Vaillancourt raised their hands.
It is the first leadership position for Meshkin, who was elected to the board in 2010.
Prior to the vote, De Lacy and re-elected members Giles and Siddiqui took their oaths of office, officially beginning their four-year terms.
"I promise all of you that I will work hard and not let you down, not to let the entire community down in my efforts to move Howard County public schools from a good system to one of the word's best school systems," De Lacy said. "We have the tools and resources, now we need the united vision of the board of education."
Numerous local elected officials were present for the oaths of office — administered by Acting Clerk of the Court Wayne Robey — and vote, including state Sens. Jim Robey and Allen Kittleman, Dels. Frank Turner and Jim Malone, and County Council members Jen Terrasa, Courtney Watson and Chairwoman Mary Kay Sigaty.
Also present were former board members Patricia Gordon and Allen Dyer. Dyer's term ended with De Lacy's swearing in. The former board member lost his bid for re-election in the April primary.
Foose said that in the wake of the presidential and board election, "we've been reminded of the negative effects a contentious political landscape can have on governance, and how detrimental it is to moving forward in a positive direction."
Board members must "abandon personal agendas," Foose said, to model the collaborative behavior taught to students.
"It's not just our teachers who are responsible for teaching our children when they're standing in front of a classroom," Foose said. "We're all teachers, all of the time. ... I urge all of us to partner to keep our promises to the children in the community we serve."