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Former student member seeks spot on Howard BOE

High SchoolsSchoolsRenee Foose

Nearly 12 years after he completed his last term on the Howard County Board of Education, Dan Furman is seeking to return.

This time, instead of serving as Student Member of the Board, he's looking to earn one of the four open elected seats.

"What I love about the Board of Education is that it's such a unique government institution," he said. "You can create a policy change and see the effect in the classroom almost immediately."

Furman, 30, is one of 12 candidates for the Board of Education entering the June 24 primary, where the top eight vote-getters will advance to the general election.

An attorney, Furman serves as counsel to the Howard County Delegation, a position he has held since January, and was a staff attorney with the Howard County Public School System from 2009-20012.

When Superintendent Renee Foose was hired, she made the decision to cut the legal department from the school system, instead opting to use private attorneys.

Although he lost his job when Foose came on board, Furman said that has no bearing on his campaign for the board.

"I hold no grudges," he said.

This is Furman's first run for the Board of Education, something that he knew he would be doing once he graduated high school after serving nearly two years as student member of the board.

"After I finished my term as student member, I was very sure that, at some point, that I did want to run for Board of Education," he said.

Furman said one of his top issues as a board member would be what he believes is an inequity between schools.

"I see some serious financial inequities, resource inequities, from one school to another across the district and I think that's creating a lot of problems," said Furman, a 2002 graduate of Wilde Lake High School.

Furman believes that it is time the school system develop magnet programs around the county.

"I don't see any reason why we can't take a real look at utilizing our facilities effectively and making sure we're offering a really enriched curriculum to those students who want it," he said.

Furman also noted that he would work to improve the strained relationship between the Howard County Education Association and the school board, and said he is "very invested in bettering the current relationship" between the two groups.

Furman is one of four candidates who have been endorsed by the teachers union.

He said he was "really honored" to receive the endorsement.

"These are people who actually taught me," he said. "I wouldn't be where I am today without them."

As she nears the end of her second year on the job, Furman said it's tough to grade the job Foose has done since it's still early in her tenure.

"The jury is still out a little bit," he said. "I feel like I need a broader perspective."

But Furman said he hasn't been thrilled with the current school board.

"The Superintendent has gone a little too far, too quick," he said. "It's their [School Board] job to ask questions."

If elected, Furman said he would be an "activist board member."

"I believe it's important to ask questions," he said. "I believe it's important for board members to bring up their own policy initiatives."

Furman added that Howard County happens to be very lucky because it has a great relationship with the County Council and county executive and that is something that needs to be taken advantage of.

"We're in a great position to where we can bring some really groundbreaking programs here and we can afford to do them right," he said.

This is part of a series of profiles of Howard County School Board candidates.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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