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Elkridge resident seeks spot on Howard school board

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Leslie Kornreich has been trying to "kick the door in" of the Howard County Board of Education over the past four years, running for a spot on the board twice.

Now in the midst of her third campaign, the hallmark of her message, she says, remains the same.

The school board needs members who will listen and engage teachers and the community.

"The Board of Education are elected officials, which means they answer to the citizens of Howard County," she said. "That means they need to listen to what the citizens and parents of Howard County have to say."

Kornreich, 42, said her run this year is driven by issues she sees not improving, such as school overcrowding.

"By 2020, seven out of our 12 high schools will be at or over 115 percent of their capacity," she said.

Regarding the recent redistricting measures, Kornreich said they are "short-term fixes."

With additional development in Columbia, she envisions Columbia schools being overcrowded in the near future.

"It's just going to happen all over again, and I hate to see it, but it's all because of poor planning," she said. "We've got to plan better."

Kornreich, an Elkridge resident, has two students enrolled in Howard County public schools. Her son is a senior at Howard High and her daughter is a sixth-grader at Elkridge Landing Middle School.

She made it through the primary in 2010, finishing eighth of 11 candidates, when four seats on the board were open. She did not advance through the primary in 2012.

Kornreich expressed concern regarding the elementary school model initiative to be rolled out in five schools next year.

The elementary schedule calls for expanded pre-kindergarten and an earlier introduction to foreign language, although some parents have been concerned that it will reduce the amount of instruction for some subjects, such as music.

Kornreich, whose daughter has played the viola since fourth grade, believes tinkering with the quality of the music education program is a dangerous idea.

"I know what music education does for a child's academic growth, their social growth. It encompasses everything," she said.

Now in her third campaign, Kornreich believes things will be different this time around with four open seats and two incumbents choosing not to seek re-election, and a base of support that she has developed during previous runs for the board.

"Name recognition is a huge component of this race because it's countywide," she said.

Kornreich, whose son is enrolled in the Academic Life Skills program at Howard High School, said her 17 years of experience navigating the "tangled web" of special education programs will also help her on the board.

"It all comes down to meeting the individual needs of the student," she said.

Kornreich said she sees an "adversarial relationship" between teachers and school administration that needs to be resolved.

"If you want teachers to be at their best, if you want them to be happy in their jobs, which they should be, then they need to be treated with respect as professionals and offered fair compensation," she said.

She also believes the current school board is "passively accepting" recommendations by the superintendent and school administration.

"It all comes down to a failure to listen and involve the teachers, the parents, the community, in the decision making at the school system," she said.

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

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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