School board elections: Our choices for PG, Howard counties

In this year's election, Laurel voters in Prince George's County will help decide some transforming issues, such as whether to expand gambling in the state and, important locally, whether to allow a sixth casino in Prince George's. Just as important, county residents who live in District 1 will decide who takes over the school board seat from retiring Rosalind Johnson, a decision that comes at a time of transition and instability as the school board is searching for a new superintendent. Two other immediate concerns facing the Prince George's County Board of Education are a budget that needs to be stretched to cover a multitude of physical plant improvements throughout the county and student achievement at graduation time

Two very different candidates are vying for the seat; our choice is Laurel resident Zabrina Epps.

Epps brings experience in all areas that the county and district need. She has chaired search committees for management positions at a community college; worked as a budget analyst at the state level; and as a community college counselor, she sees first-hand what level of readiness high school grads need so they don't have to spin their wheels in remedial classes, catching up with what they didn't learn in high school.

David Murray, a junior at University of Maryland Baltimore County, is one of three school board candidates who are college students. He has a good understanding of the hot issues in the county and District 1, but simply does not have the practical experience to undertake the superintendent search, perform critical budget analysis or devise concrete plans for ensuring academic readiness of graduates.

For Howard County school board: Gertler, Giles, Scott

Six people are running for the three open seats on the Howard County School Board, including two incumbents. To varying degrees, they are a talented, energetic group, up to the task of moving the school system forward. But three of the six, we believe, stand out above the others and deserve your vote.

Challenger David Gertler has a somewhat unusual resume for a school board candidate: master's degrees in electrical engineering and in business administration, a career steeped in technology (he has worked as a software executive and as program director for a communications company).

Unusual or not, the board could use someone with that background, someone with the skills and expertise to help guide the school system as it pushes to stay abreast of the latest technological advances in education and to make sure students have the skills they will need in this fast-changing world. The fact that Gertler not only has that expertise but also comes across as forthright and sincere makes him well worth your vote.

Incumbent Ellen Giles is another easy choice. For the past quarter-century Giles has been immersed in Howard County education, serving on a variety of committees, PTAs, councils and, for the past six years, on the school board, including stints as chairwoman and vice chairwoman. She is able and smart, aware of the issues and well-versed in the minutiae of Howard County schools.

Giles' steadiness and experience make her a valuable member of the board, one voters would be wise to return for another four years.

Jackie Scott, like Gertler, would be a newcomer on the board, but like Gertler, she is an appealing candidate. An attorney and adjunct professor at the Georgetown University Law Center, Scott describes herself at candidate forums as passionate about education and "laser-focused" on results.

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