Robert Leib, a former county government employee and retired Navy surface warfare officer, is making his way back to public service. The Harwood resident was selected by the School Board Appointment Commission Monday to fill a vacant seat on the county school board.
The new appointee’s priorities include school safety, responsible spending and school-sponsored programs to prepare students for careers in informational technology and cyber security — both growing fields in Anne Arundel County.
Leib will have two years to make his impression on the school board. His seat will be replaced in December 2020 when county residents in councilmanic Districts 2, 3 and 6 elect school board representatives.
Born in Sunbury, Pa., Leib stuck his roots in the Annapolis area when he enrolled at the Naval Academy. He graduated in 1972 and served until 1994.
Leib got his first taste of county schools while on active duty. He served as treasurer of the South River High School Sports Booster Club.
He said civic engagement was part of his upbringing.
“My dad was very active in the community and I guess, without ever knowing, it rubbed off on me,” Leib said. “I believe part of being an informed citizen is participating in your community.”
After he retired from the Navy, Leib worked briefly at Anne Arundel Community College in the facilities management and coordination department. He then got a job with the county school system and worked as a liaison between the district and various government offices. Leib became the superintendent’s chief of staff in 2004.
After more than 11 years in the school system, Leib switched to county government. He got his start in the John Leopold administration where his duties included serving as liaison for education and Base Realignment and Closure.
Leib left county government when Leopold left office in 2013 after being convicted of misconduct in office, then rejoined under the Schuh administration.
“Schuh sought me out and asked me to set up an office of military and veterans affairs,” Leib said. “That was a worthy undertaking and I enjoyed it.”
He said his experiences on both sides give him an advantage.
“I believe I have a better understanding of how they each approach their business,” Leib said about the school system and county government.
He said he looks forward to forging a strong relationship with County Executive-elect Steuart Pittman.
Leib said he set his sights on the school board as soon as Maria Sasso, the former District 30 representative, stepped down in July. He saw it as an opportunity to give back to the district in which his daughter attended school.
One of his goals is to encourage his new colleagues to think more about the Kirwan Commission and the way its recommendations could affect the county.
“We need to be intimately involved,” Leib said.
Members of the School Board Appointment Committee cited Leib’s quiet schedule, familiarity with the school board and military background as some of the new member’s strengths. He will be sworn in Dec. 3.
Appointing school board members is a dying practice in Anne Arundel County, and some have criticized the process because it does not engage the public in the same way an election does.
Two years from now, the entire school board will be comprised entirely of elected officials.