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Outgoing school board member takes job with Schuh

From left, Board of Education members Teresa Milio Birge, Deborah Ritchie, and Amalie Brandenburg listen at a budget hearing in January.
From left, Board of Education members Teresa Milio Birge, Deborah Ritchie, and Amalie Brandenburg listen at a budget hearing in January. (By Matthew Cole, Staff)

Outgoing board member Amalie Brandenburg is joining County Executive-elect Steve Schuh's team.

Brandenburg was appointed as the education adviser to the county executive Friday morning. She will act as a liaison for Anne Arundel Community College, the library system and the Board of Education. It's a new position for the county, and is part of a comprehensive reorganization of the county government.

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Brandenburg's role will be primarily to assist in helping each institution meet their goals and coordinate. She will also assist advancing administration priorities in each area. It will not be to micromanage, he said.

"Our job is not to manage of administer them, it's to support them," Schuh said.

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Brandenburg previously served on the Board of Education for three and a half years. Her term was set to end in 2016. She resigned from her position at the Board of Education, effective Nov. 30 at Wednesday night's meeting.

Schuh said Brandenburg was a logical choice after working with her for several years as a state delegate.

He called her "genetically engineered" for the job, as the chair of the budget committee on the Board of Education.

In her tenure, Brandenburg has voted against every superintendent recommended operating budget, from fiscal 2012 to the most recent, fiscal 2015. She often cited the unlikelihood that the budget would pass untouched by the County Council, or that money would be taken away from other core services to fund the budget.

Brandenburg said that in previous years, it felt as though the school system wasn't being a team player with its budget requests. In tough economic times, it was hard to justify asking for 6 to 8 percent over maintenance of effort, the state-mandated amount the county must pay to the schools.

"I felt like it was very unreasonable and didn't present ourselves as team players. We are all in this together. The community college needs it, the library needs it," she said.

Schuh said colleagues on the Board of Education and in the school system respect her financial expertise – her master's degree is in business administration from the University of Maryland.

"I have voted against many state budgets," Schuh said. "That does not mean that I would have opposed a more responsible version of those budgets, I could not accept them as they were presented."

Two former board members will be in county government this upcoming year. Former board member Andrew Pruski recently won his District 4 seat on the County Council in November by 57 percent of the vote.

Brandenburg has four children, three of which attend Benfield Elementary School in Severna Park. She has served on the Parent-Teachers Association at Benfield. She also earned her undergraduate degree in engineering from Maryland.

Brandenburg most recently worked in industrial air conditioning and water treatment, where she held various positions. This position is full time, and paid, though Schuh was unsure of how much it will pay.

Brandenburg said that through her work with the Board of Education, she helped with weekend retreats between board members and the County Council, saying it's difficult to demonize someone when there is a personal relationship.

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"We're not always going to agree, but at least we'll have a conversation. We're part of this great movement. It's going to be completely different than it's ever been."

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