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Retired principal challenges incumbent for District C Harford school board seat

Fromer Bel Air High principal Joseph Voskuhl, left, and long-time board member Alysson Krchnavy are the candidates for the District C seat on the Harford County Board of Education.
Fromer Bel Air High principal Joseph Voskuhl, left, and long-time board member Alysson Krchnavy are the candidates for the District C seat on the Harford County Board of Education. (The Aegis / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Joe Voskuhl, who has not served on the Harford County Board of Education before – and has pledged to serve only one term if elected – is challenging Alysson Krchnavy, the longest-serving member of the sitting school board, for the Bel Air District C board seat.

"I will only serve one term, because I'm willing to make the tough decisions that are needed without having to think about, 'Am I going to get votes with this position, or am I going to lose votes,'" Voskuhl said.

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Voskuhl, 67, of the Bel Air area, spent 41 years as a teacher and administrator in the Baltimore City and Harford County school systems, retiring as principal of Bel Air High School.

He came to Harford County Public Schools in 1986, and he served as principal at Bel Air High from 2004 until he retired in January 2011.

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His daughter is a 2000 graduate of Bel Air High, and she is a teacher specialist at the Science and Mathematics Academy magnet program at Aberdeen High School.

Voskuhl also remains active in the community and local youth sports; he is a court-appointed special advocate, or CASA, who works with foster families.

He also helps coach the Aberdeen High boys' volleyball team, referees Harford County high school football games and he is involved with the Harford County Special Olympics basketball program.

"Seeing that the fiscal crisis continues, I decided to run, hoping to bring a fresh approach to solve the crisis facing the school system," Voskuhl said of the budget issues affecting the public school system. "The board needs to place more emphasis on placing resources into the classroom, solving the transportation issues and they need to retain good teachers."

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He said he would push for a closer working relationship with the Harford County executive, initiate "zero-based budgeting," or developing a budget from zero and justifying each expenditure, identifying county and school system services that could be combined to save money and address "capacity and enrollment issues" in the school system.

"There needs to be a change in the board, and this election provides that opportunity, and I urge the citizens of Harford County to come out and vote in the election," Voskuhl said. "We can't continue with the status quo."

Alysson Krchnavy, 48, also of the Bel Air area, was appointed to the school board by Gov. Martin O'Malley in 2008. She was appointed to a five-year term, which was extended to 2015 by state legislation passed in 2009 to create a hybrid school board of six elected members and three appointed members.

The six elected members are being elected from County Council districts; District C covers the Town of Bel Air, the surrounding communities, as well as part of Forest Hill.

"I'm running for the seat in order to continue to support a new superintendent [Barbara Canavan], who I am thrilled to have serving in our county, to continue to keep the parents and the community's interests first and foremost in the minds of the school system and the county and state government," Krchnavy said.

Krchnavy, whose daughter is a senior at Bel Air High School, is a senior branch office administrator for Edward Jones Investments in Havre de Grace.

She lives in the Bel Air area.

Krchnavy is the school board liaison for the Harford County Council of PTAs and she is a member of the Bel Air High Parent-Teacher-Student Association.

She is a 2010 graduate of the Harford Leadership Academy, which is a program of the Harford Community College and the county Chamber of Commerce, and she is a member of the academy's alumni association.

She was also recently elected secretary for the board of directors for the Maryland Association of Boards of Education; she is a member of the Havre de Grace and Harford County chambers of commerce, a board member of the nonprofit Greater Excellence in Education Foundation, a member of Oak Grove Baptist Church and the Bel Air Drama Company's parents' association.

"I am a huge fan of public education," Krchnavy said. "I feel very strongly that if the public education system ever fails, our civilization, the foundations of our community will fall."

She said she wants to bring "my business experience, my parent heart and my spiritual background to the forefront for the service of the kids."

Krchnavy noted she has been though many experiences while on the board, including elementary school redistricting, four school superintendents, the death of then-board President Leonard Wheeler in 2012 and "just incredibly difficult economic times."

"It's time now for me to run and put myself in front of the people and let them have a chance to say if I've served with dignity and integrity to their expectations," she said.

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