School board members mull options for 2014 elections

The 2014 elections are more than a year away, but some Howard County Board of Education members already are mulling over their options for a future run.

Four board members will be up for re-election next year — Board Chairman Frank Aquino, Vice Chairman Brian Meshkin, Cindy Vaillancourt and Sandra French.


Of those four, the only member to say she is definitely running for another term is Vaillancourt, who is in her first term on the board.

"I don't want to leave office until I get done what I want to get done, and there's still work I want to get to," Vaillancourt said. "I will be running again."

Specifically, Vaillancourt said she wants to "take a serious look" at high school start times and the schedule of the school day.

"The high school start time is an unhealthy situation for teenagers and it's just not conducive to high achievement," she said. "We're working at cross-purposes with our other investments when we put our kids in a classroom at 7:30 in the morning. The school day is also an issue we should look at. We're trying to get so much into one day and there are options we can look at."

Earlier this year the school system announced it was looking at school start times with a feasibility study and a possible parent survey, but no hard timeline has been set for any review or implementation.

Meshkin, another first-term member who was elected with Vaillancourt to the board in 2010, said he is "currently exploring and evaluating" whether to run again, but right now is "focused on the tasks at hand" on the board.

"I've been doing some soul-searching, talking with my wife if this is something I should do," he said. "I would need a compelling reason to run, and I'm reflecting back on what I've done in this term. One of the major reasons I would run is to see the implementation of some of the things we've put in place. I've learned that implementation is sometimes more important than the idea itself."

During the past three years, Meshkin has championed the creation of a continuous improvement coordinator in the school system's central office and increased digital learning.

French, who first served on the board from 1992-2004 and again since 2006, said she was thinking over her options but has not made a decision on running.

"I'm enjoying what I do, and I'm totally in support of the movement of the board and glad to be a part of it," she said.

Aquino, who was elected to the board in 2006 and has served as chairman from 2007-2009 and again this year, said he was focused on finishing the one-year term as board chairman and then considering his future options.

A fifth seat could be open on the board as well, as Janet Siddiqui announced earlier this summer her run for a District 13 delegate seat. Siddiqui was re-elected to the board last year, and if elected to the General Assembly, her seat would be filled by appointment from the new county executive.