Voter's guide to Howard County school board candidates

Howard County Times

In the April 26 primary elections, 11 candidates are running for three seats on the Howard County Board of Education. Voters will vote for three; the top six candidates will advance to the Nov. 8 general election. Each candidate was asked to provide the same information for the voter's guide. Their responses are below.

•Corey M. Andrews

Age: 21

Education: College Student

Previous elected office/community involvement: Community activist, advocate for public education, previously served on HCPSS committees, and active in the Elkridge community.

Goal as a board of education member: It is time for a change in leadership in the Howard County Public School System and on the Board of Education. I'd like to see us address overcrowded schools in the east, work to close the discipline and achievement gaps, provide our educators with the support, resources, and compensation they deserve, and increase transparency and public accountability on the Board of Education. We also need to provide a well-rounded education that include strong arts, business, and vocational opportunities.

Campaign website:

•Marcelino Bedolla

Age: 79

Education: BS in Physics, graduate credit Loyola (education supervision); Johns Hopkins (earth and space science)

Previous elected office/community involvement: Oakland Mills village Board, Active in Educational issues, former commissioner on the Howard County Human Rights Commission

Goal as a board of education member: I want to change the direction of the Board to make it more transparent, responsive to the community and return it's focus to the education of all of our children. Review the impact of the recent cuts in special education on the most vulnerable of our children and work to minimize the achievement gap and revamp how we look at our children's' achievements not based on a standardized test. The County needs a new Board of Education.

Campaign website: facebook: marcelinobedollaforboe

•Kirsten Coombs

Age: 40

Education: Magna cum laude, BS Accounting, University of MD; Cum laude, BA History, University of MD; Masters of Business Administration, International concentration, UMUC

Previous elected office/community involvement: PTA volunteer, Running Brook Elementary & Wilde Lake Middle Schools; Board Member, Town Center Village Board; Field Director, Tom Coale for Delegate; Treasurer, Inner Arbor Trust; Volunteer, Howard County Library

Goal as a board of education member: As an accountant and a parent volunteer, I will advocate for programs and policies that directly impact the students in the classroom. The community and the educators should be respected and their input should be gathered before making decisions. I would like to restore in-house counsel and reduce the use of expensive outside attorneys. Central office has grown at a high rate for the past couple of years in size and salaries while class sizes have increased. The Board is not providing adequate oversight and I would try to bring accountability to the taxpayers of Howard County.

Campaign website: ¿

•Vicky Cutroneo

Age: 48

Education: Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Maryland at Baltimore

Previous elected office/community involvement: Various positions in school PTA, Girls Director for Western Howard County Youth Basketball, as well as serving as a youth coach for lacrosse, basketball and soccer for the last 11 years. Since last summer I have been advocating for healthy indoor air quality in county schools and have collaborated with other parent advocacy groups which has lead to current grass roots movement for a change in HCPSS leadership. My efforts have also lead to HCPSS forming Indoor Air Quality committee, legislation of a Maryland Public Information Act bill (HB-1105) which is currently before the senate and County Council action.

Goal as a board of education member: My goal would be to continue the work I started last year: making transparency, accountability and collaboration standard operating procedure, not something the community has to fight for. No matter what the issue, little progress can be made if we do not trust the leaders of our school system. Priority two is refocusing budget priorities to the pillars of our school system: the classroom and our teachers. This includes smaller class sizes as a non-negotiable and bringing back para-educators. Right now there is a top down spending culture — spending for image and public relations instead of the classroom.

•Ann DeLacy

Age: 65

Education: Education: Bachelor's degree in Home Economics Education and a Master's degree in School Administration and Supervision

Previous elected office/community involvement: I taught Family and Consumer Sciences for 30 years in Howard County at the middle school level and 3 years at Mt. Hebron High School. I was elected President of the Howard County Education Association in 2005. After serving three two-year terms, I retired and was elected to the HCPSS Board Education in 2012. During my term as HCEA President and now, I have volunteered yearly for numerous Simulated Congressional Hearings and Read Across American activities and served for six years on the Harper's Choice Village Board of Directors. I was a member of the HCPSS Operating Budget Review Committee from 2005 until my election in 2012. While on the Board, I have served as a volunteer in the following schools: Longfellow ES, Swansfield ES, Stevens Forest ES, Talbot Springs ES, and Northfield ES. Last year, in 2015, I graduated from Leadership Howard County Program. As well as attending the required meetings (54 last year) of the Board, I attend numerous school and community activities. I am also a member of the Heritage Green Townhouse Associations' Board of Directors.

Goal as a board of education member: Each student, whether a prodigy or severely impaired, irrespective of social economic status, or zip code must receive a world-class education. These are my priorities: 1. Close the achievement gap and reduce the opportunity gaps; 2. Address why African American students are seven times more likely to be suspended from HCPSS; 3. Promote universal PreK for all four year olds irrespective of family incomes; 4. Expand World Languages and the Elementary School Model; 5. Demand mandatory and ongoing cultural diversity training for ALL staff; 6. Ensure that all students have a voice; 7. Increase opportunities for greater community engagement.

Campaign website:

•Christina Delmont-Small

Age: 52

Education: B.A. Political Science and Economics, Boston College

Previous elected office/community involvement: President, PTA Council of Howard County (PTACHC) (2012 – 2015), Chair, School Budget Committee, PTA Council of Howard County (2015 – Present), VP of Operations, PTA Council of Howard County (2010 – 2011), Chair, Wellness Committee, PTA Council of Howard County (2010 – 2011), Co-Chair, Wellness Committee, Centennial Lane ES (2010 – 2012), Co-Chair, Redistricting Committee Centennial Lane Elementary School (2010 – 2011), Chair, Redistricting Committee Centennial Lane Elementary School (2011 – Present), PTACHC Delegate, Centennial Lane ES (2012 – Present), Chair, Advocacy Committee, Burleigh Manor Middle School PTA (2013 – Present), Board Member, Maryland PTA (2012 – 2015), Member, Maryland PTA Legislative Committee (2012 – 2014), PTACHC Representative, School and Nutrition Service Advisory Committee (2010 – 2011), PTACHC Representative, Joint Task Force on School Safety, Physical Security Subcommittee (2013), Member, Operating Budget Review Committee (2011 – 2012), Co-Chair, Operating Budget Review Committee (2012 – 2014), Co-Chair, Citizens' Operating Budget Review Committee (2014 – 2015)

Goal as a board of education member: Be accountable to the citizens of Howard County and work collaboratively with others. Set policy, staffing, budgeting and spending priorities with public review, comment and consideration. Provide accurate and complete budget and spending data for analysis so the community can have informed input. Reduce demands on educators' time that compete with teaching time while still holding them accountable and measuring progress. Improve and strengthen relationships between the BOE and all stakeholders, value stakeholders for their insight and expertise in reaching informed decisions. Hold the superintendent accountable to the BOE on all matters related to the operation of the HCPSS.

Campaign website: and

• Mavis Ellis

Age: 68

Education: BA Psychology, Fisk University, Nashville TN; MEQ Educational Psychology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, WI; MA Administration and Supervision, Bowie State University, MD

Previous elected office/community involvement: Board of Directors--National Education Association 2010-16; NEA Delegate—Education International 7th World Congress 2015; Chair—NEA Board Black Caucus 2014-16; Member—NEA Internal Concerns Committee; Board of Directors—Maryland State Education Association 2010-16; Board of Directors—Montgomery County Education Association 2007-10; President--International Association for Truancy and Dropout Prevention 2013-14; President—Takoma Park Elementary School PTA; St. John Baptist Church; SJBC-Political Action Committee; Southeastern Howard/ Laurel Chapter Continental Societies, Inc.

Goal as a board of education member: My background includes being on the Board of Directors for both NEA and MSEA, International Association for Truancy and Dropout Prevention-President, national education evaluator, high school administrator, PTA president and teacher. Currently I'm a Pupil Personnel Worker problem-solving with students and their families on issues such as special education, bullying, mental health, academic performance, crisis intervention and discipline. I know how to adjust budgets, evaluate programs and solve problems. My goal is to help change the culture of the Board of Education by instituting transparent time frames to respond to matters involving students, parents, and the community.

Campaign website:

•Ellen Flynn Giles

Age: 65

Education: Agnes Scott College, Decatur, GA (BA); Instituto Internazionale, Rome, Italy (Certification, Language & Literature; American University, Washington, DC (Certification, Information Systems)

Previous elected office/community involvement: Currently in my third term on the Board of Education, I also serve as Treasurer and on the Board of Directors of the Maryland Association of Boards of Education (MABE), a Director of MABE's Legal Services Association (LSA), and as an appointee to the MSDE ESSA Stakeholder's Committee. As a community member, I am the Treasurer and a member of the Friends of the Howard County Library Board of Directors, and am a member of the Howard County Transition Council, the Choose Civility Advisory Committee, the League of Women Voters, the Association of University Women, and the Women's Giving Circle. My years of community service include 20 years on PTA Executive Boards,16 as a member of the Community Advisory Council (CAC) to the BOE, and several years on PTACHC and the Board's Operating Budget Review Committee. During that time I also participated on dozens of school system advisory committees addressing topics from scheduling and curriculum development to policy review and facility planning. For service to the children of Howard County, I have been honored with the Life Achievement Award from the National PTA (2003), the HCPSS Partner in Education Award (2004), the BOE Friends of Education Award (2005), the Superintendent's Service Award (2008), the Kaur Foundation Promoting Cultural Diversity Award (2012), the Gerald McCauley Transformational Leadership Award from the Horizon Foundation (2015), and by the NAACP Youth Council as an Unsung Hero (2015).

Goal as a board of education member: I believe that preparing the next generation for their futures is our community's most important obligation. It requires that our children do more than acquire information and check off a list of facts or formulas. They must learn through experiment, exploration, and experience to apply that knowledge to: analyze problems; deliver on commitments; and collaborate to make a difference in an increasingly competitive world. To do this, each child needs: engaged, effective teachers; expanded 21st century classroom resources; world-class curriculum and instruction from Pre-K on; increased exposure to art, research, and work experiences; and understanding and respect for diverse cultures.

Campaign website:

•Robert Miller

Age: 58

Education: B.S. in Music Education from the University of Maryland, College Park (1981), B.S. in Psychology from the University of Maryland, College Park (1981), M.Ed. in Music Education from the University of Maryland, College Park (1986)

Previous elected office/community involvement: Director of the Columbia Big Band (2015-present); Ex-officio member of Columbia Bands, Inc. (2015-present); Director of the Columbia Concert Band and Jazz Ensemble (1989-2000); summer youth music camp director (1992-2006); Director of "The Scout Band" (1975-1981); Band director at Hammond Middle School (1985-2015), Hammond Elementary School (1985-1988), Howard High School (1981-1985), with related involvement as an adjudicator for band assessments, solo and ensemble festivals, and All-State Band auditions, as well as presenting clinics and providing support for conference-related activities

Goal as a board of education member: Develop a partner-like atmosphere of honesty, openness, transparency, and accountability; increase time for instruction/learning by revising teacher/administrator evaluation system, reduce standardized testing, decrease paperwork/meetings; promote attitude of administration serving teachers and students; facilitate individualized assistance when students struggle with hierarchical and organization skills; address equity issues to minimize determination of opportunities by parental finances; restructure special education to increase partnering with parents and improve instructional effectiveness; cultivate appreciation of diversity and development of integrity; ensure "healthy" schools; develop coherent technology policies regarding instruction and operation; establish budget oversight committee and increase financial efficiency; resist unproven fads

Campaign website:

•Pravin Ponnuri

Age: 50

Education: Masters in Business Administration and Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering

Previous elected office/community involvement: Member, Howard County Democrats Central Committee

Goal as a board of education member: Bring Transparency, Accountability & Empathy back into the School system. Help nurture a happy and holistic child who is ready for the global environment. Bring fiscal responsibility to the school budget. Address the increasing achievement gap & race relationships. Ensure the most vulnerable segment of the student population receive the resources they need to succeed in life.

Campaign website:

•Janet Siddiqui

Age: 54

Education: Johns Hopkins Carey Business School, MBA Candidate; Georgetown Medical Center, Pediatric Residency Training; Eastern Virginia Medical School, M.D.; SUNY at Buffalo, B.A.

Previous elected office/community involvement: Member, Howard County Board of Education 2007-present, Chairman, 2011, 2015, Vice-Chairman 2010; Fellow, American Academy of Pediatrics; Volunteer, PTA, Anti-bullying Task Force

Goal as a board of education member: Eliminate achievement, equity, and opportunity gaps. Improve academic excellence for all student groups through engaging parents and community groups and looking at innovative ways to address each child's individual need. Expand the use of technology in the classroom to offer more curriculum options. Ensuring our teachers have the resources they need to be successful in the classroom and that teachers and staff are appropriately compensated and have professional development. Continue efforts to ensure that our children have the best nutrition and are in a safe, bully free environment to reach their academic potential and be Career and College ready.

Campaign website:

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