School board member urges frugality


The newest member of the Harford County Board of Education, Robert B. "Bob" Thomas Jr., said he wants to make sure that the public's money is spent wisely on education.

"The days where you throw money at education to solve all the educational problems of the world are over," Mr. Thomas said, speaking after being sworn in to office Wednesday at the Harford County Courthouse in Bel Air.

Gov. Parris N. Glendening appointed him to a five-year term on the board June 22.

Mr. Thomas, deputy chief state fire marshal and a 42-year-old father of two, promised accountability for how public money is spent.

He called himself a conservative who doesn't make rash decisions. In fact, it took Mr. Thomas nearly a year to decide to run for the Joppa-area board of education seat vacated last month by Keith A. Williams.

Mr. Thomas said calls from residents, teachers and county officials finally persuaded him to run. And the small "Marrying Room," where the swearing-in was held, was jammed with supporters -- from PTA members, to County Council members, to County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann.

Mr. Thomas will be joined on the board by the new student representative, Jennifer R. Miller, 16, who will be a senior at Aberdeen High School.

Jennifer was elected to the position in November by the Harford County Regional Association of Student Councils. She replaces Erin K. Fitzgerald, who graduated in June from Harford Technical High School.

A student representative can cast a "preferential vote" on all matters considered by the board, but the vote does not count toward the final decision. Jennifer said she would like to raise students' awareness of different cultures.

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