On Tuesday night, the Howard County Educators Association announced that it is recommending Columbia resident Kirsten Coombs as a school board candidate.
Next year, the four-year terms of members Janet Siddiqui, Ann De Lacy and vice chairwoman Ellen Flynn Giles will expire, leaving three openings on the Howard County Board of Education that citizens will vote to fill in 2016.
During every election cycle, the county's teachers union recommends school board candidates to voters who, from the perspectives of educators, will best serve local public schools.
Members of the association, which represents over 6800 educators in the county, began interviewing school board candidates in October. Final recommendations were reviewed by the organization's board of directors and representative council, made up of the association's local school leaders.
"Ms. Coombs brings a wealth of experience as a parent, an accountant, and someone deeply engaged in our community and schools," said Paul Lemle, the association's president, in a press release about the recommendation. "She is ready to hit the ground running today as a candidate, and is focused on bringing educators and the communities we serve into the decisions that affect students."
Coombs, an accountant and Wilde Lake Middle School parent, announced her run as a school board candidate in late October. At the time, she told the Howard County Times that she was driven to run by what she sees as a need for accountability and oversight in the school system.
"If you're spending hundreds of millions of dollars, we need to know how these programs are succeeding or failing, or whatever's going on," she said. "We need to know what the real status is and why you've made that decision in the first place."
Coombs moved to Columbia 18 years ago after completing bachelor's degrees in accounting and history at the University of Maryland College Park. She also has a master's degree in business administration from the University of Maryland University College.
"Howard County educators interviewed several good candidates, each of whom has a lot to offer our Board of Education," said Stephanie Masters, a special educator and member of the association's Government Relations Committee. "We have recommendations that will be coming in the future."