Maryland Voter Guide 2022

Voter guide: Larry Pretlow II, Board of Education (2), Howard

Larry Pretlow II

Non-Partisan candidate for Howard County Board of Education, D2

Age 30

Residence Columbia, Maryland

Occupation Owner/CEO, LaPret World, LLC.

Education Earning B.S. Legal Studies at the University of Maryland Global Campus

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Previous political experience

Oakland Mills Community Association (OMCA) Board of Directors

Why are you running for office?

I am running because my community has traditionally been ignored when the BOE makes decisions. On the Oakland Mills Village board I created the Community Together outreach committee to engage more Oakland Mills residents with their community. I want to take my nonpartisan leadership to bring opportunities for all District 2 residents to be heard. On the recent budget and redistricting, the current BOE as a whole did not listen to District 2 residents. They did not even bother contacting Spanish speaking residents. I was organizing events and listening to the community. I also conducted ridealongs with current BOE members. Where were the other candidates at this time? We cannot let this happen to District 2 again. District 2 needs a voice for them this time around.

The 2019 fall redistricting process is still dominating conversations among community members. What other issues are you going to bring to light as a school board member, and how will you get them the attention they deserve?

One major issue is transparency. In the last redistricting cycle district 2 was ignored and Spanish speaking residents were not even notified till after the redistricting was passed. I will only make decisions based on accurate data. If elected I will promote innovative programs through creative means to spur real action and get results on issues such as the achievement gap. This would follow the lead of Hammond HS in promoting G/T and AP classes to minority students. I would promote combining this with investing in tutoring to reduce the achievement gap.

I would like to focus on building and renovating schools to reduce overcrowding and promote health equity. We are in a dire situation that we cannot redistrict out of due to a large shortage of seats. We need to ensure there is community input so that these projects are prioritized rather than “want to have” projects such as a cultural center.

I would like to focus on investing the needed amount of resources into special education which is currently drastically underfunded by working collaboratively with stakeholders on revenue sources as well as potential cuts made in administration.

We need a smart budget where we can accomplish more with what we have. We need a multi-year budget process that is not broken, and prioritizes money in the classroom and ensures that money is being used effectively to improve student performance. We should audit every line item. G/T, Special Education, Music, and Technology should be fully funded.

Howard Schools Superintendent Michael Martirano has long been “ringing the bell” about eliminating the health fund deficit. He has proposed to fully eliminate the deficit by fiscal 2022 through school system savings and county funding. Are you in favor of Mr. Martirano’s plan, and why or why not? Do you think the plan should be more aggressive or less?

I believe we need to eliminate the health care deficit more aggressively. For the Fiscal Year 2018-2019, 12 million in one time funds that were supposed to be used to pay down the health care deficit were instead used for operating expenses. The health care deficit came about in the Foose administration as money that was supposed to be used to pay for healthcare was used for unnecessary, wasteful projects instead. We should fully audit the school system and use the money we find in eliminating inefficiencies in the central office to pay down the health care deficit.

In Mr. Martirano’s proposal fiscal 2021 operating budget, he is looking to address the special education staffing crisis by hiring more than 200 additional staff members in the next year. Is the best avenue to address the staffing crisis, and why or why not? What, if any, additional support programs should also be introduced?

I believe this is one of the steps we should take to address the increased resources required in special education. In an ideal world, this is the bare minimum we should invest in our special education programs. One of my priorities would be to carefully audit the school system spending as well as work with the county executive and county council to cut unneeded expenses in the county budget. In addition, we also need to provide additional support programs such as increased identification of students who have special needs through increased and more equitable access to testing as right now the process is too difficult and hurts low-income parents the most as getting an IEP is made a very difficult process. We need to provide additional training supports as well to special education teachers so that they can most effectively teach students with special needs.

Mr. Martirano’s contract ends in June 2022. At this point in time, would you be in favor of renewing his contract? Why or why not?

No. I am not pleased with the current superintendent, as he has not advocated enough for the classroom. He knew last year that the budget was going to get cut, and he knows the same now, so he either needed to recommend revenue sources and areas in the county budget where money can be found and/or find bloated central office positions to cut. Instead, we ended up with cuts in paraeducators who assist our most vulnerable students while increasing overpaid central office positions. The superintendent also led and took charge of a highly controversial and divisive redistricting process that did not follow the BOE’s policies. He should have shown leadership and ensured feed sizes were at or above 15% (5.2%, for instance, is not acceptable), Students were only to be moved to address overcrowding (yet 68% of students in one District 2 school were moved between non-overcrowded schools). Students should attend close by schools (not the 8th farthest school away), and adequate notice provided to district 2 communities such as the Hispanic community who were only notified after the plan passed. The superintendent still has a chance to lead for 2 years if he so chooses until his contract expires. If I am on the board, then I will hold him to higher standards, which I will use to assess whether or not his contract is fit for- or if he so wishes to renew it.