A successful public school system nurtures students’ well-being, creates a sense of belonging and safety, and provides every student with the necessary resources to succeed.
- Foster student achievement in a stable and inspiring learning environment; prioritize in-person learning
- Engage parents in collective decision making
- Attract qualified educators and increase retention with competitive salaries, ample support, and effective training
- Ensure fiscal responsibility, transparency, and resiliency by keeping budget nimble enough to respond to change and crisis
- Commit to the quality of public education
I broke many glass ceilings for my family regarding education and I firmly believe public education is the most important public service provided by the government. It should benefit all citizens, regardless of their economic situation. A poor quality public education hurts the families who cannot afford alternatives the most. HCPSS is the most important asset this county offers. It is one of the reasons I moved here and is no doubt a reason the majority of people move here. A quality public school system is the key to a better and fair society and community.
- Invest in the school infrastructure to address school overcrowding
As a structural engineer, I deeply believe that long term investment in our brick and mortar infrastructure is necessary to allow every student to succeed in education. Most of our schools were built before 2000 and Howard County has seen a large population growth since the year 2000. Our county population grew 33.3% since 2000; from 240,590 in 2000 to 332,722 in 2020. By comparison the US population grew 17.5% and Maryland grew 16.2%. New students enrolled in HCPSS currently exceed new students enrolled in Montgomery County Public School System even though MCPSS is three times bigger than HCPSS. The PreK program continues to expand and add thousands of new students. Renovation of existing schools and construction of new schools are necessary to accommodate the rapid growth of students. Doing so reduces unnecessary school redistricting, which causes significant hardships and obstacles for both students and families. Portables cannot solve this problem. They are neither safe nor energy efficient. I believe we should build new schools where possible and renovate or rebuild existing schools with more capacity. Talbott Springs Elementary School is a great example of renovating and creating more capacity to keep communities together. We must invest more to upgrade and expand capacity at existing schools.
- Prioritize students’ physical and social-emotional well-being
The Covid-19 pandemic that began in March 2020 has impacted many families and students in HCPSS. What is known is that virtual education during the height of the pandemic greatly put our students behind in their education. I believe HCPSS should have opened schools up sooner than they did and I think it is prudent that HCPSS put together a detailed report on what worked and what did not work in educating students during the pandemic. What we also know is that students learn much better in person and their social-emotional well-being suffers in isolation. It is the social-emotional well-being of students that I would like to address while serving on the BOE. We need to add more counselors to work with students and families. We need to commit to less screen time, more hands-on learning, more affordable and accessible after-school sports. We need to encourage physical health. Also, we need to remember that frequent school redistricting is damaging to students’ mental health. Multiple redistrictings can affect a students’ sense of belonging to a school and disrupt friendships as well as relationships with school staff and the wider community. A student’s social-emotional well-being can impact their confidence, self-esteem, and ability to learn and it must be prioritized.
- Promote the strength of diversity
Howard County is a very diverse community and HCPSS has benefited enormously from our diverse student population. Students can learn so much from each other and appreciate each other’s differences. Diverse environments stimulate their curiosity and open-mindedness. We must continue to embrace our diverse population and learn from each other. We live in a global society and employers are looking for people that have a thorough understanding of cultures, cultural norms, and living in a diverse society. Embracing diversity will foster our students’ global citizenship and leadership.
5. Utilize taxpayer money responsibly
While taxes are already high in the state of Maryland and in Howard County, citizens generally tolerate high taxes if they feel they are receiving something of great value for the expense incurred. Over 90% of Howard County funding comes from Property and Income Tax. HCPSS receives half of the Howard County Budget and education is the largest expenditure of taxpayer dollars. HCPSS has a responsibility to use that money wisely and effectively, without wasting it on decisions that do not directly benefit classroom instruction and student outcomes. Some areas I think the BOE should reassess are transportation, devices, and administration staffing. Finally, I will look for other ways to minimize waste and pursue other funding sources from which we can benefit.