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Most Baltimore County School Board members saying “no thanks” to another term

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A massive election year turnover on the often-fractious Baltimore County School Board is assured.

It’s possible that come December, the hybrid board will have only two of its current 12 members returning.

Five of the seven elected members are not seeking another term.

None of the four who are appointed by the governor is asking to be reappointed. Board member Lisa Mack, who four years ago was elected, is now seeking an appointment instead.

This is the board that was told by consultant JoAnn Cox with Public Works LLC last September that it is dysfunctional and needs to learn how to work together.

“You have to agree to disagree and do it in a civil manner for the sake of the kids,” Cox told the board.

“There’s been some concern with the school board; there’s been some dysfunction,” said Cindy Sexton, the president of TABCO, the Teachers’ Association of Baltimore County. “I’m not against the change, of course.”

Sexton added that having experience on the board is good too, noting there are major issues on the horizon.

“The superintendent’s contract will be up for renewal,” Sexton said. “There’s always the budget and working to keep our educators and retain and attract them because that continues to be a huge problem.”

“That’s a real brain drain on the amount of experience we lost so we’ve got to make that up as quickly as we can,” said board Vice Chairman Rod McMillion.

He, as well as Chairwoman Julie Henn are the two current elected members who are running for reelection. Both are running unopposed in their districts.

McMillion said there are candidates running for the school board who have strong backgrounds in the community and in education.

“They’re bringing an interesting mix to the board, but there’s definitely a learning curve,” McMillion said.

School board members, as a matter of policy, are speaking for themselves rather than for the board when they are interviewed by reporters.

The board has one student member who is selected annually. The new student member, Roah Hassan from Perry Hall High School, takes her seat in July. She will be one of the most experienced board members once those elected and appointed take their seats in December.

Over the past four years, the school board has been infamous for infighting.

Board member Moalie Jose, who was appointed to the board in 2018, said she is not seeking reappointment. She said baseless attacks and distractions take away from helping children in need.

“I honestly feel that I can channel my energy in more positive areas to help our disenfranchised children through other channels I’m working on, through youth mentoring and other programs I am involved with the city of Baltimore,” Jose said.

“I think this board has been a very stressful board,” said board member Lily Rowe.

She said the current board dealt with the divisive choice of selecting a new superintendent following the resignation and perjury conviction of former school superintendent Dallas Dance.

The board also dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic and the November 2020 ransomware attack.

Rowe said she is not running for reelection because she can’t afford it. She said she works at least 30 hours a week as a board member and is paid $7,500 annually.

Rowe said, “My daughter is in high school and in two years she’ll be starting college. Which means I have to work full time to pay for her college. And I don’t have the time to work full time and continue to subsidize Baltimore County with my labor at 50 cents an hour.”

Appointed board member Erin Hager said she is not seeking reappointment because it is an enormous amount of work and she has a job and a family. In an email, Hager said she is sad to see it come to an end but she could not commit to four more years.

A commission will interview candidates who have applied for the four appointed positions and will make recommendations to Gov. Larry Hogan.

Those who are running for office will compete in the the July primary if there are more than two candidates who have filed in a particular district. That is the case in the county's first, second and fourth districts.

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