Providing an exceptional education to Montgomery County’s youth requires vision, wisdom and sometimes, the ability to make unpopular decisions.
When the next school board is sworn in, Superintendent Joshua P. Starr will have one year of leadership under his belt and the school system will likely have to cinch its budgetary belt tighter as post-recession financial pressures continue.
On the Montgomery school board, three of seven elected seats are in play this year, but only the at-large and District 2 races appear on the April primary ballot. The top two vote-getters in each move on to the Nov. 6 general election.
In District 2, which after last year’s redistricting includes Gaithersburg, Germantown and Rockville, member Laura V. Berthiaume is not seeking a second term and five well-qualified candidates are trying for the seat.
Fred Evans — a former high school principal — stands out in this race.
Evans has been away from the day-to-day operations in Montgomery County schools for 12 years, but has children in county schools: Two children are enrolled in high school and a third is an assistant principal.
Among his priorities are undertaking a comprehensive analysis of the school system based on best practices from other school systems, affording more teacher training and earlier identification for students who need extra assistance to initiate what he calls “the leg up.”
The other candidates offer educated and thoughtful perspectives as parents of and advocates for children in the school system. But Evans has an edge as an educator, parent and versatile learner.
Evans sought a seat on the county council in 2010. He told The Gazette he is committed to serving a full term on the school board if elected.
In the at-large race, incumbent Phil Kauffman, a federal lawyer from Olney, deserves a second term on the board.
He has gained a solid understanding of the intricacies of running the state’s largest school system. He chairs the board’s Fiscal Management Committee and has made it a point to improve transparency in the budget process, which is vital at a time when popular projects and initiatives have been cut.
He also shows a willingness to accept that some board decisions deserve a second look, most recently the site selection of the Bethesda-Chevy Chase middle school.
Two candidates are running for District 4: Incumbent Christopher Barclay and Annita Seckinger. Their names will appear on the November ballot.