District 1 school board in Prince George’s race may not be decided for weeks -- Gazette.Net







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This story was updated at 1:50 p.m. Nov. 7, 2012.

With all but absentee and provisional ballots counted, the District 1 school board race in Prince George’s County will remain too close to call for the next couple of weeks.

Zabrina Epps led the District 1 race Wednesday morning with 16,066 votes, or 50.28 percent; her opponent, David Murray, had 15,813 votes, or 49.48 percent, according to the county Board of Elections website, giving Epps a 253-vote lead.

The two candidates are vying to replace Rosalind Johnson, who did not run for re-election.

The official winner may not be determined until Nov. 16; absentee ballots that have been received so far will be counted today; provisional ballots will be counted at 10 a.m. Nov. 14, and any remaining absentee ballots received by Nov. 16 will be counted on that day.

There is no way to know how many ballots remain to be counted, as absentee ballots will continue to be accepted until Nov. 16, said Errol Scott of the Prince George’s County Board of Elections.

”I’m cautiously optimistic,” Epps said Wednesday of her 253-vote lead. “The numbers look good, and we’ll see what happens.”

As of press time, Murray could not be reached for comment.

Epps, 41, of Laurel is an academic adviser at The Community College of Baltimore County. She has a master's degree in public management and was a former budget analyst with the Maryland General Assembly and a fiscal officer with the Maryland secretary of state. She is also a tutor for high school students.

During the campaign, Epps' emphasis was on improving college readiness in the Prince George's County school system through the development of a more rigorous curriculum and creation of a community support network for students, as well as facilitating better communication between the schools and parents of English as a Second Language and students with disabilities.

Murray, 20, of Bowie is an undergraduate economics major at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. He has served as a student member of the Maryland State Board of Education and as an educational liaison to former Prince George's County Councilman Tom Dernoga and state Sen. C. Anthony Muse. In 2010, the year he graduated from Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Greenbelt, he ran against Johnson, losing by approximately 1,000 votes.

Murray has proposed reviewing the school system policy of specialty school busing in light of the costs, while at the same time making specialty programs available at more schools. Murray believes that underenrolled schools need to be consolidated to better allocate system resources and believes the school system's administrative offices could be further streamlined to lessen cuts to classrooms.

Another of Murray's priorities is to make school board business more open and transparent to the general public, in particular by making the components of the school system’s $1.6 billion operating budget more accessible and understandable.