Thursday, Jan. 31, 2008

Former teacher hopes to bring inside experience

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When he taught a criminal justice class at the Frederick County Career and Technology Center, Ron Bird had first-hand experience with poor student discipline and dwindling parent involvement, he says.

Now a candidate in the Frederick County primary election for the Board of Education, Bird said his experience as a teacher helped him understand what the school board should be concerned with.

‘‘I have been very active in the Frederick County Teachers Association,” said Bird, 63, who taught for 13 years in Frederick County before retiring in February 2007. ‘‘Some of the things I saw were constant battles and confrontations. ... We need somebody who can make a smoother connection between the Board of Education and teachers.”

Bird is one of 12 candidates in the primary; six will proceed to the general election in November to compete for three open seats on the Board of Education.

The Frederick resident has run several unsuccessful races for office in recent years — for the Frederick Board of County Commissioners in 2006, for the state House of Delegates in 2002, and for the state Senate in 1998.

This time, he feels his experience as a teacher, his Hood College training in school administration, and his background as a police officer and retired U.S. Army reservist, will help him bring a unique perspective to the Frederick County Board of Education.

‘‘I offer an insider perspective,” he said. ‘‘I think that’s a real advantage. ... I have the ability to work with people, to make compromises.”

Bird said he would push to increase student discipline and parent involvement, especially when it comes to students in higher grade levels.

‘‘In high school you don’t get as much parent involvement,” he said. ‘‘One thing that we encouraged is contacting the parents when the student is doing good. That way they know the teacher is involved, too.”

In terms of new school construction, he supports the work the board has done so far to accommodate the county’s growing student population. However, Bird does not really support the school system’s plans for a brand-new central office building in downtown Frederick.

‘‘I don’t agree with spending money unless it’s absolutely necessary,” he said.

Ultimately, Bird would like to see the Frederick County Board of Education have its own taxing authority, similar to some school systems in Pennsylvania. That would allow board to generate its own revenue, he said.

Ron Bird

Age: 63

Residence: Frederick

Family: Married for 41 years; two grown children; five grandchildren

Professional background: Retired. Taught criminal justice at the Frederick County Career and Technology Center for 13 years. Worked as a police officer in Montgomery County.

Education: Bachelor’s degree in Law Enforcement from University of Maryland; master’s degree in administrative management from Hood College.

E-mail: csmbird@comcast.net