O’Neill Files To Run For Sixth Term on Montgomery County School Board

Bethesda resident could become longest-serving school board member in county history

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Pat O'Neill is running for her sixth term on the Montgomery County Board of Education.

Pat O'Neill's Facebook page

School board member Pat O’Neill is running for election to her sixth term, potentially positioning her to occupy the post longer than anyone else in Montgomery County history.

O’Neill, a former leader in local parent-teacher associations, began serving on the Montgomery County Board of Education in 1998. She has spent more time on the county school board than anyone except Blair Ewing, who held the post for 22 years beginning in 1976, and would break his record if she completes one more term.

O’Neill is the first incumbent to publicly state her intentions for the 2018 election. Of the seven seats on the board, three other seats besides O’Neill’s will be on the ballot. Those three incumbents—Michael Durso, Judy Docca and Jill Ortman-Fouse–could not immediately be reached for comment on Thursday.

O’Neill and her husband both graduated from Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda in 1968 and brought up their two daughters in the Montgomery County Public Schools system, according to a press release.

She said she’s running for re-election in District 3, which covers parts of southern Montgomery County, including Bethesda, Kensington and Chevy Chase.

“I want to continue the work that I’ve done. I believe I have a great institutional knowledge and a demonstrated commitment to our county schools,” she said in a phone interview.

O’Neill, of Bethesda, filed her candidacy with the Maryland State Board of Elections on Thursday.

If she returns to office, O’Neill said she’d continue working to close education achievement gaps and adjust to the county’s “explosive growth.” Education officials will have to form strategies for stretching limited money to address school overcrowding and aging buildings in coming years, she added.

MCPS also should focus more on career and technology education and look at expanding foreign language programs to more elementary schools, she said.

O’Neill, 67, has served as the president and vice president of the school board during her 19-year tenure and has held leadership posts in the Maryland Association of Boards of Education.

She has won the MABE Charles Willis Award for outstanding school board service was named one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in the D.C. area by Washingtonian magazine in 2015.

Bethany Rodgers can be reached at bethany.rodgers@bethesdamagazine.com.

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