Voters To Choose Three for School Board
Candidates running in Districts 2 and 4, plus for at-large seat
School board candidates at a late September forum.
Voters on Tuesday will pick three members of the seven-member Montgomery County Board of Education. Although the candidates must reside in the districts they represent, they run at large and all voters can cast ballots in all three nonpartisan races.
Races for one at-large seat, and seats representing for Districts 2 and 4 will be decided on Election Day. The four other seats on the board will be up for re-election in two years. Incumbents are running in the at-large and District 2 races. District 4 is open because school board member Christopher Barclay chose not to run again.
Dixon, who lives in Silver Spring, is a former Montgomery County Public Schools administrator who served as the principal of White Oak Middle School and Paint Branch High School in Silver Spring.
Dixon says she wants the county to provide a world-class education for all students. She believes in transparency and responsiveness, including a timely posting of all of the school district's reports and audits. She wants to reduce class sizes and favors zero-based budgeting.
She also wants to limit student testing so that teachers have time to teach, plan, reflect and collaborate with fellow teachers. She wants to hire more counselors. And she believes the school system should work to eliminate the achievement gap with greater urgency.
At a candidates’ forum in September, she suggested the school board should have its own budget analyst instead of the analysts provided by MCPS.
During the April 26 primary, Dixon was the top vote getter, garnering more votes than her opponent, incumbent Phil Kauffman. Dixon received 51,316 votes, or more than 31 percent, while Kauffman received 45,570 votes, or nearly 28 percent of the votes cast.
Kauffman, who lives in Olney, was elected to the school board in 2008, and served as the board’s vice president in 2013 and president in 2014. He chairs the board’s Fiscal Management Committee and is a member of the Policy Management Committee. A retired government attorney, Kauffman graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, and received his law degree from the University of Maryland.
He believes in transparent accounting for the school system's $2.4 billion budget. The school system needs new classrooms, and revitalization and maintenance must remain on schedule, he says. The achievement gap must be closed, he says.
He says he supports the rigor of Common Core, a set of English and mathematics benchmarks for kindergarten through high school. He did say he is concerned that MCPS hasn't mastered the development of assessments for Common Core testing. He says MCPS must do better with providing job preparation programs for students who are interested in career opportunities upon graduation.
Kauffman also says he wants to see more collaboration between the school superintendent and the board before the budget process begins.
First elected to the school board in 2012, Smondrowski chairs the board's Committee on Special Populations and is a member of the Policy Management Committee.
Before joining the board, Smondrowski was a legislative aide for state Sen. Roger Manno and was an active local and county PTA leader. She has served on the Montgomery County Council of Parent-Teacher Association's (MCCPTA) Board of Directors.
A Gaithersburg resident, Smondrowski believes county schools must continue to provide a world-class education to every child. She says county students must be prepared for the workplace of the 21st century, and that the county must work together to address the needs of the district's ever-changing student population.
A lifelong county resident, Rippeon of Darnestown says he is a financial trustee to more than 10,000 clients. He has run unsuccessfully as a Republican for U.S. Congress and the County Council.
He believes in raising academic standards, achieving budget transparency and holding open meetings. He would expand internship and vocational training programs for students. He says he would engage the county executive and the council to address non-educational issues that affect MCPS.
He has criticized the current MCPS budget as unsustainable.
He serves on the board of the Montgomery County Public Libraries. He attended Darnestown Elementary School and graduated from the Bullis School, Rollins College of Winter Park, Florida, and The American University of Paris.
Evans, a financial analyst who is active with the county PTA, says she wants to expand community partnerships to support county schools and students, increase outreach for family engagement and involvement, and advocate for more enrichment opportunities.
At a candidates’ forum, the Silver Spring resident called for multiyear budgeting for MCPS. On her website, she said she wants to build urgency around closing the achievement gap, create more opportunities for career education and continue to invest in professional development for teachers and supporting staff.
Evans said she wants to promote effective MCPS initiatives; ensure students, teachers, and staff have safe and modern facilities to meet the needs of an expanding student population; and to continue to provide fiscally responsible budgets that promote equity in the distribution and allocation of resources.
Phukan, an auditor from Silver Spring, attended Montgomery Blair High School. At a candidates’ forum, she said the school board needed more representation at the county level at every meeting, not only when county schools are on the agenda.
Phukan’s website says she favors encouraging healthy students. She says she supports addiction recovery support for students, parents, and staff; healthy food and wellness programs in schools; and safe and healthy buildings.
She says she supports magnet programs; healthy sports; bilingual, study abroad, and immersion programs; and schools being open to student-led learning.
Phukan has said she would call for audits of the school system and provide public access to those audits.