Voters in District B, which includes Fallston and Joppa, will have three school board candidates to choose from in the June primary election. However, only candidate Laura Runyeon provided responses to The Dagger’s three questions for the candidates.
Candidate Greg Johnson was willing to answer the questions, but he missed the deadline for publication. Incumbent school board member Bob Frisch said that he would not answer the questions.
As a reminder, the top two vote-getters in the June primary election will appear on the November ballot. The school board elections are non-partisan, meaning that voters do not need to be registered with a political party to vote in the primary for their school board representative.
Mrs. Runyeon’s Q & A with The Dagger appears below:
Dagger: School board members often make decisions in areas where they may not have expertise, such as curriculum, facilities or the budget. Briefly describe the experience/skills you would bring to the school board and how you make decisions in areas outside your expertise.
I believe that I have a unique perspective as a parent and a community leader. I have had the fortune to be an active participant inside the schools and classrooms as a parent, PTA leader and school improvement team member for several years. In that capacity, I have had the opportunity to see how decisions that are made at the Board level impact the students and teachers in the classroom. These experiences and my relationships with other parents, teachers, PTA leaders and administrators, as well as my active participation in Board of Education meetings, inform my understanding in many of these areas.
When faced with a new challenge, my instinct is to always do my own research. I believe that Board members are charged with doing their own due diligence, so that they are not just relying on the information provided to them by internal parties, but have had the opportunity to develop their own informed perspective. As an example, as the PTA President at Youth’s Benefit, I needed to learn how school construction funding worked on both the local and state level. I spent countless hours researching the Maryland Public School Construction Program, including reading their manual, having phone conversations with members of the school construction program, attending meetings of the state funding source (the InterAgency Committee and the Board of Public Works), meeting with local county council members, state delegates and the county executive and his team. I also reviewed the BOE Capital Project Lists, the InterAgency Committee capital recommendations and county budgets. It was essential to our efforts that we fully understood the funding mechanisms for school construction. I continue to monitor current proposed legislation that may impact our opportunities to maximize school construction funding for Harford County schools. As a member of the Board of Education, I would bring this approach to any decisions that I would need to make.
Dagger: Please cite a previous decision by the Harford County Board of Education with which you either strongly agree or disagree, and why.
I strongly disagree with the decision that the Board made last year to create depot stops for the magnet programs, create 4th tier schools and change transportation available to students. While I recognize that the decision was made in an effort to find cost saving measures that wouldn’t impact the classroom, I believe that proposing the changes and passing them in the same meeting, without stakeholder input or fully vetting the consequences of these changes was a mistake. Good education creates opportunities for our students and community and decisions that limit access to education or create an undue hardship on working parents to provide access to education for their children are bad decisions.
The consequence of this decision, according to recent testimony of internal staff, is much harder to unwind than it was to create. There was no apparent plan in place as to how to deal with magnet students in the case of late openings or early closings. The changes affected the early dismissal schedule for all elementary students. It was already a challenge to provide significant classroom instruction on early dismissal days, now there is even less time to do so. Establishing 4th tier elementary schools created scheduling difficulties for many working families. In my opinion, the Board should have invested more time understanding what consequences this decision would create and allowing stakeholders to weigh in before any final decision was made. Ultimately, I don’t believe the benefits justified the costs to families.
Dagger: Maryland school boards are charged with certain responsibilities. Among them are: Hiring the superintendent, setting capital and operating budget priorities, determining school attendance boundaries, and formulating school policies. Looking ahead, what issues within the board’s purview are of specific interest or concern to you and why? Please cite two issues.
The issues that are most important to me as a Board member are setting budget priorities and formulating school policies. I recognize that the budget issues are among the most challenging that Board members face, but I also recognize that it is essential to the success of our school system and students to maximize funding and utilize our resources wisely. I believe that we must continue to limit class sizes, sufficiently fund technology, retain highly qualified and compensated teachers, provide sufficient professional development for teachers and adequate instructional resources, while continuing to meet the needs of our students at every level of the spectrum. In order to prevent further cuts that impact class size and instruction, we must find ways to improve efficiencies with other government agencies, eliminate duplicative expenses, carefully review expenses and work collaboratively with all funding decision makers. Providing sufficient resources to students with the same or less funding is clearly a challenging prospect, but I believe that with collaborative relationships among the school system, the Board and the funding authorities, we can meet these needs. I have had the opportunity to work collaboratively with the Board, the county council and the county executive and I believe that these goals can be achieved.
I also believe that we must continue to invest in our physical facilities. As a County, we must find a way to address our aging school facilities. We have 54 school facilities in Harford County, with an average life of 50 years. We must evaluate and update these facilities and we can if we continue demand adequate state participation and develop a sensible approach to systemic renovations or replacement facilities for these buildings. It is important that we push for the results of the county-wide evaluation of our school facilities so that we have a true evaluation of our school buildings. Our reluctance to commit funds for construction projects ultimately costs taxpayers more. Delays often result in increases in constructions costs, while also requiring us to bear the burden of maintenance costs for these aging buildings.
I am interested in school policies that have a direct impact on classroom instruction, such as, setting the policies for Gifted and Talented instruction, middle school grouping, and curriculum offerings on the high school level. We must be sure that the policies that we put in place benefit students at every level and also support their teachers. We need to provide students with both the curriculum and the resources and tools to effectively utilize the curriculum that is presented. I am also deeply committed to ensuring that parents are provided every opportunity to be involved in and apprised of the decisions that impact their children.
Mrs. Runyeon has been an active member of the PTA since 2005 and has served as President of Youth’s Benefit Elementary School PTA since 2011. She has served as a parent representative on the School Improvement Team at Youth’s Benefit since 2010. In 2012 she was selected as one of ten PTA representatives nationwide to attend the National PTA Grassroots Advocacy Training. Subsequently, she developed and implemented an Advocacy training module for Harford County PTA officers. She has participated in several meetings and roundtable discussions surrounding the Common Core standards, as well as education roundtables in Harford County. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Business, with a minor in Finance from Notre Dame of Maryland University. Mrs. Runyeon has been a paralegal specializing in large commercial finance transactions and commercial foreclosures at Miles & Stockbridge P.C., a regional law firm, since 1987.
Poor Richard says
I am very disappointed to see that Mr. Frisch refused to answer the Dagger’s questions. I think he is passionate about Harford County and the future of the school system, however, refusing to answer the questions does not make you look good. Whether a candidate likes the news site or not, it is a political mistake to refuse to answer its questions, which could come back to haunt a candidate come election time. I hope Mr. Frisch changes his mind and submits something.
Having watched the idiocy of this group, it may also be seen as a sign of intelligence that he did not choose to wallow in the mud. He may be the brightest one here.
Frisch can’t handle the pressure. He doesn’t want anything documented because he lies.
Mrs. Runyeon’s answers are meaningful and sensical. She most definitely has spent a great deal of her own personal time involved in the betterment of Harford County Public Schools. I think she’d be a great school board member!
This message brought to you be Ms. Runyeon.
Runyeon’s the only one with a brain!
Maybe the beating of the Build it NOW drum has left Ms Runyeon deaf. She proposes a lot of lofty goals with no thought to funding. If she is involved as she would like us to think, then it’s pure rhetoric to have such a laundry list and absolutely no funding solution. Shame on you.
Well Mr. (or Ms. Reality): the only “reality” we are faced with is that Ms. Runyeon’s thoughtful, organized and insightful answers are above; while the spineless Mr. Frisch’s answers are nowhere to be found. Combine that with the “reality” of Frisch’s 4 year term of destructive sneakiness, and the choice for school board member for district B is “real” clear.
Is that “L” for Laura? I think so.
Frisch rarely votes without explaining it to everyone during the meeting. Secondly Frisch returns e-mails from individuals and constituents in a timely fashion. I think what scares some people is he lives in 21085 and not Fallston.
what scares people is that he can’t be trusted
from here says
Reality: well, the inmates have finally taken over the asylum. How can you say “shame on you” to Ms. Runyeon????? The “shame” is on Frisch for not having the guts to answer the questions. The “shame” is on Frisch for hoping that he can slap up a few yards signs and that no one examines his positions or track record.
Yes, I believe SHAME ON YOU is in order. I would love to have a serious candidate step forward. Instead we get two non-responses and a list that anyone even remotely connected to the school system knows is pure fertilizer. Runyon writes:
” we must continue to limit class sizes, sufficiently fund technology, retain highly qualified and compensated teachers, provide sufficient professional development for teachers and adequate instructional resources, while continuing to meet the needs of our students at every level of the spectrum”
She forgot free candy at lunchtime and no homework Fridays. This level of FLUFF is perpetuates why we are where we are. The school system gave ANY concerned party a chance to use the budget tool to present a BALANCED budget. Any fool can (and has) written a pie in the sky list that has no basis in reality. I welcome a responsible & honest comment from the candidates on how they would handle the budget THIS year. The current BOE may have made some unpopular decisions but it’s a disservice to our children and our county to just say that the issue is just about getting along. That’s an insulting spin from someone who is supposedly informed. There is not enough money… What will you cut? How hard would it have been for the Dagger to include this Q?
Reality: don’t be so naive. the necessary prerequisites that a board member must possess, and for solutions to be found are constructiveness, the TRUST of others, and the confidence to be open-minded enough to collaborate with all stakeholders. I’ve seen both Frisch and Runyeon in action, extensively. On all of the above counts Frisch gets an F, and Runyeon get a B+.
Very true. Especially in light of the fact that cuts will be coming again I would like all the candidates to say what it is they would cut.
It will be a sad day if Frisch returns. Love him waving at people on the side of the road, trying to get votes. All so mindless. Wasn’t he appointed, not elected? How familiar is he with District B, if he was redistricted into Fallston, an area he’s unfamiliar with. All completely wrong.
As a Harford County native, tired and disgusted with these politicians. Fallston -the whole county – needs to return to a level of competency. It did exist at one time! The current lot can’t handle it! Harford’s Education system is in the dumps. How proud are you of that?
(btw: Runyeon actually DOES work hard)
Plato said it best about Bob Frisch: “We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”
Ah… That would be “R” for Runyeon. That’s too funny!
oh cmon says
observer: you don’t seem like you’re laughing
Ron the republican says
Well said R (and Plato). I have another pithy quote for Mr.Frisch:
“Lying is done with words, and also with silence.” – Adrienne Rich
I think it takes a lot of nerve for Mrs. Runyon to stomp her feet and demand a new school when I’m working two jobs and about to loose my home.
hopefully you’re not a grammar or spelling teacher
Attending the job fair says
If we continue to let other counties cherry pick our best teachers we would get whatever is left. Too many more years without honoring contracts and you may be looking at your very best spelling and grammar teacher there.
Maybe we could finally get some teachers who understand that a contract is a binding agreement, not a sloppy wet kiss from the BOE – which is nothing more than a Mall Santa. Besides, Lincoln learned to spell writing with a piece of chalk on the back of a coal shovel – the teacher having been paid with an odd farm chicken.
If we want to start handing out respect in this county, it should start with every government employee seeking out a private sector employee and thanking them for still being here. They should thank them for continuing to stay and pay while not having a pension or a first class medical program. The private sector employee understands how bad things are. They know they could lose their jobs at any moment. So, you know, a little gratitude from the government would be nice. But they will not hold their breath.
I will start by thanking my former students, although many will say I need to be thanking you!
You pay crap…you can’t be picky. You want better you need to compete in the free market. Currently you are not paying market rates!
We have seen the market Burbey has in mind: his template is Allegany County where they wallow in 16% poverty at the same time the teachers rake in three times the per capita income with astronomical benefits.
Teachers in Maryland simply do not want to suffer the consequences of their own poor judgment. They put a regime into power in Annapolis whose concept of governance is to the left of Pol Pot and hope to escape the results by getting in on the tail end of the tax rape.
That is one possibility. Look at our border. Baltimore County doesn’t have that problem!
What difference does it make what you pay? There are always enough warm bodies with an education degree, a sense of purpose, and a teaching certificate to baby sit for a year or two until they get a real job. From what I’ve seen of recent public high school graduates, there isn’t a whole lot of educating going on. Few of them can spell or add or think, although they all feel real good about themselves as human beings. Pay minimum wage to the teachers and give the education facilitators and diversity specialists $150K a year.
so let me get this straight……. Laura answers the questions (quite well, I might add) while Frisch arrogantly weasels out of it. Then one of his Frisch’s minions denigrates Laura with a “shame on you”.
That’s all one needs to know about the difference between Runyeon and Frisch.
Grow up Bob!
Is your sense of outrage and disdain the same for those that denigrate Frisch?
the best way to denigrate Frisch is to expose people what he really is all about. That way, Frisch will be responsible for his own denigration. And since when is “the truth” considered denigration?????
Help me bail water out of the sinking ship says
Kids learn the same in an old school as compared to a new school.
Let’s cut some waste first, as example, do we really need big full size stank cheese wagons transporting 10 students? Why wouldn’t a passenger van work? You could even outfit them with the goofy epileptic strobe light on the roof, yellow and red warning lights, the stop sign and goofy bar that comes out from the front.
Bus contractor’s won’t like it, its hard for them to close their wallets and with use of a less expensive, more efficienct transportation method as a Passenger van for those few students on a bus route, wallets are going to be getting lighter on pay day. Know what I mean?
Where’s your cost benefit analysis. A bigger bus is more efficient because it carries more kids. A smaller bus has the same costs in labor and fuel. And if you already own both of them, an unused bus is a money loser. Where do you project your savings to come from? Less air displaced?
Because 2 says
The maintenance costs on a school bus versus a passenger van, the replacement costs of the vehicle.
Price of diesel fuel versus gasoline.
Harford County only operates a small amount of school busses, private contractors are paid for their busses.
As you correctly note the contractor runs most of the buses and they bear the cost.
Kids don’t learn the same in an old building vs. new. Try teaching kids with learning disabilities in an open classroom with various distractions, try teaching kids today with today’s access to technology without technology available. Try having kids schedules interrupted because of rain buckets having to be placed in classrooms to catch the leaking roof, or the lack of restrooms due to an overload of the facilities. Let’s really consider what type of environment that we would like our children to be housed in while being taught their school lessons.
TELL ME SOMETHING NEW says
User, “S,” That’s called life, something those “students” will have to deal with someday on their own (Maybe? Not sure on that one?). If something is not absolutely perfect, the task at hand just can’t be done? Is that right? Yep. Hit the “reply” button, and tell me “how it is.”
Too many politically correct status quo agenda’s we deal with today. How did we all survive school without air conditioning, much less a 5 gallon bucket from Home Depot being placed somewhere in the classroom to catch water dripping from the ceiling? Oh mah gawd, that is some real world stuff.
Hey! We need to thank “S” for directing us not to send our children to schools with old buildings since they can’t learn there. I did find one that is really bad and needs to be avoided: it’s this dumb school called Harvard, which has one building built in 1720.
But still, we have to have sympathy for “S” since it must be hard walking to teach school up hill, both ways.
TELL ME SOMETHING NEW says
User “S,” please enlighten all of us as to which school the students in Harford County have a hard time due to their age, which I assume means poor performance in a teaching environment. I would like to see factual analytical numbers to back up this “claim,” and not someone’s personal complaint that their classroom door squeeks when they open it. There is something called a screw driver, and another product called WD-40. Roll up your sleeves and fix it yourself instead of asking everyone else to do it for you.
A Leaking roof doesn’t always imply age of construction, did you know a brand new building’s roof could leak the following day the job is completed?
Bob Frisch says
I have always appreciated the work Cindy Mumby has done informing the public about education issues in Harford County. I respectfully declined to submit answers to her questions because I did not believe the format and limited number of questions provided ample opportunity to fully respond to the many issues and challenges facing our school system. I certainly was not attempting to avoid public review. I believe anyone that truly knows me would tell you I will give people my honest opinion if asked, even if the answer is not necessarily what they wanted to hear, and I do not shy away from difficult discussions. If people are interested in my background and thorough explanation of my positions on the major issues facing our school system they can find that information on my website at http://www.BobFrisch.org or visit my FaceBook page under Bob Frisch. Thank you.
I believe you were asked Mr. Frisch via The Dagger and Cindy Mumby. At least Mrs. Runyeon answered the questions without directing us to her Facebook page or website.
Bro air teach says
You’re an idiot, he addressed that in his comment. The responses by the candidate in this article is political BS at its finest.
bro air teach (and i hope you are not a real teacher, because that would be pathetic): Despite the brilliant, mature, coherent rebuttal that you posted above, I must counsel you: Calm down. Grow up. Get real. He didn’t address that. He panicked when he realized how arrogant, insecure and stupid it was to not answer the questions. so he (disingenuously, as usual) backtracked. His reason didn’t even make sense…… which is what often happens when you make things up after the fact.
Ahh, free speech without the threat of getting punched in the face. Got to love it.
Again you pay poorly you can’t be picky about who you hire.
District B Voter says
The dagger, thank God, is not the only voter forum for information. I sent all three candidates, via e-mail, a list of questions, important to me, to help me decide who to vote for. I sent this out two weeks ago and only one candidate replied. It was Mr. Frisch. I didn’t like all of his answers but he took the time to answer them.
Laura Runyeon says
Dear District B Voter,
Thank you for letting me know that you did not receive a response from me. I apologize, but I do not have any record of receiving your email. Please try to email me your questions again and I will be happy to respond to them. My campaign email is: firstname.lastname@example.org. I am not aware of any issues with the email account, but I appreciate your bringing it to my attention. Please also feel free to send me a message on my Facebook page: runyeonforeducation and I will be happy to provide you with an alternate email. Thank you again.
Greg Johnson says
I didn’t get one either, Laura.
A vote for Frisch is a vote for an egotistical and self-centered fool. I wouldn’t vote for him to walk my dog. Although it is always fun to watch his body language at Board Meetings. You’d think he hadn’t discussed anything with his colleagues in advance of the meeting.
Why isn’t “frank” telling “E-I-E-I-O” to Grow up? Hmmmmmm.
BOE Watcher says
I am looking forward to meeting all the candidates at the BOE Candidate Forum on May 15, 7-9 pm in the Bel Air Middle School Cafeteria. I am certain no candidate will avoid this opportunity to discuss issues with the public.
Who is sponsoring this forum?
BOE Watcher says
Harford County Council PTA
What would Ms. Runyeon have cut to save money in place of the transportation cuts? The Board was in a position of making cuts and making them fast. The budget situation was such that they didn’t have alot of time. While seeking input is great there are sometimes you don’t have the time to hold a community meeting. What would she have cut instead?
I’m amazed at all the negative comments. New candidates should be embraced instead of beaten to a pulp in the forum of public opinion.
Let Me Help You With That Foot in Your Mouth says
I’m sure you meant to say “ALL candidates should be embrased””
You are aware that is the nature of running for and holding public office? While it would be wonderful to live in a world of rainbows and unicorns, we don’t! Someone will always be unhappy with any decision one makes and the dagger will always be there for them to voice that displeasure.
so true says
I think the post above by Alan probably said in best.
To: ???? says
If you can find one that hasn’t had to move back in with their parents because they can’t find a job, ask them how much more they are willing to pay in taxes so you can have a raise. Seems to me what we have here is you-didn’t-build-that hubris in full bloom.
Greg Johnson says
A parent in New Hampshire was just arrested for calmly speaking out at a local school board meeting about the reading material being assigned to his children. This is a perfect example of why I am running for School Board. Parents’ rights are a critical part of ensuring success in education. So are local control, standing up to state mandates, and honoring our commitment to teachers by trimming out unnecessary spending elsewhere in the budget.