Fazz­ino pre­pares to take seat on school board



— Though he ran un­op­posed in Tues­day’s gen­eral elec­tion, Jim Fazz­ino has kept busy over the last few months pre­par­ing for his new role as a school board mem­ber.

Fazz­ino, a Bal­ti­more County e-learn­ing su­per­vi­sor, was the top vote-get­ter in a three-way pri­mary for the Dis­trict 2 seat in April, beat­ing out both Erin Do­or­dan and Ron Lo­bos. He was set to face Do­or­dan in the gen­eral elec­tion but she dropped out of the race in July, leav­ing him the sole name on the bal­lot.

Since then, Fazz­ino has con­tin­ued vis­it­ing schools around the county (he’s


vis­ited close to 20 so far), at­tend­ing board meet­ings and study­ing both the Code of Mary­land An­no­tated Reg­u­la­tions (COMAR) and the school bud­get.

“I wanted to have high ex­pec­ta­tions for my­self in this role and to lend value to the board,” Fazz­ino told the Whig last week. “To do that, I re­ally felt like I had to un­der­stand the in­tri­ca­cies of the re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of the role, un­der­stand the sys­tem that we are re­spon­si­ble for and most im­por­tantly un­der­stand the kids we ser­vice and the com­mu­nity that looks to us as a con­stant bea­con of hope, which is what ed­u­ca­tion re­ally is.”

Fazz­ino is also mak­ing plans to stay in touch with the com­mu­nity be­yond Elec­tion Day. He’s been ac­tive on social media dur­ing the cam­paign, par­tic­u­larly through his Face­book page, and plans to con­tinue with that go­ing for­ward. Fazz­ino also wants to find other ways to reach out to var­i­ous facets of the com­mu­nity in­clud­ing fam­i­lies, busi­nesses, law en­force­ment and the schools them­selves to so­licit feed­back and find ways to work to­gether.

“You can’t do it alone. It takes an en­tire com­mu­nity to raise a child,” he said. “The more that we work to­gether, the stronger we’re go­ing to be as Cecil Coun­tians.”

Fazz­ino has also been stay­ing abreast of on­go­ing ed­u­ca­tion is­sues that he will have to tackle as a mem­ber of the Board of Ed­u­ca­tion. That in­cludes the school sys­tem’s on­go­ing at­tempts to tackle its de­ferred main­te­nance, which is pro­jected to ap­proach $50 mil­lion this year.

While many of the schools are older, Fazz­ino said CCPS needs to pri­or­i­tize its needs based on whether fa­cil­i­ties are im­pact­ing in­struc­tion or whether there’s a safety or en­vi­ron­men­tal con­cern.

“I would hope I would never have to send ei­ther of my kids into a class­room where they’d have to con­tinue to wear their coats,” said Fazz­ino, who has twins in first grade at CCPS.

Fazz­ino also has some con­cerns about Gov. Larry Ho­gan’s man­date that all schools start af­ter La­bor Day and end before June 15. While Fazz­ino said he rec­og­nizes that the board is re­quired to fol­low the or­der, he wor­ries about how the man­date will im­pact test­ing. With the start date moved up, stu­dents may lose some in­struc­tion time in the run up to as­sess­ments such as PARCC, the SAT and Ad­vanced Place­ment tests, he noted.

While he’s hope­ful the cal­en­dar won’t be im­pacted by weather and that CCPS will still be able to fit in 180 days of in­struc­tion, Fazz­ino said com­mu­ni­ca­tion will be key. If it seems like the new man­date could neg­a­tively im­pact stu­dents, the board needs to be ac­tive in talk­ing about its con­cerns both at the lo­cal level and at the state level, he said.

But as he pre­pares to take his seat on the school board in De­cem­ber, Fazz­ino said he’s still re­flect­ing on just how much he’s learned and ex­pe­ri­enced since declar­ing for the school board in Fe­bru­ary.

“It has been a truly won­der­ful jour­ney,” he said. “It’s just some­thing that I never ex­pected to come across in my life and it’s been truly a life-chang­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for me.”


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