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.”