Three newcomers are challenging the Prince George’s County school board chairman to represent constituents in District 5.
Raaheela Ahmed, 18, of Bowie, and Deidre N. Jackson, 42, and Sherine Taylor, 35, both of Upper Marlboro, are vying to replace Jeana Jacobs, 44, of Bowie, who has served six years on the board.
The top two vote-getters in the nonpartisan primary election will run against each other in November.
A fifth candidate, Sharon Theodore-Lewis of Mitchellville, recently suspended her campaign for personal reasons. Theodore-Lewis’s name will still appear on the April 3 ballot because her suspension came after the official date to withdraw. Theodore-Lewis has announced her support to Jackson.
Ahmed, a student at the University of Maryland-College Park and the chief executive of an online platform, said she entered the race because of her experience in the public school system. “I feel like I have a good understanding of what works well and what doesn’t,” Ahmed said.
Ahmed said the system has done a “pretty good job” preparing some students for college with its offering of advance placement courses. But she said she is concerned that all students are not prepared for their future, especially those who might not attend college. She wants more internships and special programs in the system.
Taylor, a human resources specialist, said if she is elected to the board she will push for a more “user friendly budget report.” She said parents should be able to know what is being spent on different programs. She also wants to give teachers a pay increase, she said.
Taylor describes getting parents mobilized as one of the system’s biggest challenges.
“We have to find new ways to bring them back into the system,” she said.
Jackson did not return a phone call and an e-mail seeking comment.
Jacobs, an attorney, said the system needs stability and that her candidacy brings that to the table. “Continuity is important,” she said. “The work is not done yet.”
If elected, Jacobs said she would like to see the board receive more training and become more focused on policy.
Ahmed and Jacobs said the biggest challenge facing the system is the budget. Jacobs said the hurdle is ensuring that all services are provided to students while also trying to attract and retain the best and the brightest teachers. Ahmed said the board, which does not have the ability to raise funds, must find creative ways to spend what is allocated to it.
Jacobs said she also thinks that teacher performance should be weighed next to student performance.