Two parent advocates from Silver Spring advance in Montgomery school board race

Two parent advocates from Silver Spring will face off in the November general election for an at-large seat on the Montgomery County Board of Education, following their primary victories Tuesday.

Jill Ortman-Fouse, 50, and Shebra Evans, 42, emerged as the top two vote-getters from a field of four candidates in the nonpartisan race. Both have held PTA leadership roles and other education-related posts. Both have children in Montgomery’s public schools.

According to unofficial election results, Ortman-Fouse came away with 33.94 percent of the vote, and Evans drew 31.48 percent. In all, more than 78,500 Montgomery County voters cast ballots in the school board race.

In an interview Wednesday, Ortman-Fouse, who works as an organizational development consultant, said she was tracking the results through the night and was heartened by the support she received.

“I really want to restore public trust in the Board of Education and foster accountability and transparency,” she said, noting that she would continue to stress the importance of expanding opportunities for community input, so that “more residents can be part of the solution.”

Evans, a stay-home parent who previously worked in finance, also said she was grateful for voters’ support and looking forward to the next stage of the campaign.

“I’m excited about the opportunity we’ll have to keep pushing the message about closing the achievement gap, expanding community partnerships and adding more career education,” she said.

The two candidates who were unsuccessful in Tuesday’s primary were Edward Amatetti, 55, a former teacher who works in finance, and Merry Eisner-Heidorn, 56, a parent advocate who has held PTA leadership positions and works in marketing and operations for a trade e-newsletter.

Amatetti, of North Potomac, garnered 20.66 percent of the vote, and Eisner-Heidorn, of Potomac, drew 13.92 percent.

In an interview Thursday, Amatetti said he while “it’s more fun to win,” he was happy with the result and believed he influenced the conversation about issues of importance. He said he planned to stay involved and run again.

“I know I got people thinking of the achievement gap very differently,” he said. Amatetti had argued that he and other teachers had been able to close the performance gap in their classrooms and that success would take those kinds of efforts, rather than top-down programs.

Eisner-Heidorn said Wednesday that she, too, would continue her advocacy and that she ran “to ensure certain issues were part of the conversation,” including accountability, transparency, community engagement, high school start times and meeting the needs of the county’s diverse student population.

“I am honored, truly honored, to have had nearly 11,000 people across the county vote for me,” she said.

Donna St. George writes about education, with an emphasis on Montgomery County schools.
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