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Meet the BOE Candidate: Olga Butler

The Elkridge resident and Wilde Lake High School graduate said healthy relationships are key.

There’s a time and a place to talk about “adult issues,” and it’s not at the Board of Education, according to Olga Butler. 

The Elkridge resident is one of 15 candidates running for a seat on the Howard County school board, and in her pitch to the Greater Elkridge Community Association (GECA) at its recent meeting, she led with this idea.

“The school board currently … gets involved with a little more adult issues than kid issues,” said Butler at the Jan. 26 GECA meeting, alluding to what blogsnewspapers and the County Executive have termed "dysfunctional" behavior on the board.

Butler said she would bring something different to the table.

“I think what’s important is building healthy relationships … being visible [and] being accountable to our children first—the school board is for our kids, after all; that is our main concern,” said Butler in an interview with Elkridge Patch following the GECA meeting.

Butler has worked on behalf of children as a human services professional for a decade.

She's also the mother of a Long Reach High School sophomore and a product of the Howard County Public School System.

Butler grew up in Columbia and after graduating from Wilde Lake High School in 1994, she went on to receive her bachelor’s degree in communication from the University of Maryland.

Since getting her degree, “I’ve spent the better part of 10 years working with children,” Butler said. Her employers include the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention, the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services and the Domestic Violence Coordinating Council, to name a few.

“Working with [children and domestic violence victims] allowed me to understand why there might be an achievement gap,” Butler said. “It’s social, it’s economic, it’s cultural…”

Wanting to be more involved in her son’s school, she found opportunties to be of service at Long Reach.

“When he started ninth grade … I wanted to see what was going on,” said Butler of her son, CJ, who is in the class of 2014. “I started going to school board meetings and I became part of the of the interscholastic advisory board.”

Now in her first year as president of the Long Reach High School Boosters Club, she has broadened the scope of what that club does.

“Prior to [this year], we did not open concessions for all events," said Butler. "To support the entire student body, we opened concessions for everything from dance to theater and plays to wrestling matches. We are there to assist the teachers if they’re having events. We support more than athletics—we support academic programs, we’ve helped with the literary program … overall, we’re more visible in our school.”

Her son plays travel soccer for the Western Howard County Thunder and as a result, Butler became interested in coaching policies within the school system. Then she became interested in how other policies were handled.

Watching the school board over the past year is what Butler said compelled her to want to run in the election.

“I’ve spent a lot of time observing and listening, listening to what other people were testifying and the board’s reaction,” Butler said.

“The common thread there was that no one was really listening and no one was really paying attention to what was happening to make accurate and effective decisions for the next year,” Butler said.

“If somebody has to make a decision [and] make an assessment, they need parents, students and teachers—they are the soldiers in the front really,” Butler said, “and the school board should listen, [and] the superintendent should listen.”

She said she saw value in seeing issues firsthand, like overcrowding in Elkridge.

“It would be nice if the board and superintendent … would be able to look in our neighborhoods and see what’s happening here,” said Butler, who is secretary of the Willowood Homeowner’s Association in Elkridge. She said she sees five buses pick up students from her neighborhood to go to Bellows Spring Elementary School each day.

“The issues in Elkridge are unique,” said Butler. “I didn’t necessarily expect [the board] to understand overcrowding and appreciate that this is an issue. When you live it, when I see how many kids are going to Bellows, when I see how many kids have to go to Mayfield, then…it’s just a lot, and I realize that one person on the board … brings a perspective on behalf of the community.”

Robert Rhodes February 29, 2012 at 11:09 PM
Oh Jack, you hater of all things HCPSS. You hate the Superintendent, Dr. Cousin. You hate the Deputy Superientdent, Mrs. Perkins. You especially hate the Chief Academic Officer, Mrs. Wise (though I wonder if some of that hate stems in part from her tenure as Principal of your kids' high school). You hate the Administrative Directors, Mr, Bruzga and Mr. Michaels. You hate most if not all HCPSS Principals and Assistant Principals (again, special hate goes to the principals of the schools your kids attend(ed)). You hate at least four of the eight Board Members; Mr. Aquino, Mrs. Giles, Dr. Siddiqui, and Mrs. French (and, I suspect, you now hate Mr Meshkin because he doesn't vote in lock step with your guru, Mr. Dyer). You hate the General Counsel, Mr. Blom. And, you cast a wide net of hate across the Central Office hating anyone in a position of leadership. So, I gotta ask, Jack, who do you love, man, who do you love?
Ann Delacy March 01, 2012 at 02:20 AM
I think Jack loves honesty and transparency, Robert. I have been reading Patch for a while and have never read "hate" in anything Jack has written. It appears that he has had some negative experiences with HCPSS and you are blasting him for not sharing your opinions. What do you like?
Robert Rhodes March 01, 2012 at 05:44 PM
Ann, as a current candidate for School Board, you have too much skin in the game to even engage you in honest dialogue about Jack and all the ways he chooses to lash out at the HCPSS in general, and staff, including almost all leaders and many teachers with whom he has tussled, in particular. Come back once your politician's hat is off.
Robert Rhodes March 01, 2012 at 05:50 PM
Ann, as former President of the Teachers' Union and current political candidate, how do you respond to one of Jack's recent postings? Could you support the firing of over 460 teachers (source is HCPSS website profile...Our Staff 2011-12 - 4,646 teachers) as Jack requests? Would that support get you the endorsement of that same teacher's union? "pamythompson at 4:39 PM February 24, 2012 French's resignation would do a lot to setting the hcpss in the right direction. Followed by term limits for BOE effective prior to the next primary, the immediate resignation of the superintendent, a complete overhaul of the administration of the hcpss with the removal of about 50% of their staff including significant pay cuts for the rest, removal of the bottom 10% of our teaching staff, the replacement of the PTA with a parent coalition which can manage to attract more then a dozen people to their meetings and finally the inclusion and oversight of the public. This is not about the BOE's behavior. This is about the failure of the hcpss to educate our children effectively. What we witnessed was a breakdown on every level of our education system. It was nice to hear from the teachers union and the PTA however these groups are part of the system and part of the problem. It is time for a complete overhaul of a bloated, self serving system."
Jack March 01, 2012 at 10:50 PM
Robert do you really believe it is possible to tie everyone and everything which opposes any part of the current status of the hcpss together in an intelligent argument to justify it's current existence? Do you believe continuing the system's practice of attacking those who find fault in the system benefits any child? To make the blind assumption those who seek change and improvement in the system are somehow linked is quite foolish. I believe the teachers should do a much better job of maintaining quality in their field and if they do not and the standard of public education has deminished to a point where it is nothing better then assembly line production then we can hire our unemployed college graduates for $10 per hour without benefits and place teaching teams in each classroom for less then a union teacher and increase production. Looks like I can care less about union support doesn't it? Again Robert as I have told you many times neither you nor I matter and the public will elect the best candidates avaliable. Your goal is to maintain the status quo while my objective is to move the system in a positive direction by opening it to the public.

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