Corey Andrews posted this on Facebook on 3/10/18:
Saif Rehman‘s Responses to the BOE Candidate Questionnaire:
1. What experiences do you have that qualify you to serve on the Board of Education?
As an engaged parent with three young children in Howard County Public School System (HCPSS), I’m prepared to provide the Board of Education experience and skilled organizational leadership. My successful, 25-year plus career in Information Technology includes many years running my own firm, NextGen Consulting. It’s been recognized by Inc. 500 and many other organizations as one of the best and fastest growing IT companies in America. My career also
includes extensive government consulting work, saving taxpayer dollars with efficient Information Technology solutions.
Today, in Howard County we face system-wide budget shortfalls. If elected, I’ll bring to the Board years of organizational management know-how and leadership in finance, budgeting and procurement. I’ll make a difference from day one, utilizing my background in managing tens of
thousands of consultants and getting the most out of budgets in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
The community needs Board members with the experience and leadership to guide us through the process of righting our fiscal ship and keeping our focus on the best educational experience for our young people. I am ready to have an immediate impact.
I see inequity as a fundamental issue in our schools, contributing to overcrowding and unequal access to resources and programs. This inequity has often resulted from poor budget decisions and failure to plan effectively. I have a deep commitment to open communication, equity and inclusion, vital qualities as we engage the entire community in moving forward in addressing the missteps of the past and preparing a bright future for Howard County education.
2. What role does a member of the Howard County Board of Education fill?
I believe that a board member should do the following:
➢ advocates for the best education possible for the families of Howard County, putting the student experience first.
➢ assures we have excellent budget management throughout the year with no waste.
➢ keeps the spotlight on equity in resources and facilities
➢ assures the budget reflects community priorities
➢ works closely with our educators, hears their concerns, and supports them with needed resources
➢ Maximizes transparency in process, procurement, and procedures so the community has confidence in their Board and school system
➢ gives every student and family a voice in every decision we make as a Board
➢ Making sure that the vibrant, diverse cultures of Howard County are all represented,
shared, and respected in our schools.
3. Have you ever attended a meeting of the Howard County Board of Education?
I have attended meetings in person, and thanks to the availability of online video, I have viewed each and every Board meeting on the HCPSS web site, often live. I am confident that I am updated and informed of all the Board’s public activities.
4. Numerous officials have indicated that the Howard County government will be facing a few difficult years ahead in budgeting and finance. How do you propose the Board of Education address these challenges?
The County and HCPSS each face painful and imminent financial challenges. The times call for experienced leaders committed to working with the community and the County to make our fiscal ends meet without compromising educational and other essential services. I am ready to provide leadership at this critical juncture. My successful career working with budgets of similar size and scope make me uniquely qualified to make the important and positive contributions we
The health and dental fund is running a deficit and I believe it must be faced squarely with the community grasping its implications. Cleaning up this mess requires decisive, experienced leaders who know how to scour the budget in detail to eliminate waste and to do so year-round,
not just at budget time. I will lead an honest and open community discussion to prioritize and adopt sound long-term plans to eliminate the deficit and prevent its recurrence. When difficult decisions are made and sacrifices required, I will hear every voice and remain open and transparent in the decision-making process.
But we won’t solve this problem shuffling around some numbers on a spreadsheet. We need to find new solutions, new sources of funding, and new ways of thinking to keep up with the everchanging pace of progress. We need Board members who understand technology, who can think outside the box, and who aren’t afraid to use counter-intuitive solutions to ever-present problems. My experience and expertise will bring those skills to the decision-making of the
Howard County Board of Education.
5. Based on the information available to you, briefly assess Dr. Martirano’s first year in office.
From what I have seen, I think he is engaged, has a grasp of the fundamental issues, is taking the leadership role needed for this position, and is keeping the community informed and
6. What does “equity” in education mean to you, and how should HCPSS achieve it?
As an immigrant who came to this great country on a student visa, I know full-well that education is the best equity policy. If I wasn’t afforded equal educational opportunities, I wouldn’t be where I stand today. I wouldn’t have my three degrees, the business I own, or the ability to provide for my family. These opportunities brought me here to Howard County where my children have a better opportunity than I did to succeed in the classroom.
Despite being the top county by income in the country, not every student is so fortunate and we have to fix that. We have to make sure all students have equal access to educational resources and facilities. We must provide teachers with all the tools necessary to empower our children to reach their full potential. We need to continue to integrate the many cultural voices, which make Howard County so delightfully distinctive, into our curriculum, workforce, and professional learning standards.
We should create equity in funding, resources, facilities, and access. We should also make the work of the Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion a higher priority, as I believe it’s been underutilized. Above all, we should build unity with an open door and an open mind, respectfully listening and uniting all stakeholders, whether they’re parents, teachers, business leaders or the many leaders of our diverse community groups.
7. In specifics, how should the Board of Education address school overcrowding?
I believe we need to come together as a community to increase education funding and relentlessly comb through the budget to eliminate every dime of waste. We should explore
additional possibilities like strategic partnerships instead of relying on only the budget to meet all of our needs, which include overcrowding issues.
With the new school location decided by the Board, we now need to redistrict to eliminate the overcrowding at some of the schools, until that new school comes online. Students in 8th or 9th grade today don’t benefit from this site selection decision. Continuing to put them through overcrowded schools denies them the best possible educational experience. We shouldn’t
punish those students by continuing to put them in overcrowded schools.
This is the first step, but it’s not the only thing we can do. The Board and administration should also work together to examine the specific needs of each school, specifically the so-called “trailers” and budget accordingly. These are, at best, eating away our budget with constant maintenance. At worst, the trailers are a security risk because they are isolated from the school. Further, the school board needs to make planning for high school #14 a priority TODAY, because by the time high school #13 welcomes its first student in 2023, we will already have a need for a 14th high school.
In the future, we need to plan ahead to avoid redistricting, or at least have a long-term strategic redistricting plan when new schools come online. We need to have the next school ready to go when it is needed, and we’ll do that by working proactively with all possible stakeholders: the
community, the county council, county executive, state delegation, and any other relevant organizations. Without experienced leadership on the Board, we won’t get this done.
8. Briefly, what are your top three priorities if elected?
I have more than three goals I wish to accomplish as a Board member, but the three most
1. Equity/Inclusion/Fairness in our access to educational resources, facilities, and in our human interactions
2. Righting our fiscal ship in an accountable, transparent way. This means keeping all Board and administrative processes open and in full view of the community, especially when it comes to procurement and budget management.
3. Reinventing our technology policies to embrace constantly-developing innovation. This will make our students and teachers have a more efficient, enjoyable, and enlightening educational experience.
Please visit my website for more detailed information.