School board President Michael Durso says he’s leaning against running for reelection next year, and one of his neighbors Wednesday filed her candidacy to replace him.
Durso is wrapping up his second full term in the Montgomery County Board of Education. He said the post has placed significant demands on his time.
“I’ve enjoyed the board experience, but it may be time to move on,” he said Wednesday in a phone interview.
His Silver Spring neighbor, Brenda Wolff, has just turned in paperwork officially launching her campaign to represent Takoma Park, White Oak, Brookeville and other eastern portions of the county.
Wolff, who spent 27 years working at the U.S. Department of Education, said she has dedicated her career to promoting equal access and wants to bring the same focus to the school board.
“Here in Montgomery County, our quality of life is good and our schools are considered some of the best in the country. But the school experience hasn’t been the same for everyone,” Wolff, 65, said.
Test scores and other performance measures show disparities based on race and income. Schools in wealthier communities get an added boost, she said.
“The parents have the resources to help the school that … parents of children on this end might or might not have,” she said.
If elected, Wolff said, she would reach out to the community with the message that a strong school system benefits all county residents. Quality education draws employers to Montgomery County and helps keep property values high; taxpayers should invest in it whether or not they have school-age children, she said.
Wolff’s two children had graduated by the time she moved to Montgomery County with her husband in 1999, but growing up in D.C., she said, she’s always been familiar with the county school system.
After graduating from Smith College with a math degree and finishing law school, Wolff worked for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and later for the Massachusetts Public Utility Commission.
At the Department of Education, she was chief regional attorney in the Boston civil rights office and the deputy director and acting director at the Philadelphia civil rights office.
She was appointed special assistant for gender equity in 1999 and later led a DOE institute on finance policy making, management and educational governance. She retired in 2012.
She is on the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee and has led a mentoring program at James Hubert Blake High School in Colesville.
Durso, 74, said he’s spoken with Wolff about school board responsibilities, and Wolff said she’s an admirer of the school board president. However, Durso said the two haven’t discussed endorsements.
He also left open the possibility that in coming months, his inclination not to run could change.
“A lot could happen between now and the end of February when (candidate) filing closes,” he said.
Durso began serving on the school board in 2009, filling a vacancy created when Nancy Navarro shifted to a position on the County Council. He was first elected in 2010.
Durso spent his career as an educator and worked 13 years as a principal for Springbrook High School in Silver Spring.