Andrea Artman doesn’t have a background in education. She has a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in bioengineering and has worked in various governmental regulatory jobs. Today, she owns her own consulting business in Frederick and has two children in the Frederick County Public School system.
Artman understands that to some, her lack of knowledge of education-specific policy may be a weakness, but she sees it as an invaluable strength she can bring to the Board of Education, especially when faced with issues that require strategic thinking and problem-solving.
“I am not entrenched in how education has always been done,” Artman said. “Being able to problem solve in areas that aren’t traditionally education takes a non-education person to make it happen.”
If elected, Artman said one of her focuses as a board member will be equity and making sure students have equal access to opportunities and that resources are spread across the school system evenly.
“I’m very impressed by the amount of opportunities we have, from our tech to internships, but I think equality in those programs is really important, we seem to centralize them in certain schools,” Artman said. “I know [programs] are open to the whole system but that doesn’t necessarily mean that kids from every area are getting into those programs or can make it work.”
Teacher pay and retention are also top issues for Artman as well as a desire to re-include communities in schools and show those who aren’t as tapped in, what an investment in education can do.
“As you pull further and further away from your community…I think it kind of disenfranchises [them] away from the education system and then when you need taxes or fees to improve our schools, they’re like why?” Artman said.
Residents need to understand why the money is needed and what it is going to do for them, Artman said and added that even though no one likes to taxes, at the end of the day, that’s how things are funded.
As a board member, Artman said she would work to make sure that the funding FCPS does receive is going towards needs and not wants.
“We need to concentrate on having the people and the infrastructure to actually educate our students,” Artman said. “I think a lot of times we concentrate on the next gadget or the next building but overall, our job is to educate our youth and to make them feel safe and welcomed.”
She also wants to see improvement in how FCPS handles enrollment growth, starting with better enrollment projections.
“They’re building four- or five-bedroom houses and they’re saying one student is going to come out of each house…when I’m buying a house that has that many rooms it’s probably because I’m planning on having a family,” Artman said.
She feels the school system needs to have better relationships with developers in order to plan better.
“It seems we don’t necessarily have control over when the development happens and how quickly it happens … so really building relationships with the developers to get more real-time information,” Artman said.
She would also like to see a change in how enrollment numbers are used in the budgeting process. Currently, budgeting is based on enrollment numbers from the beginning of each school year.
“I would like to see that happen more than once a year… so you can make sure that your funding numbers make sense,” Artman said.
She hopes to tackle this and other issues if elected to the Board as a way to give back to the community she lives and works in.
Owning her own business will allow her flexibility with time she says and will allow her to devote what is needed to the role.
Overall, she hopes people vote for her because of the different perspectives and lines of thinking she can bring.
“I provide … a different lens on the public education spectrum,” Artman said. “My focus is community and inclusion and ensuring that all students benefit from the work that is done.”
Follow Katryna Perera on Twitter: @katrynajill