Compared to some of the other Board of Education candidates, David Bass can be considered a newcomer to the county.
He and his husband moved to Frederick in 2016 after spending years working in higher education institutions such as York College and serving a nonprofit that helps people with developmental disabilities.
Bass, a former special education teacher, currently works as the director of Jewish student life at Gettysburg College, but with the job being less than full-time, Bass said he felt he could do more to serve public education, which is when he began attending FCPS Board of Education meetings regularly.
“I think it was the first meeting I attended, there was a lot of talk about the racial equity committee and it just really peaked my interested, that this Board is really trying to close opportunity gaps and really work toward racial equity,” Bass said.
If elected, Bass wants to continue working on the issue of equity and explore why some feel there is an in-balance within the school system.
“It just feels like FCPS is not as well perceived in some cases among families of color,” Bass said. “That’s not true across the board, but where it is true we need to ask more questions, find out why, and address deficiencies.”
Equity and a desire to invest more in special education are two of Bass’ biggest priorities as a candidate.
“[Special education] is what my background is in, both professionally and through my brother being on the autism spectrum,” Bass said. “It’s really broken my heart to hear about parents who feel that they need to homeschool their kids or send their kids to other school districts, that’s not what we should be doing. We need to find ways to serve every student.”
To address these priorities though, Bass recognizes the school system needs funding. He said he has been frustrated by some of the metrics he’s seen.
“We are one of the wealthiest counties in the state and our per-pupil spending is near the bottom...it’s not acceptable, we’re leaving kids behind,” he said.
Bass said he would advocate for more funding and work to ensure that FCPS is spending money in the most critical places.
One of the ways Bass thinks FCPS is excelling though is with the LYNX program at Frederick High School.
“The LYNX program is a real step in 21st-century education. I think it really recognizes that students are at a variety of places,” Bass said. “I applaud it. I’m excited to observe it, to study it more closely, and to see if it’s implementable at other schools.”
When asked how he thinks the school system has handled the current COVID-19 crisis, Bass said he gives a lot of credit to FCPS for getting technology like Chromebooks into the hands of students quickly and setting up wifi spots in parking lots to ensure that students can continue their learning.
However, Bass said he does hope to see more synchronous instruction if distance learning continues into the fall.
“I was surprised there wasn’t more live teaching being done this semester and I think that if we need to do distance learning in the fall...for some part of the day I do want students and teachers connecting live on an online platform,” he said.
As a Board member, Bass said he thinks his biggest challenge will be not having any children in the school system — although he and his husband hope to someday.
“Board members who have kids in the school district do have a bit of an inherent advantage in terms of every day, seeing and hearing exactly what is going on in their child’s school and being in close contact with parents,” Bass said.
He is prepared to make up for it in any and every way he can, including a plan to hold office hours every week in different parts of the county.
It’s this desire to bring in more perspectives to the discussion, that Bass totes as the reason people should vote for him.
“If someone hasn’t felt heard by FCPS or the Board I want to have a conversation with them,” he said.