Anyone with good ideas to boost the quality of education offered to youth in the city of Frederick would be interested in the discussion the mayor and Board of Aldermen had during Wednesday’s workshop.
An education commission was originally formed by resolution in 2002 and updated in 2006, but Alderwoman Donna Kuzemchak and Alderman Derek Shackelford realized the commission had stopped meeting and has been almost entirely inactive in recent years, prompting the two elected officials to propose a third resolution reinstating the group. Going even further, the aldermen expressed their hopes that the new iteration of the old group would focus on new issues.
For example, when Alderman Roger Wilson asked which city department Kuzemchak could see staffing the new commission, noting that the city’s Parks and Recreation Department staffed the city’s Youth Advisory Council, Kuzemchak said that she saw the goals of the proposed education commission falling more under the city’s Department of Economic Development.
“I’m looking at education and job training and that type of thing,” Kuzemchak said. “To me, this is very much about the future of economic development in the city.”
Another central goal of the proposed commission would be to look at different ways the city could work more closely with the Frederick County Board of Education and the county school system to make sure schools within the city are more accessible to youth and ways in which schools can more readily provide space for programming or events outside of regular school hours.
While Wilson and Alderwoman Kelly Russell were immediately supportive of the idea, Kuzemchak’s and Shackelford’s proposal did face some skepticism.
“I support the things that have been discussed [but] I don’t entirely understand how a convened commission, an education commission, will facilitate or move the city toward those goals,” Alderman Ben MacShane said at one point, asking why the city couldn’t accomplish some of the ideas presented during the discussion as easily by enacting resolutions and asking staff to look into solutions.
Shackelford pointed out the importance of having a consensus with city residents in both brainstorming topics of interest as well as solutions to challenges. Shackelford and Kuzemchak have met regularly with several residents from August through December of last year to discuss such issues ahead of the proposal to kick-start the commission, including former city police Chief Kim Dine, Tianna Massaquoi from the Frederick County YMCA, county school teacher Erin Roelke, as well as various nonprofit representatives and other interested residents.
Kuzemchak agreed, using her initial skepticism for the city’s Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee as an example of how she was eventually proven wrong and embraced the idea.
“They have obviously done some great things, they have given us very specific direction, and in my mind, this commission will do the same thing,” Kuzemchak said. “... It goes from the general [topic], which we are talking about, to a group that is willing to take it to very specific actions.”
As of Wednesday, the proposal was awaiting an opportunity to come for a vote before the board during a regular Thursday evening hearing at an as yet undisclosed future date. If approved, the city would accept volunteers to run the committee who would be appointed by Mayor Michael O’Connor with input and advice from the board.
Public Art Commission seeks applications
And for those readers with more of an artistic persuasion, the city’s already established Public Art Commission was still looking to fill a vacancy on that commission.
Tasked with the acquisition, display or creation of new art on property owned by the city or within the city’s historic district, the Public Art Commission meets at 4:30 p.m. on the second Tuesday of every month in City Hall.
City residents interested in joining have until 4 p.m. Thursday to send a letter of interest and a recent resume to Pam Stocksdale, the mayor’s office manager, at 101 N. Court St., Frederick, MD 21701, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.