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Cynthia L. Vaillancourt

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Cynthia L. Vaillancourt
Cynthia L. Vaillancourt.jpg
Board member, Howard County Board of Education, At-large
Term ends
November 2018
Years in position 5
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 4, 2014
First electedNovember 2010
Next general2018
Term limitsN/A
Bachelor'sDenison University
Office website
Campaign website
Cynthia L. Vaillancourt campaign logo
Cynthia L. Vaillancourt is an at-large member of the Howard County Board of Education in Maryland. She was first elected to the board in 2010. Vaillancourt advanced from a primary election on June 24, 2014, to face seven other candidates for four seats in the general election on November 4, 2014. Cynthia L. Vaillancourt won the general election on November 4, 2014.


Vaillancourt earned a B.A. in English and history from Denison University in 1983. She has worked as a project manager for a real estate firm as well as the owner of a pottery studio. Vaillancourt and her husband have two children who have attended district schools.[1]



See also: Howard County Public Schools elections (2014)


The June 24, 2014, primary ballot included incumbents Sandra H. French and Cynthia L. Vaillancourt as well as challengers Bess I. Altwerger, Corey Andrews, Tom Baek, Zaneb K. Beams, Olga Butler, Allen Dyer, Maureen Evans Arthurs, Dan Furman, Leslie Kornreich, Christine O'Connor and Mike Smith. French, Vaillancourt, Altwerger, Beams, Dyer, Furman, O'Connor and Smith faced off in the general election on November 4, 2014.


Howard County Public Schools, At-Large General Election, 4-year term, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngCynthia L. Vaillancourt Incumbent 15.9% 44,142
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngSandra H. French Incumbent 15.4% 42,810
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngBess I. Altwerger 13.6% 37,774
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngChristine O'Connor 13.5% 37,561
     Nonpartisan Dan Furman 11.9% 33,114
     Nonpartisan Zaneb K. Beams 10.6% 29,548
     Nonpartisan Allen Dyer 9.9% 27,663
     Nonpartisan Mike Smith 8.8% 24,449
     Nonpartisan Write-in votes 0.4% 1,152
Total Votes 278,213
Source: Maryland State Board of Elections, "Official 2014 Gubernatorial General Election Results for Howard County," December 2, 2014
Howard County Public Schools, At-Large Primary Election, 4-year term, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngCynthia L. Vaillancourt Incumbent 13.5% 15,851
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngSandra H. French Incumbent 12.5% 14,688
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngBess I. Altwerger 10.9% 12,733
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngDan Furman 10.1% 11,880
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngZaneb K. Beams 8.6% 10,042
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngChristine O'Connor 7.2% 8,477
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngAllen Dyer 6.6% 7,724
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngMike Smith 5.7% 6,730
     Nonpartisan Leslie Kornreich 5.4% 6,388
     Nonpartisan Olga Butler 5% 5,849
     Nonpartisan Maureen Evans Arthurs 4.9% 5,752
     Nonpartisan Corey Andrews 4.9% 5,744
     Nonpartisan Tom Baek 4.7% 5,482
Total Votes 117,340
Source: Maryland State Board of Elections, "Official 2014 Gubernatorial Primary Election results for Howard County," accessed October 18, 2014


Vaillancourt began the race with an existing account balance of $90.00 from her previous campaigns. She reported no contributions or expenditures to the Maryland State Board of Elections, which left her campaign with $90.00 on hand as of August 19, 2014.[2]


Vaillancourt was endorsed by the Howard County Education Association (HCEA), The Baltimore Sun and Parents Choice of Maryland.[3][4][5]


Howard County Public Schools, At-Large General Election, 4-year term, 2010
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngFrank Aquino Incumbent 17.7% 49,207
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngSandra H. French Incumbent 17.3% 48,202
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngBrian Meshkin 11.4% 31,707
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngCynthia L. Vaillancourt 11.1% 30,990
     Nonpartisan David E. Proudfoot 11% 30,597
     Nonpartisan Robert D. Ballinger, II 10.7% 29,627
     Nonpartisan Leslie Kornreich 10.6% 29,375
     Nonpartisan Larry Walker 9.9% 27,546
     Nonpartisan Write-in votes 0.3% 877
Total Votes 278,128
Source: Maryland State Board of Elections, "Official 2010 Gubernatorial General Election results for Howard County," accessed June 4, 2014

Campaign themes


Vaillancourt explained her themes for the 2014 race on her campaign website:

1. The Board of Education must provide active direction of the HCPSS

As the elected representatives of our community, our Board of Education must assert its' statutory and practical authority to actively direct the direction and operations of the Howard County Public Schools. Our incumbents consistently lament the "loss of control" over the schools to the state and federal governments - however, it is clear that they have effectively surrendered control voluntarily. Sadly, the majority of incument Board Members hold fast to an antiquated and obsolete philosophy of their role as Board of Education members. After nearly four years serving on this Board it has become clear to me that the problem lies in the lingering remnants of the time when the Howard County Board of Education was an Appointed Board. When it was an appointed board, the public looked to their elected officials in County Government for accountability. Now, in the 21st Century, the citizens, students and voters of Howard County have every right to expect their elected representatives - who are entrusted with more than half of the County budget, and more importantly, the education of our children - to exercise leadership in the performance of their sworn duty, and to be accountable and responsive to the citizens of this County. That is how I see my duty to the citizens and students of Howard County, and how I fight to honor that obligation.

We can and must say NO to focusing our education on state mandated testing. Certainly we want the students to do well on these tests, but this should be the result of good teaching and a rich and full curriculum --- not the point of our focus. This is still true. And your elected representatives should be doing more to stand up for what is best for our students, and what our County and Community expect and deserve.

2. Assert a leadership position instead of waiting to be directed by the state or federal government

Howard County must assert a leadership position in curriculum, testing and teacher evaluation processes - and not merely wait to be directed by the government. State and Federal mandates are MINIMUM requirements necessitated by inadequate or failing systems in other parts of the state and country --- not Howard County. It is imperative that we stop allowing our programs to be diluted to these minimum standards --- and instead set our own higher standards, processes and curriculum. Time will tell if we "race to the middle" while adapting to the "Common Core." A set of minimum standards is not inherently bad - the question is what WE do with them.

3. Implement a foreign/world languages program in elementary school

Howard County MUST immediately implement foreign/world languages into our elementary school curriculum. We should all be embarrassed that this is not the current situation, and in spite of the incumbents' claims that they have finally formed a task force - 4 years after finally deciding it should be done - there is no sense of urgency, nor is confidence high that any substantive steps will be taken in a timely way. They incumbents continue to insist we already have foreign language in our middle schools - though any parent of a middle school child can confirm that these opportunities are limited to select students. It is hardly an open offering for our students. It was a long, hard fight - but once we reached the tipping point, we were able to make serious progress on the World Language front. There have been some stumbles, and there will likely be more, but we are stumbling in the right direction.

4. Implement a true vocational training program

Although we have many wonderful programs and teachers - and arguably most of our students are being well served with a solid and appropriate education - we are failing to adequately serve large numbers of our students.

We are desperately in need of true vocational programs for hands on training in the trades and other non-college required careers.

This is NOT to say that every Howard County student should not receive a college preparatory education --- the notion that the two are mutually exclusive is a by-product of ignorance and out dated thinking. There are wonderful vocational and technical schools throughout this country that manage to provide a full college bound curriculum and the training necessary to earn a good and satisfying living as a carpenter, electrician, or any number of other honorable professions. We are failing our students who are not currently interested in immediate full time college education experiences after high school, or who need to earn their own livings, or who are simply passionate about working in the trades. If we can get them through high school with their love of learning intact and a satisfying path to independence, they can keep their options open for lifelong learning opportunities.

If they drop out of school because they cannot find meaningful pathways - then they have truly cut off their options.

We are also failing to adequately prepare our most vulnerable non-college bound students for meaningful self sufficient lives. We could be providing much more appropriate and ultimately satisfying programs at less cost than our current array of interventions and social services. There are wonderful programs like those in the Christiana School District in Delaware that provide practical career training for students with special needs we can use as a model. I think we are making some progress at least in softening previously hard lines about vocational opportunities.

5. Capitalize on economies of scale and use of technology

We MUST capitalize on the economies of scale and use of technology that will free up resources, enhance opportunities, and close the existing gaps in our current programs.

Just this past few weeks, as my high school age child has been unable to start school due to an injury, it has become clear that with a very limited investment in technology, he could have been watching his classes online instead of waiting to be cleared to go back to school and start off behind. Fortunately all of his teachers are actively using the internet tools available to keep us posted on assignments - but this is not the best we can be doing.

Students who are out of school, or even in school but removed from the classrooms could be utilizing this technology.

Students whose schools do not offer certain classes due to lack of interest could be included via the internet from other schools. I am so excited to be able to report that in spite of the usual chorus of naysaying and resistence - this year we implemented a truly wonderful program to allow students from all High Schools to take a most advanced math class (Differential Equations) that was previously only offered in one school (sometimes 2). It has been an unqualified success - and I think it is fair to say that it is because of my efforts and those of Brian Meshkin.

We are currently spending over $1 million per year on home/off site education for sick, suspended and expelled students. We can do more with less in this area by utilizing available technologies. There is a lot of room to grow with these programs, but we are actually making progress here, too.

We are missing many, many opportunities to truly provide a world class education to all of our students. "A truly World Class Education" was a big part of my "campaign" in the 2010 election. I still have a gross of reusable grocery bags with that and my globe logo. We are still missing too many opportunities to do better. I think I am going to raise my sights higher than "World Class".... we need a truly American Class education. Don't let the "facts" and "data" from around the world fool you. America still does smart, and creative, and industrious as well as or better than anyone else - and we need to keep it that way!

Thank you for your time and interest.[6]

—Cynthia L. Vaillancourt's campaign website, (2014) [7]

What was at stake?

Issues in the election

Ethics claims against Cynthia Vaillancourt

On May 8, 2014, the Board of Education approved a resolution by a 5-2 vote admonishing member Cynthia L. Vaillancourt for violating board confidentiality. The resolution stated that Vaillancourt disclosed information from closed sessions to outside parties and interfered with work done by the county's five-member ethics panel. Vaillancourt accused her fellow board members of inserting themselves into the 2014 election by engaging in "nasty politics" and following "base motives." She also argued that fellow board members left her out of e-mail threads about ongoing ethics investigations, which forced her to directly contact the county panel. Outgoing board member Brian Meshkin, who joined Vaillancourt in voting against the resolution, also criticized the board for damaging the board's integrity with these accusations.[8]

Board president Ellen Flynn Giles stated after the resolution that the board had previously warned Vaillancourt about her communications with outside parties regarding confidential matters. The resolution could be the first step toward future actions against Vaillancourt including official censure and impeachment. Giles and fellow board members Janet Siddiqui, Sandra H. French and Frank Aquino were involved in the attempted removal of board member Allen Dyer in 2011.[8] Dyer remained in office through the end of his term in 2012 due to legal challenges to the board's actions.[9]

Suspension, resumption of Corey Andrews's campaign

Corey Andrews suspended his campaign for a board seat on May 19, 2014, in response to an increasingly negative tone in the election. Andrews cited the board's resolution against Cynthia L. Vaillancourt and claimed that board members have abused their powers to maintain their positions on the board. Andrews sent the following e-mail to supporters on May 19, 2014, to explain his campaign's suspension:

I got into this race to make a difference for the Howard County Public School System. It is important that we protect this local treasure.

The fact is, there are forces preventing those who want to make a difference from doing so. The Howard County Board of Education exposed its corruption a few weeks ago when it abused its power and censured Cindy Vaillancourt in the attempt to smear her name before the upcoming election. Board members have had their personal emails breached by school system staff. Critical documents have been withheld from some Board members. There have even been attempts at physical intimidation by other Board members.

Several Board members, along with a select few candidates, have been coordinating an effort to control the Board and who is on it. Two candidates have resorted to extremely negative campaigning behind closed-doors.

This is not the first time I have run for this position. When I filed to run, I was prepared for a heated campaign. I was not prepared to deal with corruption and abuse of power and am not interested in serving on a Board with people who use such unethical tactics.

Therefore, I am immediately suspending by campaign for the Howard County Board of Education.

Sometimes, it feels like the "bad guys" are winning. The people of Howard County deserve better than this.


The Baltimore Sun, (2014), [10]

Andrews reconsidered his withdrawal and resumed his campaign on June 10, 2014. In an interview with The Baltimore Sun, Andrews stated that he received supportive e-mails and phone calls after his withdrawal that encouraged resumption of his campaign. Andrews withdrew from the race after the deadline to remove names from the ballot so his name would have appeared on the primary ballot if his campaign remained suspended. He placed 12th in the primary election and did not advance to the general election.[11]

About the district

See also: Howard County Public Schools, Maryland
Howard County Public Schools is located in Howard County, Maryland
Howard County Public Schools is based in Ellicott City, a city located in Howard County, Maryland. Howard County is home to 304,580 residents, according to the United States Census Bureau.[12] Howard County Public Schools is the sixth-largest school district in Maryland, serving 51,555 students during the 2011-2012 school year.[13]


Howard County outperformed the rest of Maryland in terms of higher education achievement in 2012. The United States Census Bureau found that 59.5 percent of Howard County residents aged 25 years and older had attained a bachelor's degree compared to 36.3 percent for Maryland as a whole. The median household income in Howard County was $107,821 compared to $72,999 for the state of Maryland. The poverty rate in Howard County was 4.4 percent compared to 9.4 percent for the entire state.[12]

Racial Demographics, 2012[12]
Race Howard County (%) Maryland (%)
White 62.3 60.8
Black or African American 18.1 30.0
American Indian and Alaska Native 0.4 0.5
Asian 15.7 6.0
Two or More Races 3.4 2.5
Hispanic or Latino 6.2 8.7

Party registration, 2014[14]
Party Number of registered voters
Democratic 93,491
Republican 56,260
Unaffiliated 42,856
Other 2,302
Libertarian 868
Green 493
Total 196,270

Note: The United States Census Bureau considers "Hispanic or Latino" to be a place of origin, not a race. Therefore, the Census allows citizens to report both their race and that they are from a "Hispanic or Latino" place of origin simultaneously. As a result, the percentages in each column of the racial demographics table will exceed 100 percent. Each column will add up to 100 percent after removing the "Hispanic or Latino" place of origin percentages, although rounding by the Census Bureau may make the total one- or two-tenths off from being exactly 100 percent.[15] This Ballotpedia page provides a more detailed explanation of how the Census Bureau handles race and ethnicity in its surveys.

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