Laura Runyeon

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Laura Runyeon
Laura Runyeon.jpg
Former candidate for
Board member, Harford County Board of Education, District B
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 4, 2014
Next generalN/A
Term limitsN/A
Bachelor'sNotre Dame of Maryland University
Campaign website
Laura Runyeon campaign logo
Laura Runyeon was a candidate for the District B seat on the Harford County Board of Education in Maryland. She advanced from a primary election on June 24, 2014, and was defeated by Robert "Bob" Frisch in the general election on November 4, 2014.


Runyeon earned a B.A. in business from Notre Dame of Maryland University. She has worked as a paralegal since 1987 and currently works part-time at Miles & Stockbridge P.C.[1]



See also: Harford County Public Schools elections (2014)


The June 24, 2014, primary ballot included primaries for Districts B, C, D, E and F with the top two vote recipients in each primary advancing to the general election on November 4, 2014. Incumbent Robert "Bob" Frisch and challenger Laura Runyeon defeated Greg Johnson in District B. District C incumbent Alysson L. Krchnavy and challenger Joseph L. Voskuhl advanced to the general election by defeating John Anker. Nancy Reynolds faced challenger Mike Simon in her bid for another term in District D after defeating challengers Chris Scholz and Tishan D. Weerasooriya in the primary. The primary race for District E resulted in board member Arthur Kaff and newcomer Rachel Gauthier defeating Stephen Eric Macko and Barney Michel. Macko dropped out of the race after the withdrawal deadline which meant his name still appeared on the ballot. District F incumbent Thomas Fitzpatrick and Michael R. Hitchings squared off in the general election after defeating Joe Fleckenstein in the primary.

The District A race advanced to the general election without a primary as newcomers Frederick A. Mullis and Jansen M. Robinson were the only candidates to file for the seat.

In the general election Jansen M. Robinson won District A, incumbent Robert "Bob" Frisch was returned to District B, challenger Joseph L. Voskuhl defeated incumbent Alysson L. Krchnavy for District C, incumbent Nancy Reynolds won District D, newcomer Rachel Gauthier defeated incumbent Arthur Kaff for District E and incumbent Thomas Fitzpatrick won another term in District F.

This was the first time that county voters selected members for these seats on the Harford County Board of Education. Board members were appointed by the governor prior to a 2009 state law that turned six of the nine board seats into elected positions. There were board elections for two-year terms in Districts A, B and D in November 2010. Victorious candidates in the general election will take office in July 2015 along with three newly appointed members.[2]


Harford County Public Schools, District B General Election, 4-year term, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngRobert "Bob" Frisch Incumbent 54.9% 8,160
     Nonpartisan Laura Runyeon 44.3% 6,587
     Nonpartisan Write-in 0.8% 117
Total Votes 14,864
Source: Maryland State Board of Elections, "Official 2014 Gubernatorial General Election results for Harford County," accessed December 20, 2014
Harford County Public Schools, District B Primary Election, 4-year term, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngRobert "Bob" Frisch Incumbent 49.5% 2,643
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngLaura Runyeon 35.1% 1,874
     Nonpartisan Greg Johnson 15.4% 823
Total Votes 5,340
Source: Maryland State Board of Elections, "Official 2014 Gubernatorial Primary Election results for Harford County," July 17, 2014


Runyeon reported $100.00 in contributions and $355.10 in expenditures to the Maryland State Board of Elections, leaving her campaign with $344.84 on hand as of June 10, 2014. This total includes amounts from previous filing periods.[3]


Runyeon received the endorsement of the New Harford Democratic Club prior to the primary election.[4] She was also endorsed by The Aegis and The Baltimore Sun for the general election.[5]

Campaign themes


Runyeon explained her themes for the 2014 race in an interview with The Baltimore Sun:

Q: How will you address the budget issues that each year leave Harford County Public Schools millions of dollars short of what school system officials say they need to operate?

The school system's funding problems are largely a result of several years of reduced commitment to the school system by our elected officials. Maintenance of Effort should be a minimum standard for funding, not the goal. Harford County Public Schools have seen their priority reduced to the point where there is little room, if any, left to cut from administration and ancillary activities, resulting in teachers taking the brunt of this reduced priority. It is only a matter of time before HCPS will be faced with a large scale erosion of quality teachers and an inability to recruit new, quality ones. While the board has no funding authority, it must take a stronger stand on behalf of the children in Harford County who are the real losers on this issue. In order to deal with the budget shortfall, the school system must first do all it can to find efficiencies that have the least impact on the classroom. In that regard, I believe that we should be looking for ways to eliminate redundancies with County government. For example, we may be able combine the school system's facilities management operations and purchasing operations with that of County government. I would encourage a careful review of any other areas in which non-instructional departments can be combined to provide costs savings. In addition, I would encourage the school system to have an open dialogue with its administrators about areas where they may find cost savings, including combining non-instructional positions. Every great local economy has as it's foundation a great school system. In that regard, we must collaborate with the local funding authorities and the community to commit a sufficient portion of our local budget to funding our school system. I also believe that we should be pursuing other funding opportunities, including public/private partnerships, aggressively pursuing grants and working with the delegation to pursue possible revisions to the state funding formula. In short, the only way to truly resolve the budget shortfall is for all parties to collaborate to ensure that we have the least amount of waste and the maximum amount of assets going into the classrooms, including sufficient funding to attract and retain highly qualified teachers.

Q: In the wake of years of tragedies committed in schools across the country, please explain your position on school safety and security and what, if anything, should be done in Harford County Public Schools.

I am aware that there are already initiatives in place to address the safety and security of our schools, including the installation of security cameras and secure entrances. In those schools where there is no separate office or vestibule, we should prioritize those capital improvements. We currently have school resource officers in all of our high schools. If funding and staffing permit, we should explore the option of adding school resource officers to our middle schools. My personal observation is that the staff and parents in our schools are increasingly aware of who should be on our school campuses and are responding to any concerns accordingly. In my opinion, this awareness is itself a step forward in ensuring the protection of our students, teachers and staff.

Q: What is your position on two controversial cost savings measures – ending bus transportation waivers for students who live close to school and having tiered schedules in elementary schools to save on the number of buses needed.

I disagreed with the decision that the Board made last year to create depot stops for the magnet programs, 4th tier schools and change transportation available to students. While I recognize that the decisions were made in an effort to find cost saving measures that wouldn't impact the classroom, I believe that proposing the changes and passing them in the same meeting, without stakeholder input or fully vetting the consequences of these changes was a mistake. Good education creates opportunities for our students and community and decisions that limit access to education or create an undue hardship on working parents to provide access to education for their children is a bad one. The consequence of this decision, according to testimony of internal staff, is much more complicated to unwind than it was to create. There was no apparent plan in place as to how to deal with magnet students in the case of late openings or early closings. The changes affected the early dismissal schedule for all elementary students schools. It was already a challenge to provide significant classroom instruction on early dismissal days, now there is even less time to do so. Establishing 4th tier elementary schools created scheduling difficulties for many working families. In my opinion, the Board should have invested more time understanding what consequences this decision would create and allowing stakeholders to weigh in before any final decision was made. Ultimately, I don't believe the benefits justified the costs to families.

Q: How will you address student achievement in all ages in the various testing programs?

One of the most difficult challenges for any school system is to address achievement gaps in testing. Primarily, because the instruction provided in the schools is only one of the factors in student achievement. Many of the other factors, including home and family life, parental involvement, test bias, etc. are outside of the influence of the school and the school system. There are a number of initiatives aimed at addressing the outside influences, including providing meals to students, developing programs aimed at getting parents involved in the school and programs aimed at providing homework and tutoring support. We must continue to look for ways to increase these initiatives and ensure that all of our schools are adequately working to incorporate these types of programs. We also must ensure that we have highly trained teachers in schools where achievement gaps are significant. I know from my experience as a school improvement team representative that our schools invest a great deal of time and energy utilizing the testing data to identify areas that will help students who are struggling reach their full potential. Having said that, while data collection is necessary to understand student achievement, our students spend a great deal of time being tested. The emergence of the PARCC assessments are going to increase the amount of testing days. We need to review the various tests our students take, including the SRI, SMI, Benchmarks, etc. and identify those tests that are most useful in understanding student achievement and see if we can eliminate those that are not.

Q: How has HCPSS performed in implementing the Common Core state standards? Should anything be done differently as the school system continues its implementation?

It is my understanding that HCPS reviewed its curriculum against the Common Core Standards and reordered certain concepts and prepared insert lessons where needed to align its curriculum to the standards. It is also my understanding that as a result of a lack of funding, many teachers ultimately were responsible for creating and completing lessons in certain subject areas. I believe that given the timeframe and funding restrictions, HCPS did an adequate job implementing the standards; however, there are many areas that continue to need to be addressed. For example, in the middle and high school, when the curriculum deviates from the textbook and moves onto an insert lesson, there are no resources for the student, teacher or parents if the student encounters difficulty. I believe that the school system should have an open dialogue with the instructional teachers to determine what, if any, adjustments need to be made to the curriculum that was created last year. Once we are confident that the curriculum is essentially complete, we should turn our attention to providing curriculum support for our teachers and students.


The Baltimore Sun, (2014), [7]

About the district

See also: Harford County Public Schools, Maryland
Harford County Public Schools is located in Harford County, Maryland
Harford County Public Schools is based in Bel Air, the county seat of Harford County, Maryland. Harford County is home to 249,215 residents, according to the United States Census Bureau.[8] Harford County Public Schools is the eighth-largest school district in Maryland, serving 38,224 students during the 2011-2012 school year.[9]


Harford County underperformed in comparison to the rest of Maryland in terms of higher education achievement in 2012. The United States Census Bureau found that 31.5 percent of Harford 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 Harford County was $80,441 compared to $72,999 for the state of Maryland. The poverty rate in Harford County was 7.5 percent compared to 9.4 percent for the entire state.[8]

Racial Demographics, 2012[8]
Race Harford County (%) Maryland (%)
White 81.4 60.8
Black or African American 13.1 30.0
American Indian and Alaska Native 0.3 0.5
Asian 2.8 6.0
Two or More Races 2.3 2.5
Hispanic or Latino 3.8 8.7

Party registration, 2014[10]
Party Number of registered voters
Republican 67,823
Democratic 62,655
Unaffiliated 29,607
Other 1,215
Libertarian 814
Green 316
Total 162,430

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.[11]

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