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Calvert County Board of Education district 3 candidate Kelly McConkey says he is focused on making his campaign much like he’d be as a board member: visible.

McConkey, 44, is running against incumbent Rose Crunkleton, the board’s current president.

The Dunkirk resident, who owns Kelly’s Tree & Lawn Service Inc., said he decided to run after seeing room for improvement in the school system, which he said he still considers among the best.

The improvements, he said, could be in the school facilities, where the simple fixes often aren’t made in a timely manner.

“Some schools don’t even have air conditioning in a lot of the rooms,” McConkey said.

Throughout his campaign, McConkey said he has also learned that bullying within the schools “is more of a problem than I ever realized.”

The father of four sons said he has heard that students are skipping school just to avoid harassment from their peers.

To combat this, McConkey said he would suggest that the school system have an anonymous hotline for students and parents, “so we could stop these situations before they get worse.”

McConkey said the school system should also be taking a tougher stance on drug use by having more frequent canine tests in both the parking lots and the schools.

“I think there needs to be more of a presence there so kids know there’s a consequence. Now it’s kept kind of hush, hush,” he said.

McConkey, who was endorsed by Calvert Education Association, the local teachers union, said another priority of his would be getting the teachers some type of salary increase, which they have not received for the past two school years.

“I think the teachers’ morale is down and it’s been too long since they’ve received a pay step,” he said. “ ... My first priority is not to cut any teachers or staff.”

As the owner of a business with 15 employees, McConkey said his experience working with budgets will be beneficial to his tenure as a board member.

He also said he would bring community involvement as a current board member for The United Way of Calvert County and The Optimist Club of Calvert County.

More than anything, McConkey said he would bring “common sense.”

“They can expect things to get done,” he said of Calvert residents should they elect him. “I will make myself available and I will follow through with every person that contacts me.”

McConkey said he has been campaigning by putting up signs and talking to the public at local functions like the Calvert County Fair, where he said he spent about 50 hours.

He said he will also be attending upcoming candidate forums held by the Calvert County League of Women Voters and Asbury-Solomons.

McConkey ran for the Calvert County Board of County Commissioners in 2010 as a Democrat and said despite his loss, the experience made him a stronger candidate for the school board.

“I learned more about the county in six months than I had in 10 years of living here,” he said, continuing that after learning how much of the county’s dollars went into the schools, “I thought it would be really good to learn the ins and outs of the school board.”

McConkey and his wife Kimberly’s sons Kelly Jr., 20, Kyle, 16, Kory, 12, and Kevin, 8 have attended Northern High School, Northern Middle School and Sunderland Elementary School.

Like several of the board candidates, McConkey said the schools are what brought him to Calvert from Brandywine.

“I hope I’m given the opportunity to serve on the board,” he said.

Editor’s note: Profiles on Calvert County Board of Education candidates Rose Crunkleton, Tracy McGuire and Joe Chenelly were previously featured in earlier editions of The Calvert Recorder. McGuire and Chenelly were featured in the Jan. 18 edition of The Calvert Recorder. Crunkleton was featured in the Feb. 3 edition of The Calvert Recorder. The profiles can be found on our Website at www.somdnews.com.

ldukes@somdnews.com