- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
A local coach has entered into the board of education election, hoping to bring a “fresh, new energy and a positive outlook for the kids and parents of Calvert County.”
Billy Saunders, 45, filed Tuesday, Feb. 25, for one of the two at-large seats up for re-election on the Calvert County Board of Education. Saunders has been coaching children in the county for 10 years, including football and lacrosse for the Prince Frederick Eagles, as well as little league baseball and soccer for other organizations. As president of the Prince Frederick Eagles organization, Saunders also serves on the board of directors for the Southern Maryland Youth Athletic Conference and as a member of the Calvert County Optimist Club.
“I see the influential role I play in these kids’ lives, and I’d like to take that to another level,” Saunders said. “I’ve been fortunate enough to help the kids I’ve coached, and I think my position on the board will be able to help more children.”
Saunders, a native of southern Prince George’s County, moved to Calvert County 11 years ago. Now a Prince Frederick resident, Saunders said he and his family moved here specifically for Calvert County Public Schools. Saunders’ older son graduated from Huntingtown High School last year and his younger son currently is at Sunderland Elementary. Saunders works as a senior loan officer at 1st Mariner Mortgage.
“I really looked to our county school system as being one of the biggest positives in the community,” Saunders said. “I tell everyone I’m working with looking to move to Calvert County looking at a private school education for a public school cost.”
Saunders said the excellence of Calvert County Public Schools is evident in test scores, national rankings, the high graduation rate and high number of students who enter college after high school.
Saunders said re-implementing a strong substance abuse program into the school system will be his biggest goal if elected onto the board.
“We’re missing the boat right now with D.A.R.E., and maybe there’s something else we can put into place,” Saunders said. “It’s evident, based on the amount of drug reports in the county by our young adults, and hopefully, by implementing this program, whether at the elementary, middle or high school levels, we can help solve that.”
Saunders said he has not witnessed any form of drug abuse in the children he has coached throughout the years, but regardless, he said, “whether you know the individual or not, it’s something you don’t want to see happen to any kid in the county.”
The biggest problem facing the school system currently, Saunders said, is the redistricting of Beach Elementary School, which he said he will have to familiarize himself with quickly if he is elected.
“If elected, I’ll have to become familiar with quickly if a decision is made. It seems that there’s a possibility that this proposal will be delayed, so it could be something I have to adopt and deal with,” Saunders said.
Saunders said his coaching experience provides parents an approachable outlet for them to come to him with problems or concerns.
“Not only [do the parents] influence my decision to run, it also influences [their] ability and confidence to vote for me,” Saunders said. “It opens the opportunity for them to come to me with concerns and issues they may have.”
Saunders will face Eugene Karol, current president of the board of education, and Dawn Balinkski, board member, both of whom are up for re-election. He also faces William J. “Bill” Phalen Sr., former president of the board, and Pamela Cousins for the two at-large seats up for grabs in this year’s general election.