Having led the Chesapeake High athletic department for over 20 years, and been in the Baltimore County school system for 35, Rod McMillion isn’t ready to retire.
But the Chesapeake High athletic director and physical education teacher will retire, if the voters so desire.
McMillion is running for the elected (non-partisan) Board of Education seat from the Seventh District. If he’s elected, conflict of interest rules forbid him from still working for the Baltimore County school system.
“The students and faculty of the schools in Dundalk, Essex and Middle River need someone who will fight for them,” McMillion said. “Someone who’s going to represent them. There needs to be equal opportunity for the kids in this area, just like all the other areas.
“There’s a real inequality between this area and other areas in the county, and I’ve seen it for years.”
The primary election is in June, and the field of candidates for the school board position from this district will be narrowed down to two (there are currently three candidates, including McMillion, Will Feuer and Eric Washington). Those two will advance to the general election in November.
McMillion would not have to retire until winning the November election.
“If I win, I’ll immediately submit my retirement,” he said. “I understand the conflict of interest. If I were still the athletic director at Chesapeake, anything I directed toward Chesapeake would look suspicious.”
Having been a Baltimore County teacher since 1983, McMillion has put in enough years to already qualify for retirement.
But what disappoints him is, if he retires due to being elected o the school board, he will be unable to be a substitute teacher, unable to be a bus driver (he’s qualified) and won’t be allowed to umpire baseball games — all things he had planned to do when he eventually retired.
But McMillion feels the tradeoff — being able to help all of the students and schools in the southeast area — is worth it.
“I’ve had the opportunity to work internally in the school system for 35 years,” he said. “That’s something people on the outside don’t have.
“I’m not a politician. I have no political aspirations and I won’t use this as a stepping stone. I’ll use [being on the board] to help the kids of Essex, Dundalk, Middle River and Rosedale.”
McMillion is a lifelong Essex resident, who grew up in Old Essex off of Mace Avenue and attended Essex Elementary and Stemmers Run Junior High before graduating from Kenwood High in 1971.
He went to then-Essex Community College to play baseball, but was, admittedly, “an average player.”
While sitting in English class one day, McMillion said he had a revelation of sorts.
“I realized, I’m here in college, I might as well study,” he said. “I applied my competitive sports instincts to classes. I wanted that ‘A’, wanted to be the best in the class.”
McMillion eventually earned a degree in physical education from Towson State University, then earned a Master’s degree in physical education from Morgan State University and a Master’s degree in counseling/psychology from Loyola.
He has 40 credits towards a Ph.D. in sports psychology from the University.
McMillion taught at eight different elementary schools over his first 10 years as a Baltimore County teacher before coming to Chesapeake High in 1993. He was named the Bayhawk’s athletic director in 1995.
Among the issues McMillion feels the Baltimore County Board of Education needs to address:
- Restoring the trust of the taxpaying public. “The public is starting to lose trust in public education, and I still believe a public education can change a person for the better,” he said.
- There needs to be a search for a new superintendent. “This will be the first superintendent in Baltimore County to work with an elected school board.”
- Opening the books. “We need to go back to 2012 and examine everything,” McMillion said. “As the old adage goes, ‘follow the money.’ The public deserves to know what happened with all those contracts.
“With all these hundreds of millions of dollars,there is so much confusion about the money. Was it overspent? Underspent? Do we need to give every kid in the school system a laptop?”
- Don’t arm teachers; increase police presence. “I don’t know if I can trust a teacher with a gun. But I have trust in the Baltimore County Police Department, and the School Resource Officers.”
McMillion has been in the school system before SRO’s were introduced, “and there is a noticeable difference in the behavior in the building when you have a police officer in the building.”
All high schools and just about all middle schools in the county have SRO’s. “We need to really look at putting SRO’s in every elementary school, too,” McMillion said. “We’re going to have to find the money someplace.”
To earn a spot on the board, McMillion said he will work busy corners and put up signs in yards and on businesses that support his candidacy as well as distribute fliers.
His campaign slogan: “I can’t eliminate the B.S., but I can certainly work to reduce it.”
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