UPPER MARLBORO – Prince George’s County Council unanimously voted in favor of approving Bryan M. Swann to hold for the vacant District Four seat in Prince George’s County Board of Education on Jan. 14.
Swann was nominated by County Executive Angela Alsobrooks on Nov. 20, citing his experience at the U.S. Department of Treasury as the deputy director of the Office of Financial Management. The seat has been vacant since former representative Patricia Eubanks resigned last September. He graduated from Largo High School and is currently the parent of two children who attend Chesapeake Math and Information Technology (CMIT) School.
Family members joined members of the board of the education, including Chair Alvin Thornton, to attend the public hearing in a show of support for Swann. Before the vote, Swann said he looks forward to getting started to work and answering parents’ concerns about the school system. No individuals spoke during the public hearing portion.
“We look forward to your service on the board of education,” Chair Todd Turner (D-4) said. “Seeing some of your new colleagues here already in support, and we look forward to your work on behalf of, not only your children, our children, all the children represented here but all the children in this county.”
On Jan. 7, Swann met with the council during its Committee of the Whole meeting, where council members asked him questions about his qualifications as well as what he plans to do in the role.
During his introductory statements to the council, Swann called himself a product of Prince George’s County and was born in a household that treasured education. His mother was an educator in the county who recently retired. When he was growing up with his twin brother, “innovation” was encouraged in their household.
“The biggest thing for me with this position is God works in mysterious ways, and sometimes, you get called to serve,” Swann said. “And in my whole life, that has been my journey. Whether it was in the Marine Corps, whether it was with President Obama for five years, my current position at the department of treasury, or even this moment now, we need people to serve, and I believe in that.”
He said that he would bring a “grassroots” mentality to the role, brought on by his years of public service. After graduating from the University of Maryland, College Park, and Harvard University, Swann worked in the White House during the Obama administration and in the U.S. Department of Defense.
When asked by Turner about what areas he would like to focus on once appointed into the role, Swann said he needs to “listen first” before answering that question.
“In my training, we have been taught to be customer-centric,” Swann said. “I really want to listen to the constitutes in District 4 and even around the county, because I believe that there is a challenge that the board has to face: How do you represent a particular district while at the same time, do what is best of the whole county and balancing those priorities.”
Swann highlighted his work in the Department of Treasure as a positive attribute to the role. He managed budgets of upwards of $2 billion and completed follow-ups to ensure all funding is being utilized.
Swann highlighted his work in the Department of Treasure as a positive attribute to the role. He managed budgets of upwards of $2 billion and completed follow-ups to ensure all funding is being used.
Councilmember Derrick Leon Davis (D-6) raised his concerns about Swann’s longevity in the role and asked if he plans to run to keep the position when an election follows.
Swann said that he would, in which Davis requested that he work with the school board in providing more updated and consistent reporting on the funding provided to Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) is being used.
“We had 20 years lapse between a performance audit and the next performance audit,” Davis said. “We changed that idea to a process of continuous business improvement and that is essentially the mechanism; we funded it, it is there and we want to communicate jointly.”
Councilmember Jolene Ivey (D-5) praised Swann for going out his way before the meeting to meet with her and attending civic association meetings in order to get to know residents. District 3 Councilmember Dannielle Glaros (D), whose area along with Ivey’s will be covered by Swann if elected, agreed with his selection by the county executive’s office. Both gave their public support for his nomination for his selection.
Councilmember Deni Taveras (D-2) was direct with her questioning, stating her relationship of how close her district is to Swann’s coverage area. Taveras asked what problems he sees in District 4, and Swann said he sees issues of transparency and being accountable but did not name a specific topic.
He did list communication throughout the system must be better. Even just responding to emails and explaining why something can and cannot be done goes a long way in improving the school system’s current image, Swann said.
“Having a dialogue and making sure that the parents and the communities can depend and have someone who to hold accountable but truly look at their concerns and follow back up with them and just be a partner in how we all manage our community, our home,” Swann said.
The council voted 11-0 in favor of filing a file a letter of recommendation ahead of Jan. 14’s public hearing. Following his swearing in, Alsobrooks called his addition to the board of education “an asset” and looks forward to see him working in the school system.
“I am very grassroots, get into the weeds person,” Swann said. “I feel like it is the only way I can truly understand the issues relate to the people that I have been chosen to represent.”