If we trust a student enough to sit on the school board, doesn’t it make sense to let that student vote on at least some of the issues that come before that board?

Seven Maryland jurisdictions, including neighboring Montgomery and Howard counties, seem to think so. Those school districts now allow either full or partial voting rights for student members of their school boards.

Frederick County has so far resisted giving our student board member this ability. The change needs to take place in the state Legislature, and there hasn’t been enough support from the county’s delegation to get the change made.

We’re hopeful this could be the year for a change. And we think there’s reason to be optimistic.

Last Thursday, the county delegation voted 5-3 to support a bill that would give the student member a chance to have a meaningful vote on matters that are non-budgetary items. The bill will next be heard by the House of Delegates’ Ways and Means Committee on Feb. 19.

In addition, Board of Education President Brad Young told News-Post reporter Katryna Perera that he and the other school board members support the bill and plan to write a letter of support.

Currently, the student board member here can participate in school board discussions, but their vote is symbolic — it is recorded for the record but does not count.

Should this latest bill pass, the student board member could vote on such things as setting the agenda for Board of Education meetings, approval of past meeting minutes and other routine items. However, it would still be one of the most restrictive bills of any county that permits student board member voting. They could not vote on any judicial or quasi-judicial matters such as the school calendar or the budget.

And this is a good distinction to consider. Frederick County residents vote for school board members, and it’s important that those who are elected are held accountable for the way school funding is spent and how personnel decisions are made.

But we also think the student board member should have some say — beyond having a seat at the table — in how the school system operates. The member does, after all, represent the roughly 43,000 students who attend Frederick County Public Schools, and is elected by those students.

Giving students some role in setting their own education priorities can only make the process better. The student member of the board has already provided context for the other board members on issues. Limited voting seems to be a natural progression.

Melanie Andrew, a Catoctin High School senior and president of the Frederick County Student Council Association, and Malachi Macon, the current Frederick County student member of the school board, have both worked with bill sponsors Del. Carol Krimm, Del. Karen Lewis Young and Sen. Ron Young this session.

“Our plan is to start with the restricted voting rights so the board members or the delegation can see how the student member runs it and then if [a future] student member wishes to expand the voting rights, it will be easier,” Andrew told our reporter.

We think that’s a smart approach. The best way to build trust with opponents of this legislation is to take small steps. That first step should come with the state legislature giving Frederick County’s student member of the board partial voting rights.

(11) comments

jloo

If Elizabeth Warren is willing to allow a trans 9 year old to select the Secretary of the Department of Education, then Frederick County can let a student on the school board vote!! Let's go!!

Aperiodic.Moralist1

Brad Young wants another Board member to control. He is having Daddy and Stepmommy go to Annapolis and get him what he wants.

phydeaux994

A STUDENT having some input into the SCHOOL Board? OmyGawd, what a bizarre idea!! Oh yeah, I forgot it’s Frederick County!!??

DickD

It might make sense to the editors of this paper, but it doesn't to me! We elect people to represent us, that is democracy. I can see a student being there for advice, but not to vote.

timothygaydos

Yes get their opinion and work with them to have effective change... heck why not have a parent advisor board member that is not elected but can vote just like the student or maybe a school teacher etc...

DickD

Maybe we could all be on that Board, Tim. [lol]

marinick1

[thumbup]

timothygaydos

Bad idea since these students are not elected by the legal voters of the county to sit on the board they do not have that authority to vote. The idea because they are elected by the students of the county justifies this concept and because other counties are doing this seems to make it okay - what a bogus claim. Until these students that sit on the board are elected by legal MD voters during the election process the answer should be NO.

DickD

[thumbup]

MD1756

Not only that but even though they say students wouldn't vote on budget matters, they vote on agenda's which may ultimately impact budgets and since students do pay any income taxes (or probably not much in income taxes) they might be inclined to spend money where it might not be a good investment in tax payer resources.

marinick1

[thumbup]

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