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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Gazette: SMOB Voting Rights

Student board member voting bill running short on time
Measure running into Senate opposition again
by Alan Brody | Staff Writer

ANNAPOLIS — Legislation that would grant full voting rights to the student member of the Montgomery County Board of Education passed the House of Delegates on Monday afternoon, but still faces resistance in the Senate.
The county's Senate delegation was considering taking up the bill Monday night, after The Gazette newsletter's deadline.
Several student government leaders appealed to the Senate delegation last week to pass the bill so it can be considered by the full chamber, but a vote on the measure was delayed. The House vote in favor of the measure was 92-39.
Student advocates have lobbied state lawmakers for two years to grant the student member of the board, who is elected to a one-year term by county middle and high school students, the right to vote on collective bargaining, budget actions, school closings and boundary decisions. Currently, they can register an opinion on those issues, but it does not count toward the overall vote.
Under the proposal, the student member would still be barred from weighing in on disciplinary matters involving teachers.
Montgomery County delegates overwhelmingly approved the legislation in early February, but several senators are hesitant to allow students the same voting privileges as members elected by countywide voters.
"These are great kids and they're really sincere and really competent, but this is undemocratic," said state Sen. Brian E. Frosh (D-Dist. 16) of Bethesda.
The student member is largely elected by nonvoting residents who do not pay county taxes and therefore do not have the same perspective as adult members, he said. Students also should not have to endure contentious debates on redistricting that can even be difficult for adult members, Frosh added.
"The hardest part of our job here is to say no and you don't learn that before you graduate high school," he explained.
State Sen. Jennie M. Forehand (D-Dist. 17) of Rockville also is uncomfortable granting student members full voting rights, but said she would be amenable to extending their privileges to one or two categories.
The current student school board member, Alan Xie, a junior at Richard Montgomery High School, told senators last week that it's important for the student representative to have voting rights on all board decisions because they directly impact the student body.
"The presence of an informed and franchised student member strengthens board decisions," echoed Michael Hagan, a Damascus High School senior who is president of the Maryland Association of Student Councils, the statewide student government association.
Anne Arundel County is the only jurisdiction in Maryland that grants full voting rights to its student school board member. Several other counties allow partial voting rights.
Staff writer Margie Hyslop contributed to this report.

SMOB Voting Rights Passes the House!

On March 26th, the House voted to pass HB 539 by a vote of 92 to 39. Congratulations to everyone who's worked so hard to lobby for this bill, and thanks so much to all of the Delegates who voted in favor of passing it! You are truly doing a service to the educational system in Montgomery County.

Now, we are waiting on Senate action. The bill underwent First Reading in the Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee on March 25th, and a hearing has been scheduled for Tuesday, April 5th at 1 PM.

The hearing will be located at 2 West Miller Senate Building, 11 Bladen Street, Annapolis, MD 21401-1991.  See this list for the complete schedule; it's important to note that the bills are listed may not be the order in which they're heard. Anyone wishing to testify should arrive in Annapolis and sign the witness register by 12 PM Noon. If you have written testimony, please submit 25 copies to committee staff by 12 PM Noon for distribution prior to the hearing. After 12 PM Noon, please submit testimony at the time that you testify. The Committee will receive testimony from its sponsors (Delegates Kaiser and Hucker), department, and limited proponents and opponents.

Please show up to provide support for the bill or deliver testimony!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Valerie Ervin on the Kojo Nnamdi Show

Check out County Council President Valerie Ervin on the Kojo Nnamdi Show (88.5 FM). She's also a former Board of Education member.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Superintendent Search - Leadership Profile Report

For everyone who hasn't seen it, here's the Leadership Profile Report from HYA about the Superintendent Search. Stay tuned for more info!

This 21-page document summarizes public input about the search, with data disaggregated by stakeholder.

Superintendent Search Feedback                                                                                            

Friday, March 4, 2011

Potential Budget Reductions

Below is Dr. Weast's Revised Summary of Potential Budget Reductions.

Staffing Allocation March 4, 2011                                                                                            

Bethesda Magazine Interview with Dr. Weast

The Last Lessons of Jerry Weast

A question and answer session with the retiring superintendent of Montgomery County Public School.