No Vote on Full Voting Rights for Student School Board Members Next Year

After a bill that would allow the student member of the Montgomery County Board of Education full voting rights failed last year, advocates said they are taking a break in pushing for the change.

Advocates of full voting rights for student members of the Montgomery County Board of Education announced that they would take a two-year break from pursuing the issue in the Maryland General Assembly, the Gazette newspaper reports

A bill that would amend the student member's rights to include a vote on collective bargaining, capital and operating budgets and school closings, openings and boundaries cleared the House last March before being stalled in the state Senate, Patch reported. 

Last year, one of the proposal's opponents, Sen. Brian E. Frosh (D-Bethesda) said he believed the issues were "too complicated and burdensome" for students. 

Sen. Delores G. Kelley (D-Randallstown) said she felt the Senate would “rue the day” it voted to allow children to put the burden of school board decisions onto other children.

Del. Anne Kaiser (D-Burtonsville) created a similar measure in advance of the 2013 session of the assembly, which begins Jan. 9, but rescinded it after speaking with the current student member of the school board, John Mannes, the newspaper reported. It will be the first time in five years that a bill like this will not be taken to a vote. 

Mannes, a senior at Northwest High, said he wants to use the time to gather support for the idea, which elicited approval from the Montgomery County Education Association and the Board of Education last year. 

"They have been impressed over the years with the young adults who have served with them and are willing to support them having a greater say and a greater vote on some very big issues," Kaiser said about board of education members.

Montgomery County Council member Roger Berliner (D-Potomac) told the Gazette that the school system's $2.2 billion operating budget is too large for students to make decisions about and approve. 

School board members and Mannes said that they would still be working on the issue, even though a bill isn't being pursued. 

What do you think: Should student members be able to vote on more important school decisions? 


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