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School Board Elections: Why Students Should Care

Caroline Dooling

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As students in the Harford County education system, we like to complain about decisions made for our school and for the community, but many never actively do anything to make changes to things that we don’t favor. Most students at our school don’t know much about the Harford County Board of Education, the system, or what proposals that members vote on that effect all of us. 

I must admit that I don’t know much about the School Board either other than the fact that they make most of the decisions for our school. As teenagers and young adults, we don’t put in the time to figure out the mechanics of it because we’re focused on other things that are going on in our own lives.  

So, what is the School Board? The Board of Education for Harford County is a group of members who are elected or appointed to lead the county’s public schools. 

What do these members do? In the Board Handbook that all members must follow, it says, “Under Maryland law, the Board of Education of Harford County is charged with the general authority and control over educational matters in Harford County.” This basically means that they create and adopt policies, that they think, will improve our school environment and our education. 

They also have other responsibilities that I was unaware of. In the handbook, it also states, “In addition to the Board’s general authority over educational matters in Harford County and policy making, Maryland law sets forth many specific duties and responsibilities for the Board of Education.” 

The handbook shows that the School Board members are also in charge of budget, personnel, collective bargaining with representatives and unions, appointment of the Superintendent, and appellate function which is the hearing of appeals of Superintendent decisions.  

As you can see, there are many responsibilities that School Board members hold, so It’s important that we have the right people there making our decisions. 

Elections are right around the corner, and if you’re eligible to vote, you should understand what you’re voting for. There are currently many seats open on the Harford County and candidates will be decided on during the November 6 election and sworn in in time for the next school year. 

Most students in our school can’t vote because they aren’t 18, so how can you get your voice heard and why should you care? 

The School Board includes one new senior, student representative each year and this year that is Josh Oltarzewski from Harford Tech. So, students can have their voices heard through his vote. 

Last year when now C. Milton Wright graduate, Matt Resnik was the student representative he wasn’t allowed to vote because of two reasons. He wasn’t sworn in on time to vote for others in office, but also because the board had decided to take away the student representative’s ability to vote on board members which has now been undone.  

Students can also have their voices heard by talking to voters in your district, campaigning for specific members, attending school board meetings, and/or talking to the nominees in general besides just speaking with the student representative.  

The big question though is, why should students care especially if you’re leaving the Harford County school system next year? 

The students in our school should care because they make decisions on what happens in our school and how we learn just when they decide on a budget. Members also affect the rules that we have follow every day.  

Students in our school should care because when they complain about decisions that are made each year that greatly affect their everyday life, they should realize they had an opportunity to decide who was elected that made the changes.  

You need to realize that you do have a voice in these elections and you just need to make it heard. 

 

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