BALTIMORE COUNTY — For the first time, all BCPS middle and high school students will be eligible to cast votes in March 2020 for the next student member of the Board of Education of Baltimore County.
That change is thanks to a new process designed to increase student involvement in choosing who will represent them. The process, spearheaded by current Baltimore County Student Councils President Angela Qian and current Board Student Member Omer Reshid, will enable eligible students to cast ballots in all-day (7 a.m. to 8 p.m.) voting on Thursday, March 12, 2020.
“The Student Member of the Board used to be selected in a room with a bunch of adults,” Qian said. “Then, it was selected through student voting at a live forum with around 200 participants. This was a start, but it was not enough.”
Qian added, “We’re making voting not only more accessible but more democratic by allowing every secondary student an online vote for the Student Member on the Board. That person represents every student in BCPS, so why not allow as many of them to vote as we can? We have the technology that can make it possible, so it’s our responsibility to turn it into reality.”
In the new process, student candidates can appeal directly to students through speeches that will be taped in February and available for viewing in English language arts and social studies classes as well as on the BCPS One online platform.
Students also may submit questions in February for consideration during a question-and-answer forum, which students will be able to view March 10-11 prior to the March 12 online voting.
“Our student leaders have been committed to opening up the selection process to have as many students participate as possible,” said Nora Murray, BCPS advisor to Baltimore County Student Councils.
“This school year, there will be more information available about candidates to more students than ever, who will have more opportunity than ever to let their voices be heard.”
The online period to apply for the student board member position opens Monday, Dec. 2, and will close at 11:59 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 10. Applications for the position will be located on the Student Member of the Board online page.
Much of the selection process will remain the same. Finalists for the position will continue to be selected by a panel consisting of student leaders and BCPS personnel. The individual who wins the student election will still require approval from Maryland’s governor.
Prior to 2016, student members had been chosen and recommended to the governor by a committee of BCPS educators, staff, and student leaders. But for the past four school years, BCPS students and student leaders from middle and high schools across the county have met in a convention to select their recommendation for student Board member.