At the Student Member of the Board (SMOB) Nominating Convention March 11, juniors Eric Guerci from Bethesda-Chevy Chase HS and Rachit Agarwal from Richard Montgomery High School were voted by the delegates to be the two running candidates for the 2015 race.
Six candidates vied for the on-the-spot votes of 200 delegates as a first vote was held to eliminate 3 of the candidates, and a final vote to choose the final two SMOB candidates for the race.
Most MCPS students are unaware of student government events. Only 200 delegates came to the Nominating Convention, representing 60 plus MCPS secondary schools, leaving the vast majority of students without any say in the vote.
Agarwal said, “Since mainly SGA kids go to NomCon, many great candidates who might not know SGA students have a huge disadvantage in advancing past NomCon. Although technically schools are supposed to advertise NomCon to the whole school, this needs some more enforcement to ensure fairness.”
Although there was a low delegate turn out for NomCon, especially because of the two snow days prior to the event, MCPS gives students more choice in the SMOB than other counties.
“I was just talking to the Howard County SMOB today and she said that they don’t even have an election, it’s just an interview,” Guerci said.
Some students think of the SMOB position as a flashy resume addition. When students review the work of the SMOBs at the end of the year, they appear to not have accomplished much because not all the work a SMOB does is visible or communicated well.
For current SMOB Dahlia Huh, a senior at Clarksburg HS, being on the Board of Education is much more complicated than simply thrusting campaign promises onto the Board to accept.
“You can share your values as a candidate, but there are not necessarily any promises you can make,” Huh said. “Once you’re on the board with eight people making decisions, you can’t make up a policy for example, or hire more teachers by yourself, but you have to work in collaboration with the Board Members.”
During the election season, SMOB members traditionally promise students drastic changes, some even claiming to completely close the achievement gap in their single term. With the SMOB’s limited power in voting on the Board, their primary purpose is to lobby for student interests to other Board Members.
Rebecca Smondrowski, the current chair of the Board’s Committee on Special Populations, said, “The SMOB brings the perspective of someone who’s in the classrooms, in the schools and spending time with other students to express their voice.”
The new SMOB will be sworn in the same day as the new superintendent, July 1, making it an interesting new chapter for the Board with two new officials.