Silver Chips Online

Three seats on Board of Education to be refilled in 2009

Top two candidates for each seat will advance to general election

By Charles Kong, Online Op/Ed Editor
February 10, 2008
Montgomery County voters will cast their ballots in the Board of Education primary election on Feb. 12, narrowing the field of five candidates in the At-Large race to just two. Two other seats - for District Two and District Four - are also up for election but will bypass the primary as there are two or fewer candidates running in each race. Students who will turn 18 on or before Nov. 4 will be able to vote in accordance with recently passed legislation.

Candidates Carey Apple, Phil Kauffman, Tommy Le, Alies Muskin and Rob Seubert are running for the At-large seat; Stephen Abrams and Laura Berthiaume are running for the District Two seat; Christopher Barclay is running unopposed for the District Four seat.

Montgomery County is divided into five districts, each represented by an elected member of the Board, Student Member of the Board (SMOB) Ben Moskowitz said. Two additional members fill the At-Large seat and represent the entire county. Members of the Board serve four-year terms, and elections are staggered every two years, according to Moskowitz.

The recently formed Montgomery County Student Government Political Action Committee (MCSGPAC) has already endorsed one candidate in each race: Alies Muskin, Laura Berthiaume and Christopher Barclay, according to MCR-SGA President Ben Elkind. "All three reflected a commitment to working with students," he said. "They have great individual merits, are highly intelligent and have an underlying commitment to progressive values." The Montgomery County Education Association (MCEA) also endorsed these candidates, according to Moskowitz.

The Board of Education is the policy-making body of the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) system, according to Moskowitz. It is responsible for hiring the Superintendent of Schools, approving and allocating a $2.1 billion dollar budget and hearing appeals, according to Vice President of the Board Shirley Brandman.

The Board works hand-in-hand with the state legislature, actively looking for bills that support our education. Its members spend time reviewing correspondence from constituents, examining data and attending meetings and public forums, Moskowitz said.

The upcoming election is especially crucial for students, who are most affected by the outcome. "There is not a government entity that has more of an impact on our daily lives than the Board of Education," Moskowitz said. "It's extremely important that the entire school Board be held accountable by us as students, citizens and voters."

Brandman urges citizens to participate in the elections. "Voters should select those candidates who they feel will provide appropriate oversight, who will be responsive to community concerns and who are willing to put in the time and energy to serve effectively...with a strong commitment to the success of every student," she said.