Incumbent candidate seeks reelection
Junior Sagar Sanghvi of Magruder High School, the incumbent Student Member of the Board (SMOB) representative, will seek to serve for a second term based on a platform of promoting the student views he was elected to represent, including vending-machine reform and clarifying the grading and reporting policy.
"I felt that the Board could use some consistency," Sanghvi says. "The learning period, the learning curve, I've already been through it. I understand the position and I'm comfortable with the position. The board knows where I'm coming from, they know that I am a reliable source, and we've worked well together for over a year."
One of Sanghvi's main accomplishments over the last year was the creation of the Student Advisory Committee, a system he set up to increase the interactions between students and Board members. "What I am trying to do is get a group of students separate from SGA that meets periodically and gets to debate some of the issues that the Board is considering in their next few meetings," Sanghvi describes.
Sanghvi also pushed for delaying the controversial grading and reporting policy, which says that grades can only be given for assignments that demonstrate a mastery of objectives, especially on the issue of consistency with how the policy will be applied.
"I think when the policy was trying to be implemented over the last year a lot of people were on a different page – they didn't understand what the policy entailed, they didn't understand what it meant, and that caused a lot of confusion in the county… I think that just the overall conversation that we had, I think I was really able to put forth the student's viewpoints. I think they took a lot of what I said into consideration before making their decision," explains Sanghvi.
Sanghvi points to this example as proof that the SMOB position is an important part of the Board of Education.
"The input that we bring to the table is so unique and everyone understands that. There's been more than one occasion where something I said or, I know in talking to previous members, when there is something that they said, the Board members go, ‘Oh, really?' And that reaction really symbolizes that what we do is taken well by the Board and is taken well by the general people in MCPS."
Sanghvi opposes the policy of shutting down vending machines because he believes that most students make much more important decisions on a daily basis. "I feel like we should be given healthier choices so we can make a good decision, but I feel like taking away these machines aren't the best way to go."
Sanghvi also recognizes the potential fiscal impact shutting down vending machines could have. "I know that a lot of schools, especially high schools, use the money to fund things like textbooks and popular sports programs and clubs."
If elected, Sanghvi vows to push for a more consistent grading policy, students' choice regarding vending machines and a middle-school cell-phone bill similar to the one implemented for high schools. However, one thing that Sanghvi probably won't push for is double-A exam exemption.
"In talking to the board over this year and the general feeling that I know the Board has, it's an issue that they would never vote for. There's a general feeling that it's not going to happen. You have to pick your battles, and I'd rather save my energy and my ethos, my reliability to issues that I know that I can affect, and really have a voice on, and I don't see it as being one of the more time-effective issues over the next year," Sanghvi predicts.
The main issue Sanghvi says he will work to improve on if elected for another term is communication between himself and his constituents, both by visiting schools and by meeting individually with students.
Win or lose, Sanghvi says that he will continue to serve out his term, due to last for another three months, by continuing to visit schools and talk to students. This year's term has been very time constraining for Sanghvi – he's missed around 50 days of the school year for SMOB duties. But despite the time commitment, Sanghvi believes that the experience has been wonderful.
Says Sangvhi, who's been involved with SGA since a first-grade class delegation, "After serving on the Board for this year, I've seen the difference that can be made by a Board of Education, by a governing body that's so powerful within our county and our educational system. The impact that is made by them and by the student's serving on it is such a great one that I feel like I want to do it again. I feel like, if the student body allows me to do it again, it will be making a good choice."
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