Student turnout on school board post impressive

The Baltimore Sun

Grownup politicians would drool over the voter turnout generated by the election for the new student member of the county school board.

Seventy-five percent of all eligible students voted in the election. National voter turnout has hovered around 50 percent since the 1970s.

This year's turnout is a slight drop, when compared with last year's election, which attracted 19,454 voters, or about 80 percent of those eligible.

Students in grades six through 11 are eligible to cast ballots.

Roger Plunkett, the school system's business, community and government relations officer, attributed the slight decrease to several field trips that took place on the day of the election. Still, he was pleased with the turnout.

"There was a great deal of interest in the election among our students," Plunkett said.

The student member can vote on most matters, except for issues such as appointment and salary of the superintendent, collective bargaining, employee discipline, capital and operating budgets and student suspensions and expulsions.

"Our students take it very serious," Plunkett said. "They realize it is an important election. The student member has a voice, a vote."

Plunkett praised Julie Morse, a junior at Atholton High School who served as elections coordinator.

"It was very well-done," Plunkett said of the election.

Visit by Franchot

Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot visited Clarksville Middle School recently to learn more about financing school renovations and additions in Howard County.

Clarksville Middle is entering the second phase of a two-year renovation. The $13 million plan will give the school a face-lift and expand the cafeteria by 1,440 square feet.

To date, the school has not received any state funding. Schools officials have complained that state funding has been slow to reach the school system.

"Typically when we get funded for renovations, the county forward funds and the state reimburses us," said Ken Roey, executive director of facilities and management for the system.

Franchot visited April 25 to get a firsthand look at Howard County's systemic renovation method, which requires the renovation of a school to be completed during two consecutive summers.

Award for Woodson

The late Natalie Wise Woodson, who was education chairwoman for the Maryland chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and a retired Baltimore principal, headlined this year's group of Friends of Education Awards given by the school board.

Woodson, who died in January after a battle with cancer, was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Other recipients included: Jean Evansmore, a Council of Elders volunteer at Marriotts Ridge High; Colleen Terpos, a parent volunteer at Northfield Elementary; and Don Bard and the Lazarus Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides refurbished computers to students.

The four were honored during the April 24 school board meeting.

The award was established by the board to "recognize and show appreciation to those who have made exemplary volunteer contributions in support of the school system's mission of excellence in teaching and learning," according to the school system's public information office.

Any individual member or business in the Howard County community or any group, organization or business serving the county can be nominated for the award, the school system says .

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