April 26 is primary day in Maryland. One might think “Oh, it’s just a primary. I don’t need to vote,” and in some years that may be the case.
But not this year.
The primary election in Cecil County has real consequences for the future of our county–especially for our schools where two of the five seats on the Cecil County Board of Education are up for election.
Structure of the Cecil County Board of Education
The board of education is comprised of five districts and members are elected by the county at large. Board members are elected on a non-partisan basis per state law so no party affiliation is listed on ballots. Terms last four years and a member can serve two terms.
Much of the work of the board of education is governed by Maryland state law and, once elected, board members take an oath to operate in accordance with state laws.
Md. EDUCATION Code Ann. § 4-108 (2016)
§ 4-108. Duties in general
Each county board shall:
- To the best of its ability carry out the applicable provisions of this article and the bylaws, rules, regulations, and policies of the State Board;
- Maintain throughout its county a reasonably uniform system of public schools that is designed to provide quality education and equal educational opportunity for all children;
- Subject to this article and to the applicable bylaws, rules, and regulations of the State Board, determine, with the advice of the county superintendent, the educational policies of the county school system; and
- Adopt, codify, and make available to the public bylaws, rules, and regulations not inconsistent with State law, for the conduct and management of the county public schools.
CCPS Policy BBA: SCHOOL BOARD POWERS & DUTIES link
The following specific duties and powers of the Board are enumerated in Title 4 of the Education Article:
- Required to maintain throughout Cecil County a reasonably uniform system of public schools designed to provide quality education and equal educational opportunity for all youth.
- Appoint a County Superintendent of Schools who shall serve as the executive officer, the secretary, and the treasurer of the Board.
- Determine the educational policies with the advice of the Superintendent. The Board is subject to statutory law and to bylaws, rules and regulations of the State Board of Education.
- Prescribe rules and regulations for the conduct and management of the schools.
- Establish schools subject to the approval of the State Superintendent of Schools and determine the geographical attendance areas for all schools with the advice of the County Superintendent.
- May establish and maintain day and evening schools for adults.
- Hold property vested in the Board.
- Purchase or otherwise acquire grounds, school sites or buildings, or rent, repair, improve and construct school buildings.
- Employ an architect or architects.
- Secure the services of attorneys at law to represent the Board when deemed necessary by the Board.
- Establish such advisory committees as the Board deems necessary.
- Acquire land for the site of a school or for enlarging a school site for playgrounds or for other school purposes by instituting condemnation proceedings in accordance with applicable laws and regulations.
- Consolidate schools.
- Arrange for transportation of pupils subject to applicable laws and bylaws.
- Appoint, on the written recommendation of the County Superintendent, all principals, teachers and all other certificated personnel and fix their salaries subject to the provisions of Section 6-201 of the Education Article.
- Establish, upon the written recommendation of the County Superintendent of Schools and subject to the provisions of the Education Article and regulations of the State Board of Education, curriculum guides and courses of study including appropriate programs for mentally and physically handicapped children.
- Cause to be taken, under the direction of the County Superintendent, a school census.
- May enter into agreements with the County Commissioners for the cooperative or joint administration of programs.
- Appoint during the month of February, a Superintendent of Schools for a term of four (4) years beginning the first day of July next succeeding the appointment. (This appointment must be approved by the State Superintendent of Schools.)
- Enter into contracts validated by the written approval of the County Superintendent of Schools.
- Suspend or dismiss certificated personnel in accordance with the provisions of applicable law and bylaws of the State Board of Education.
- Prepare a budget with the advice of the County Superintendent of Schools.
- Have all accounts audited and made public.
- Make reports to the State Board of Education.
- Have Annual Report prepared and published.
- Cause the American flag to be displayed in each school during school hours.
- Provide and equip the Office of County Superintendent.
- Provide such means of transportation as are necessary for the effective and efficient performance of the official duties of the Superintendent and her professional assistants.
- Upon the recommendation of the County Superintendent, adopt procedures for the selection and purchase of textbooks and other school supplies.
- Establish policies for promotion and graduation of pupils, subject to rules and regulations of the State Board of Education.
- With the assistance of the County Health Department, provide adequate school health services and instruction in health.
NOTE: The list above is descriptive, but is not all inclusive in detail.
Candidates for Board of Education in Cecil County
In District 1 (Chesapeake City), current board of education member and former county commissioner William Manlove is running for re-election against Kevin Emmerich. In District 2 (Elkton), current board of education member Lauren Camphausen is completing her second term and is not eligible for re-election. Her seat is being contested by Erin Doordan, Jim Fazzino, and Ron Lobos. According to election laws, the two candidates for District 1 will compete in the general election and the three candidates for District 2 will be narrowed to two in the primary and those two will compete against each other in the general election.
How important can a board of education election be?
In the last two years, I’ve learned just how critical it is to have a board of education that works well as a team and with the administration. The board of education meetings I’ve attended might not have been exciting but they were professional and productive and I’ve never doubted the intentions of the participants.
I can’t say the same for all the candidates running for board of education.
Your vote counts in this election
Regardless of our party affiliation, we all need to vote in the primary on April 26. (Early voting runs from 4/14/16-4/21/16) But before you vote, learn more about the candidates’ intentions and motivations for running for board of education.