MCPS Board of Education winners prepare to serve
January 2, 2021
The winners of the election for three spots on the Montgomery County Board of Education, Shebra Evans of District 4, Rebecca Smondrowski of District 2, and Lynne Harris as the at-large representative, are preparing to guide the school district during the COVID-19 pandemic. Students and staff at RM have some thoughts and suggestions for them as well.
Two out of the three likely elects, Evans and Smondrowski, are incumbents. According to an article published in the Bethesda Magazine, Evans feels that her established relationships and encounters with members of the Board and MCPS staff will be a great help when transitioning students and teachers into school buildings. Thus, she knows that she is working with people who “only have the best interest of the students in mind.”
Similarly, Smondrowski expressed that her primary goal is efficiently getting kids back into in-person school.
The article reflects that despite only entering her first term as a Board member this year, Harris has already gained experience working as an MCPS teacher, nurse, attorney, and education advocate. Once in office, she plans to focus on recovering from the pandemic, the budget for the upcoming fiscal year, the countywide boundary analysis, and improving communication with the community. Harris thinks that the best way she can do her job is through knowing about “experiences that are happening and what the priorities are of the community in real time, not the kind of snapshots that have been more typical”.
Some RM students are satisfied with how online school has been playing out so far. Others feel concerned about the urgency and process of adjusting to face-to-face learning, which heavily depends on the decisions of the Board.
“Now that the members are elected, I think the main thing they should do is just get to work,” freshman Joy Jiang said. “One of the things I think [the Board] should be focusing on is a return to school, if that’s even possible this year, and find a safe and realistic plan to do so.”
Jiang expresses that RM has done “as good of a job that can be done right now” with virtual learning. “[I] personally really [want] to go back to in-person school, [but I know] that’s not a valid option right now,” Jiang said.
Some teachers at RM have similar thoughts towards the Board; however, they emphasize more the importance of collaborating with and representing different perspectives in the community.
Science teacher Karl Kovacs hopes that the Board members will continue acting primarily for the benefit of students by listening to them, their families, and teachers; the people who he thinks will understand their needs the best. “COVID caught everyone off-guard, but [the Board] [has] heightened [their] attention to these entities,” Kovacs said. “I wonder if an increased voice or influence should be given to principals and assistant principals as they sit at the crossroads listening to all three of these stakeholders. In my experience, they are the most informed.”
The three new Board members were sworn in on Dec. 1.