Mark McIver: Hearing is crucial turning point on school board

This week marks a critical turning point for the future of the public school system in Wicomico County.

At 6 p.m. Thursday evening at the Wicomico Youth & Civic Center, a public hearing will be held.  Citizens of Wicomico County will have an opportunity to tell state legislators that we want to decide who makes decisions about our children’s education and not leave it to politicians and political appointees.

There are only three of 23 counties statewide that still have all school board members appointed by the governor. Currently the Wicomico County Democrat and Republican Central Committees submit names of candidates to the governor for review.

The governor can appoint any person that he chooses regardless of the names submitted by the committees. Also, there is no formal process for unaffiliated voters (N/A) to submit names of candidates.

There are over 10,000 U/A voters in Wicomico County. Of the seven members on the current school board, none are U/A.  We have an opportunity to change this.

We decide is a grassroots organization made up of concerned citizens that believe a 100 percent elected school board would result in more accountability to citizens, parents and students of Wicomico County.

WE Decide proposes to adopt a 100 percent elected school board system. The easiest and most equitable way to do this is adopt the County Council election model.

The county is divided into five districts. The County Council is made up of members from each district. In addition the council has two members elected at large.

There have been attempts for years to convert to an elected school board.

These attempts have been blocked by our past and present locally elected state officials. In 2014 the County Council and County Executive unanimously agreed on proposed legislation to convert to an elected school board, this attempt was blocked by state Sen. Jim Mathias.

The senator has requested that a series of public hearings be held, and he has promised to support the outcome of these hearings. Interestingly, Mathias represents three counties: Somerset and Worcester counties have elected school boards; Wicomico County has its members appointed by the governor.

For more information, check out our website at wedecidewicomico.org and please come to the public hearing and let your voice be heard.

Mark McIver is chairman of the Wicomico County Republican Central Committee.

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