Based on legislation approved by its governor earlier this year, Baltimore County’s Kayla Drummond, a rising senior at Parkville High School, will be the first student board member with budgetary voting powers.
A $2.6 billion budget that covers everything – from textbooks to school buses, has long excluded one member of the Baltimore County school board from budget discussions. The student board member is the youngest member of the board representing thousands of students immediately impacted by budget decisions, and is often criticized by some for not being old enough to hold such authority.
In her first meeting on Tuesday, Drummond said she was eager to set the example and encourage other students to do the same. She also expressed gratitude to the students who made it possible, including her predecessors, Christian Thomas, and Roah Hassan, according to The Baltimore Banner.
She asserted that her perspective could serve as a reminder to the board of who they are serving.
“Our opinions, beliefs, and things should be valued, especially because we are the school system, we are the students,” the 17-year-old said. “We’re who they’re trying to cater to.”
Additionally, Baltimore City approved legislation granting students the ability to vote; the identity of the person would be determined by a vote in the upcoming fall.
Meanwhile, Republican state delegates, Ryan Nawrocki and Kathy Szeliga, disagreed with the voting power in Baltimore County. Claiming that the student is too young.
In a video, Szeliga posed the question, “Would you let a teenager vote and have control over the Baltimore Orioles?” “Of course not,” said Nawrocki. “That would be ridiculous.”
They made a case that, as children under the age of 18 are unable to create bank accounts, buy vehicles, or buy lottery tickets, they shouldn’t be permitted to vote on a budget as enormous as Baltimore County’s.
Nawrocki also told The Banner that if the student were to vote on how to order school development projects and her school was part of them, for instance, she might have a conflict of interest. As her term only lasts a year, adding that her perspective might be constrained.
Del. Eric Ebersole, a Democrat who sponsored the Baltimore County voting rights measure, countered by saying that while some students might not be appropriate candidates for such positions, they aren’t the ones campaigning for them.
He mentioned Drummond’s accomplishments, such as being a cheerleader, serving on the student council, participating in the college readiness program Advancement Via Individual Determination, creating the NAACP branch at her school, and being a member of the national honor society for social studies.
The legislation also specifies that students would undergo budget training at the start of each term.
Drummond says she is looking forward to speaking up, regardless of what people may think.
“I’m just excited to be the first person to be able to do that… and kind of help figure out like the small details of it and just help improve it, make it more realistic, and better equipped to help more Baltimore County students,” she added.