A forum was held on Feb. 5 for students to ask questions to the nine candidates for the Student Member of the Board of Education in the auditorium. Candidates were questioned on issues of budget, safety and mental health.
On the question of mental health, all the candidates proposed some form of expanding the number of employees in the counselor’s office, whether as hiring more counselors or hiring a “specialized mental health professional,” as was posed by Paint Branch’s sole candidate at the forum, Valerie Graham.
One candidate seemed to handle the question well: This school’s own candidate, sophomore Anirvan Ayyagari. He proposed a solution that kept Montgomery County’s already high school budget from becoming even higher: creating school organized student groups for those suffering from depression, anxiety or any other mental health problem.
The lack of respect for budget restraint continued as the topic moved from mental health to the budget itself. When pressed about the massive $1.3 billion annual budget for Montgomery County Public Schools, the majority of the candidates not only supported the high spending, but actually called for even more spending, despite Montgomery County already having one of the highest school budgets in the nation. Ayyagari proposed “prioritizing” funding for school rebuilding in the next fiscal budget.
Later this February, SGAs across the county will vote from a pool including these nine candidates. The top two selected from that will be voted on by all the students in April to determine the next SMOB.