By Caitlyn Freeman
During the bi-weekly Board of Education meeting for Anne Arundel County Public Schools (AACPS) on Wednesday, February 6th, former board Vice President, Terry Gilleland was elected President and Josie Urrea was elected Vice President of the Board. Urrea, a senior at Severna Park High School and the current Student Member of the Board (SMOB), is the youngest Vice President to serve on the board.
The election has been a highly discussed topic between the board and community members. During the last meeting of the board on Wednesday, January 23rd, the board adopted a new policy for board officer elections to occur in December instead of the original June election date. The reason for this change being to give newly elected members the chance to choose the new president and vice president.
Gilleland, a graduate of North County High School who served as the student member of the board during the 1994-1995 school year, was nominated by fellow board member Eric Grannon. Grannon has attempted to elect Gilleland multiple times during past meetings, however, his advances failed due to a break in board regulations.
According to the new board officer election policy, if a member nominates a fellow member for an officer position, it does not require a second by another member.
Gilleland was the only member nominated for the position. After a board vote, Gilleland was elected the new President of the board 9-0.
According to Gilleland, he plans to use his presidency to help lead the board through the transition from being an appointed board to an elected one.
“We need to steer the ship through this transition. I think a lot of people have known that it’s been a difficult time for the last couple of months, because we’ve been on a learning curve that we’re working through. But then also the contentiousness that’s been here needs to stop,” Gilleland said in regards to his role as president.
After Gilleland was elected, it was time for the board to elect a vice president. Unlike the presidential election, two members of the board were nominated for the vice president position.
Robert Leib nominated Michelle Corkadel and Melissa Ellis nominated Urrea. After some deliberation by the members over how to vote with two nominees, they decided to vote for each member separately, with the vote for Corkadel first, since she was the first to be nominated. The first person to reach the minimum required amount of votes to win (5), would be elected to the position. Also during this time, members of the board spoke on behalf of each nominated person, some expressing concerns for Urrea’s nomination.
Julie Hummer, former Board President, expressed her apprehension towards Urrea serving as Vice President because Urrea’s term as the SMOB will end in June, which is before the term for vice president will end. Hummer explained that electing Urrea as Vice President would result in a third officer election this school year.
Leib shared his concerns towards Urrea’s nomination as well. He stated that the SMOB was never intended to become a board officer. As he explained, he does not believe that a student should be partially responsible for the livelihood of the teachers and employees in the county.
Corkadel, who was not aware that Leib was going to nominate her, decided to decline the nomination as she felt she was putting herself, as well as her fellow board members, in an awkward position by forcing them to vote for either herself or Urrea. Leib followed by rescinding his nomination for Corkadel as Vice President in order to “take Ms. Corkadel off the hot seat.”
After one round of voting, Urrea won the nomination 6-1, with two members, Corkadel and Leib, abstaining from the vote.
“I think it’s a good shift for the future and a good stand for our community and our students,” Urrea says about the new leadership.