WE HAVE never been able to fully understand why school board elections don’t get more attention. Schools — as has been made painfully clear by the coronavirus pandemic — play a central role in pretty much every aspect of everyday life, and the people who serve on school boards are the critical decision-makers. Not only do they determine how tax dollars are spent, but they also help shape class size and curriculum and who should be running the schools.

Voters in Maryland’s two largest school districts, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, will decide in the Nov. 3 elections who will fill seats on their boards of education. The pandemic underscores the importance of selecting leaders equipped to meet the educational, health and social challenges that have resulted from the months-long disruption of classes.

There are three seats on the ballot in Montgomery County. We reaffirm our primary endorsements of Lynne Harris for the at-large seat and Shebra L. Evans for another term representing District 4. It would be hard to find someone with a more complete background and relevant experience than Ms. Harris. Currently a teacher of medical sciences at Thomas Edison High School of Technology, Ms. Harris is a former lawyer and nurse with expertise in public health. For a decade, she led the Montgomery County Council of Parent-Teacher Associations. Ms. Evans, who currently serves as the board’s president, has provided thoughtful leadership.

In District 2, we favor challenger Michael Fryar over incumbent Rebecca Smondrowski. We endorsed Ms. Smondrowski four years ago despite her spotty first term in office hoping she would learn to become a more effective member of the board. She hasn’t. Particularly disappointing was her vote against a long-needed study of school boundaries. Mr. Fryar, while a relative newcomer to Montgomery County, has spent more than 30 years as a teacher, administrator, attorney and advocate for children, and he offers the potential for more engaged and imaginative leadership.

In Prince George’s County, there are five seats on the ballot, but District 1 incumbent David Murray and District 5 incumbent Raaheela Ahmed are unopposed. Bryan M. Swann, who was appointed to the District 4 seat by County Executive Angela D. Alsobrooks (D) to fill the unexpired term of Patricia Eubanks, is our choice. Mr. Swann, deputy director at the U.S. Treasury Department, brings needed financial expertise to the board, and as both the product of public schools and a parent of two children in the public schools, he understands the needs and priorities of the system. In District 7, we endorse Kenneth Harris II, an engineer who has been working at NASA Goddard Flight Center since he was 16. He has smart ideas to strengthen science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, education and create a classroom-to-internship pipeline. District 8 incumbent Edward Burroughs III is an official we have criticized in the past, but we are impressed with his determination to tackle the problem of persistently failing schools. He is the far better choice over his unqualified challenger.

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