Student voice

Senior runs for Brevard County School Board as youngest candidate
Senior Max Madl stands in front of the Brevard Public Schools building in Viera.
Senior Max Madl stands in front of the Brevard Public Schools building in Viera.
Missy Madl

By day, Max Madl, a senior at Viera High School, is a typical overworked student — racing between classes, studying for exams, and applying to colleges. But Max has another identity that fills his nights and weekends: a political candidate. At just 18 years old, Max has launched a campaign for a seat on the Brevard County school board, positioning himself to become one of the youngest school board members ever elected in the county’s history if he wins.
“During my time as a student in the Brevard Public Schools system, I have witnessed many mistakes made by the school board that could easily have been resolved,” Max said. “The recent political climate on the board has only made this matter worse. Board members are more focused on arguing with each other over irrelevant subjects than focusing on their constituents and their concerns. [I want to] bring back serving every student with excellence as the standard and extinguish the political catastrophe our board has become. The best way to do this is to put a student in District 4’s seat, someone who’s been through the system.”
Another driving factor for Max’s campaign bid is the state of students’ mental health.
“Another big factor that played into me filing to run was the lack of mental health resources in our county,” he said. “What I can tell you is there’s a big mental health crisis going on inside of our schools.”
Max’s mother, Missy Madl, a teacher with 27 years of experience, said her son has always been very involved in school activities and committees.
“He’s into everything,” Missy said. “He’s very involved in everything at school, inside the community, and even in committee meetings the past two years. He’s very involved in wanting to know what’s going on throughout the year, the whole system, the school system, and not only as a student, but he asks me questions from the perspective of a teacher as well. Get to know him. Look at his platform.”
Max credits his parents as his biggest sources of inspiration and support throughout the process of developing his campaign.
“All the photos that you see taken of me, pretty much were taken by them,” he said. “I had them review my website before I even filed to run. I had that done months ago. I had them review different things like social media pages that are getting prepped and ready to go for the campaign. They’re my second set of eyes on things.”
If elected, Max said he wants to place a priority on career and technical education programs. Brevard County offers over 40 career and technical education programs across its schools. These programs give students technical knowledge and job skills to supplement their academic learning. They prepare students for college and career opportunities after high school.
“College isn’t the answer for everybody,” he said. “Some kids are going to go into the workforce, some kids are going to go into the military and some kids are going to go to trade school. I think those careers are able to give you firsthand experience while still inside of the classroom.”
Additionally, Max said he wants to address school safety concerns he hears from parents. The Brevard school district has been making security upgrades to its 82 schools since 2014. These upgrades include installing 6-foot fences, security cameras and remote-controlled locks. To fund these $6.4 million worth of security projects so far, the district has used money from a county-wide half-penny sales tax that residents voted for in 2014.
“A parent’s biggest concern is probably ‘is their child going to be safe in school,’” he said. “But the one thing I will say is more often than not, the way an intruder ends up inside of a school and a lock down situation happens is when something is left open at this point; if it’s a door that’s propped opened, something wasn’t blocked properly, whatever it may be, we need to start taking accountability for the people that leave these things open because they are threatening student safety.”
Max has a system to balance school and his campaign.
“At the high school level, I am currently only taking one honors level course, and then I have my three dual enrollment courses,” he said. “I have a planner. I got it from Target, and I fill it out pretty much every day. If not, I fill it out once a week and I try to fill up my entire week to get a basis of knowing what I’m going to do at what time.”
Leveraging dual enrollment courses as a senior, Max is on track to graduate with an associate’s degree.
“After I graduate high school, I plan to attend a four year university,” he said. “I do plan on staying in state of course. I do not know where yet, but obviously it’s going to have to be around here. After my two years to my bachelor degree, I plan on attending law school somewhere as well.”
Win or lose in November, Max said he is proud of the awareness he has raised.
“I want our students to be heard,” he said. “I want to be able to show the board how their policies directly impact students, and I want the board to be able to see that back.”