The County Council and Board of Education promised yesterday to act the way they'd have the county's 70,000 schoolchildren behave: to play fair, talk nicely and get along together.
Led by Councilwoman Maureen Lamb, D-Annapolis, a task force on the education budget completed its work yesterday, releasing a report designed to usher in a new era of cooperation between council members and school officials.
"I'd say that when we started meeting, on a scale of 1 to 10, ourrelationship might have been a 3. Now we might be up to about a 6," said school board and task force member Vincent O. Leggett.
The report, based on a study by former Anne Arundel School Superintendent Dr. Edward Anderson, includes recommendations for easing long-standingtensions between the council and school board. These include:
* Quarterly workshops between the council, school board and county executive on specific educational issues. The first workshop will be held at the end of September, Lamb said.
* A financial workshop, to be held each fall, to review the school system's budget and determine the need for any changes. Though the county budget is finalized in June, the school system's needs change during the course of the year. In the past the board has waited until the end of the year to request last-minute changes -- a move that has rankled members of this County Council.
The task force was created, in fact, after Councilwoman Diane R. Evans, R-Arnold, introduced an unsuccessful resolution urging the county to deny the board's last-minute budget changes.
* Regular meetings between the county executive and school superintendent, as well as between the board president and council chairperson.
* More cooperative arrangements between the council, school board, county executive and Anne Arundel Community College.
"If we do what these recommendations say, it'll definitely work," said board member Dorothy Chaney. "Rhetoric is cheap. If we don't do what they say, we'll still have problems."
Lamb believes the task force's recommendations will work "because all of us are absolutely, totally, completely committed to education."
Still, Leggett said he never expects council-board relations to rate a perfect 10 because the council has more interests at heart than just the school system's. With the school system accounting for more than half of the county budget and with federal, state and county revenues in short supply, there promises to be continual friction over financial issues.
"If we can keep in the 5 to 7 range, we're doing great," he said.