Bowing to political realities in this election year, Baltimore County's General Assembly delegates approved two identical bills yesterday that would increase the size of the county school board.
The measures differed only in the party affiliation of their sponsors. One version (HB144) was introduced by Towson Republican John J. Bishop, the other (HB671) by Essex Democrat E. Farrell Maddox, the delegation chairman.
The bills would increase the size of the board from 10 to 13 members, and seven of those would be selected by county council district, rather than by legislative district as they are now. Five other members would be picked from the school board's five administrative districts, and there would be one student member.
xTC School board members would continue to be appointed by the governor.
With two-thirds of the 1994 legislative session already gone, Mr. Bishop agreed to push the Democratic measure instead of his own before the House Ways and Means committee, which must approve it before it goes to the full House of Delegates. Mr. Bishop is a member of the committee.
He and other delegates said that, in this election year, a Republican bill likely would be held longer by the Democrat-dominated legislature, reducing its chances of passage by the end of the session.
"I'm not whining about it," Mr. Bishop said.
"That's just reality."
In another bow to political concerns, the delegation amended the bill to keep some control over appointments by administrative district, freezing those district lines in their current positions.
While the bill would allow the school board to alter its administrative districts for educational purposes, it could not change its membership simply by redrawing lines without legislative approval.
If one of the bills passes the full House, a conference committee will have to work out differences with the Senate version, approved unanimously Thursday. That bill requires Senate confirmation of school board members and would create a 12-member board, with seven members from council districts, four at-large members and a student.
The current board has eight members appointed from legislative districts, one at-large member and one student. Lawmakers agree on the need to change the geographic basis for selection because redistricting reduced the number of county legislative districts from eight to seven, and several of the new districts are shared with neighboring jurisdictions.
The school board favors expansion to provide more members to share the workload.
In another education-related vote, the delegation voted to table HB269, a perennial bill that would give the Teachers Association of Baltimore County the right to collect a representation fee from nonmembers.