District 33 delegates aim to change how school board is chosen

January 17, 1995|By Shirley Leung | Shirley Leung,Sun Staff Writer

The delegates from District 33, which takes up most of western Anne Arundel County, want to change the way the county school board is chosen during this session of the General Assembly.

Del. Marsha G. Perry and Del. Janet Greenip are working on a measure to create an elected school board, and Del. Robert C. Baldwin is drafting a bill to allow the county executive to name board members.

All three say their method would make the board more accountable to parents and students.

"This is a school board that has not in the recent past been accountable to anyone," said Ms. Greenip, a Crofton Republican and former teacher. "That to me is direct accountability. They have to be accountable to the people they're serving."

Mr. Baldwin, a Crownsville Republican, said an election would discourage people from wanting to serve on the board.

"I think there are a lot of complications" with an election, said the 60-year-old contractor. "Having just run for a small district, it took two years to get where I am. If we have an election, we'd be losing a lot of quality people."

Seven adult board members are appointed by the governor, based on the recommendation of the county executive.

The executive is advised by the School Board Nominating Convention Committee, which sponsors a series of public forums and recommends candidates to the executive.

Critics of the process say that too often, the executive has ignored the the convention's top choice.

"The people feel that if they're spending 60 cents out of each tax dollar [on education], people would like to have some say in who is sitting on the board," said Ms. Perry, 58, a Crofton Democrat who is co-sponsoring a school board reform bill with Democratic Del. Joan Cadden of District 31.

Mr. Baldwin's bill would create a system in which people would apply to the County Council, which would forward names to a citizen nominating committee that would, in turn, forward nominees to the county executive.

Changing the way school board members are chosen is not the only education issue that concerns District 33 politicians.

Ms. Greenip, 47, who sits on the Ways and Means Committee, is looking for money to build a West County high school sooner than 1998.

She also wants to repeal the state's community service requirement for graduation, which she called a "nightmare" for teachers and administrators to implement.

In addition to educational issues, Ms. Greenip has taken up the cause of motorists opposed to the new emissions tests because it is tougher to pass, takes more time and is more expensive.

She is co-sponsoring a bill to repeal requirements for the test, which took effect Jan. 1.

"The feeling is that the old one is doing the job. Why get a new one?" said Ms. Greenip. Half of her letters from constituents complain about the test, she said.

The delegates also say they are concerned about the environment, though for the first time in years no one from the county sits on any key environmental committee.

Ms. Perry, a Democrat who spent eight years on the House Environmental Matters Committee, moved to the Judiciary Committee, where she can focus on issues such as domestic violence, adoption and hospice care.

She said she can be a stronger advocate for the environment because she won't have to fall in line and support all bills that come out of her old committee.

"It's not a change in what's important to me," said Ms. Perry, who is starting her third term.

Mr. Baldwin, whose company helped build the Millersville landfill, wants to raise the state's 15 percent recycling requirement to 50 percent. Many counties already are recycling more than 15 percent of their trash, and only a change in the law would increase recycling, he said.

Sen. John A. Cade, R-Severna Park, a 20-year incumbent, rounds out the District 33 delegation. His appointment to head the Budget and Taxation subcommittee on health, education and human resources is seen as unprecedented for a Democratic-controlled General Assembly.

The 65-year-old senator said he is "focusing on the budget and the prospects for tax reductions."

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