House OKs bill creating panel to select school board candidates

March 22, 1995|By John Rivera | John Rivera,Sun Staff Writer

The House of Delegates approved last night a bill creating a 13-member commission to select Anne Arundel County School Board candidates. The measure was sent to the Senate, where its future is less certain.

"I don't think it's going to fare very well at this point," said state Sen. Philip C. Jimeno, a Brooklyn Park Democrat.

The proposal, by Del. Michael E. Busch, an Arundel Annapolis, would replace the current convention process in which delegates from community groups choose nominees. Those names are submitted to the governor, who is free to choose anyone for the board.

The process has come under fire in recent years because county executives have persuaded governors to appoint their candidates, ignoring the convention's choices.

Under the commission system, the governor would be required to select from a list of three nominees for each school board vacancy.

The governor would appoint five of the 13 members on the commission, and the county executive would appoint two members. The other six would come from various educational and community organizations.

Mr. Busch said he submitted the bill because he was convinced that the current nominating convention process needed to be overhauled.

"I'm not making any pretense of saying this is the perfect solution," he said. "It just gives people input to the process of selecting candidates, and it gives some consistency to the school board nominating process. In this process, the nominating commission would lock the governor into selecting one of the three people."

Mr. Busch's bill was the only one of four designed to change the way Anne Arundel school board members are chosen that received delegation approval. One of the others would have created an elected board and two would have given the county executive authority to appoint school board members.

Mr. Jimeno said the process should remain as it is. Creating a school board nominating commission would give the decision-making power to a small group, he argued.

"I think it limits public input into the process," Mr. Jimeno said.

He said he introduced a bill to give the county executive authority to appoint board members only as a courtesy to County Executive John G. Gary, and that he opposes allowing the executive to recommend board members.

"I personally met with Gov. [Parris N.] Glendening and asked him not to grant John Gary the right to appoint school board members," Mr. Jimeno said.

John R. Kurpjuweit, president of the Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County, said he has mixed feelings about Mr. Busch's bill. The association has advocated an elected school board for 15 years. In the absence of an elected board, he said, the commission might not be a bad idea because it would keep the county executive out of the process.

"One thing that we are in favor of is that until there's an elected board that the governor remain the person who appoints the board," Mr. Kurpjuweit said. "This at least keeps it with the governor. Until citizens are granted the power to elect their own board, this seems to be a better alternative than the others.

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