Advocates for blind differ on board to monitor school

February 08, 1996|By Joe Nawrozki | Joe Nawrozki,SUN STAFF

In a packed Annapolis hearing room, two groups representing Maryland's 10,000 legally blind people took opposing sides yesterday on a proposal for an independent board to monitor millions in state funding for the Maryland School for the Blind.

An independent board would be "good for the public taxpayers and the blind. It would bring the school into the 21st century," Sharon Maneki, president of the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland, told the Senate Finance Committee.

But Gene Spurrier, representing the American Council of the Blind of Maryland, said his group has reservations. One issue, he said, was the panel's membership, which would include two blind people selected from a list prepared by the NFB.

The bill, introduced by Sen. John J. Hafer, an Allegany County Republican, would establish an unpaid board appointed by the governor.

The board -- separate from the school's all-volunteer board -- would be composed of a senator, delegate, representative of the State Department of Education, a finance officer from the school, a student's parent and the two people who are blind. The board would monitor the more than $10 million in state funds in the school's $12.5 million budget.

Harry Wright, chairman of the school's board, said in an interview that the NFB's position made it "pretty obvious the group is attempting to take over the Maryland School for the Blind.

Several parents of students at the Overlea school praised the current board and teachers.

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