Bids to alter selection of school board appear to fade Ruppersberger, senators dampen hopes for change

February 13, 1996|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,SUN STAFF

Baltimore County delegates are considering several options to change the way school board members are chosen, but the fever to remake the board may have waned.

County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger III opposes any change in the selection process this year, and senators from the county also appear unenthusiastic.

Still, the county's House of Delegates members plan to vote on four bills Friday. Those bills affect only the county's board, so the issue is a local one, according to General Assembly custom.

Some sentiment for an elected or locally appointed school board remains from the controversial term of former school Superintendent Stuart Berger.

Catonsville residents also remain angry at the board's decision last summer to build an elementary school instead of renovating and reopening the old Catonsville Middle School, a community landmark.

Deborah Sebour, an Oella mother of three, told the delegates in Annapolis last week that "people are subject to a dictator-type system. Our words fall on deaf ears."

The governor names all county school board members.

Mr. Ruppersberger agrees with board President Calvin D. Disney that no radical change should be made now that squabbling between school and county officials has calmed and the school board is choosing a new superintendent.

County Council Chairman Kevin Kamenetz favors a bill that would give council members more power. Sponsored by Del. James M. Kelly, a Towson Republican, it would allow each council member to name one person to the board. The governor and county executive each would get two appointments.

Another bill, proposed by Owings Mills Del. Robert L. Frank, a Democrat, calls for a study of the county school system.

Two other bills call for an elected board, at least in part. Catonsville Del. Thomas E. Dewberry, a Democrat, wants to enlarge the board from 12 to 15 members. Seven would be elected, and seven appointed by the governor, one from each council district. A nonvoting student would be the 15th member.

Fellow Catonsville Dels. James E. Malone Jr., a Democrat, and Donald E. Murphy, a Republican, would have seven board members elected by council district and four countywide, plus one student.

But Senate delegation Chairman Michael J. Collins, an Essex Democrat, said he has "detected no interest" this year in electing board members.

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