With the second of Howard County's five school board seats about to be filled by an appointee, two state legislators are proposing to change the rules.
Dels. Elizabeth Bobo and Shane Pendergrass plan to submit a General Assembly bill that would force anyone appointed to the school board to run for election after no more than two years in office.
The seat would be filled after the next regular election, the two Democrats said in their proposal.
Other officials - Democrats and Republicans - said they like the concept, but wondered if practical problems could intervene.
"I'm totally for it," said County Council Chairman Guy Guzzone, a North Laurel-Savage Democrat.
Ellicott City Republican Christopher J. Merdon also approved, though he added, "Logistically, I'm not sure it works."
State Sen. Robert H. Kittleman also supports the plan. "It makes sense to me. I've always been for it," he said, though fellow Republican Gail H. Bates said she sees no problem with the appointee serving the full remainder of the term.
Bobo said the idea, which was rejected in years past when she proposed it as a statewide bill for filling vacancies in the General Assembly, is a good one.
"It is simply not good public policy to allow an appointed member to serve most of an elected four-year term," Bobo said in a statement.
One school board member, James P. O'Donnell, was appointed two years ago to fill a vacancy when Laura Waters resigned her elected seat. A second board member, Virginia Charles, resigned recently, and County Executive James N. Robey is expected to appoint a successor this month.
His choice will mean that only a bare majority of the school board has been elected.
Describing the proportion of appointees on the board, Pendergrass said, "It's two of five, which is 40 percent. Twenty percent was not good. Forty percent is bad and 60 percent is appalling."
"I think that anyone being appointed ought to stand for election as soon as possible," O'Donnell said.
But he wondered about situations in which a vacancy occurs too close to an election filing deadline, or the prospect of a very short term failing to attract qualified candidates.
"It takes about six months to establish relationships with staff and other board members and be effective," O'Donnell said.
Sandra H. French, the school board chairman, said she had not heard any debate about the board's situation, but approves of the election proposal. But what the board really needs, French said, is two more members - making it a seven-member body because "of the size of the system and the intricacies of all the issues."
Legislators rejected that proposal two years ago, but they did reduce the length of board members' terms from six to four years.
Under state law, the board may have to expand to seven members when county school enrollment reaches 50,000 - a level predicted in the next few years.
Bobo and Pendergrass said they are confident any practical problems can be resolved. They said a written version of the bill should be available next month and a public hearing will be held in November in Ellicott City.