School board seeks voice in filling panel vacancies

Plan would let members submit names to governor

Carroll County

October 12, 2004|By Gina Davis | Gina Davis,SUN STAFF

Carroll County's school board members, concerned about ensuring a local voice when it comes to filling vacancies on the five-member panel, are considering a proposal that would allow them to recommend replacements to the governor.

"The overwhelming sentiment is that people in the county should be ... heavily involved in the process to replace board members outside of the regular election process," board President C. Scott Stone said yesterday.

When school board vacancies occur, the governor appoints a replacement, a process that applies to nearly all of the state's school systems, he said.

"We could probably send letters to the governor with people we'd like to see on the board," said board Vice President Gary W. Bauer. However, there is no formal mechanism by which the local board can make recommendations about replacements.

The board's recommendation "would put in place a process to get names to the governor," said schools Superintendent Charles I. Ecker.

The board's proposal, which appears on the agenda for tomorrow night's meeting, would empower members to submit a name for the governor's appointment.

Board members would submit a candidate's name within 30 days of the vacancy and the governor would have 15 days to make his appointment. The appointment would be for the remainder of the departing member's term.

It is unclear whether the governor would be bound by the local board's recommendation.

The proposal, which Stone drafted, is modeled after the replacement procedure for the state Senate and House of Delegates.

The legislative replacement procedure enables the political party central committees to send names to the governor. The process is laid out in the Maryland Constitution, Stone said.

The board is expected to vote on the proposal at its Oct. 27 meeting. If the proposal is approved, the board will then ask the Carroll County delegation to introduce it as legislation during the coming General Assembly.

If the legislature gives Carroll County's school board the right to recommend replacements to the governor, Stone said he expects that the board "would immediately develop a process that it would follow," such as advertising vacancies, interviewing candidates and public participation.

Stone, who has served on the board for 12 years, said he could not recall a board vacancy. But he said the prospect of vacancies in recent months prompted board members to consider the replacement process.

"There were a couple occasions where the board discussed the very real possibility that a board member may leave," he said.

Those occasions included Stone's candidacy this summer for a seat in the House of Delegates after the appointment of Del. Carmen Amedori to the Maryland Parole Commission. Board member Laura K. Rhodes also applied in the summer for a job with Carroll County government that board members thought might pose a conflict of interest with her role on the board. Stone was not selected for the House seat, and it was later determined that Rhodes' job with the county did not directly involve the school system.

Those two situations caused the board to consider the process for filling vacancies, and they learned that the governor has the sole responsibility of appointing replacements.

"The law is silent about how names would be presented to the governor," Stone said. "It would be nice ... if we could, as a board, participate in the process."

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