Senate OKs bill giving it a say in Balto. County school board picks

February 25, 2005|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

The state Senate passed a bill yesterday to require Senate confirmation of the governor's appointments to the Baltimore County school board.

The vote on the bill was 32-11.

The bill, sponsored by Democratic Sen. Delores G. Kelley, has prompted rare infighting on the county school board. In describing his support for the bill to The Sun, board president James R. Sasiadek criticized the performance of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s four most recent appointees, who in turn called Sasiadek's behavior disrespectful.

Kelley said no Democrats voted against the bill.

Kelley and Sen. Paula C. Hollinger, another sponsor, have made no secret of their dissatisfaction with the appointments. They say state senators are more in touch with the needs of their community's schools than a governor. They also say the public deserves more input in the appointment process.

Critics say the bill would add an unnecessary layer of politics to the appointment process and discourage prospective applicants.

Republican Sen. Andrew P. Harris, the bill's most vocal opponent, said at a recent hearing that the bill would not improve community input in board selection but instead give senators throughout the state control over a local matter. Backers say the full Senate would be expected to ratify the local Senate delegation's preferences.

The bill would make Baltimore County's school board appointment process unique in Maryland. A majority of the state's school boards are elected.

A hearing on the House version of the bill is scheduled for March 17 before the Ways and Means Committee.

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