Because of an editing error, an article Saturday incorrectly implied that the governor would lose the authority to pick Anne Arundel County school board members under a bill before the General Assembly. The bill actually states that the governor would choose school board members from lists compiled by a new citizens commission and that these new members would then run in the next election.
The Sun regrets the error.
After two decades of debate, Anne Arundel County legislators have taken an important step toward allowing voters to elect school board members.
Yesterday, the county's House delegation voted 13-1 to recommend passage of a bill that would create a system that mirrors the way state judges are elected. Anne Arundel would be the only county in the state to do it this way if approved.
Under the measure, starting next year the governor would select from among candidates chosen by a county commission to fill vacant seats. New board members would serve until the next general election, when they would run unopposed to retain their position.
The amendment was offered by House Speaker Michael E. Busch, an Anne Arundel Democrat, as the delegation was preparing to vote on a measure to hold a referendum or straw poll on the elected school board question.
Both the House of Delegates and Senate generally yield to the wishes of local legislators for local bills. A majority of the county's five senators would need to sign on, though, and two senators expressed skepticism about its chances yesterday.
Sen. James E. DeGrange Sr., a Democrat, said he was not likely to support the measure because he does not like elected school boards that do not have taxing authority.
Sen. Philip C. Jimeno, also a Democrat, said he cannot support the delegates' proposal.
"I'm still convinced that there's really no compelling reason to change our current school board selection process," Jimeno said.
That the measure would strip the authority to appoint school board members from the governor drew a cool response from the office of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., a Republican with whom Busch has clashed.
Henry Fawell, a spokesman for Ehrlich, said the governor has not taken a formal position on the bill. "Obviously, he's never enthusiastic about legislation that weakens the office of the governor," Falwell said.
Busch said he offered the compromise because he feared that direct election of school board members would hurt the diversity of the board. Few African-American officials have been elected in Anne Arundel County, raising doubt about whether any would make it on an elected-only school board.
Currently, Anne Arundel is one of eight school districts that relies on a nominating convention to forward names of prospective school board members to the governor, who makes the final selections.
Local officials team with the governor to appoint members to school boards in Prince George's County and Baltimore City. In the remaining 14 districts, members are elected.
Busch argued that a local commission made up of residents with experience and expertise would draw candidates who were reluctant to go before the convention.
County Executive Janet S. Owens said through a spokeswoman that she was "pleased to see that more people could be involved in the process and that there could be broader representation."