Harford delegation OKs move to elect school board

Bill would take effect in the fall if approved by the Assembly

February 08, 2007|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,sun reporter

Harford County would make the transition from an appointed school board to an elected panel within three years, according to a bill that has won the approval of the county's delegation to the General Assembly.

The delegation approved the measure by a 5-to-3 vote. The proposal now moves to the legislature, which typically passes county-based legislation that has won the approval of local elected officials.

However, the chairman of the Harford delegation, Republican Del. Barry Glassman, said he is "guardedly optimistic" that the measure will prevail.

"We don't always get local courtesy, especially on what is becoming a statewide issue," Glassman said yesterday. "This is not a done deal."

Several jurisdictions in the Baltimore metropolitan region are considering making the move to elected school boards, largely in response to residents' concerns about board members' accountability.

"I have had more than 200 e-mails from parents, who want to vote for the board and who want accountability," Glassman said.

If approved, the measure would take effect in Harford on Oct. 1 and launch the transition of the board from its current composition of governor-appointed members who serve staggered four-year terms to a panel of elected members serving the same duration.

The current board has seven appointed members, while the school superintendent and a student representative serve as ex officio members. Under the new format, the board would expand to 11: six members elected from current County Council districts, three appointed -- two by the governor and one by the county executive -- and the two ex officio members.

The measure calls for Harford's transition to occur in phases and coincide with expiring terms of current board members. The governor would appoint two members this summer to replace those whose terms expire before the bill becomes law. In 2008, voters in council districts A, C and E would fill three seats. Two years later, candidates will run for seats representing districts B, D and F.

mary.gail.hare@baltsun.com

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