More input needed on Balto. Co. school board bill

March 15, 2010

In regard to the article "Md. lawmakers look at putting elected members on Baltimore city, county school boards" (March 11), it concerns me that year after year the Baltimore County delegation brings forth legislation regarding the school board selection process without making any effort to seek public input.

During the 2007 general session, I closely followed the various bills regarding school board selection brought forth by various members of the Baltimore County delegation. It troubled me that there were three competing Senate bills brought forth and consensus could not be reached.

I held out hope when those efforts failed that the Baltimore County delegation was considering the formation of a work group to learn what the constituency of Baltimore County preferred for school board selection. After months of news articles that claimed parents and community activists were calling for change to the school board selection process, it was refreshing to read that an effort was finally going to be made to formally seek public input. I sent correspondence inquiring about the planned meetings and followed up monthly, but unfortunately this work group never convened.

I was then pleased to have an opportunity to participate in a January 2008 focus group arranged by Del. Steve Lafferty to seek stakeholder and community input as he prepared to finalize legislation established a nominating commission to provide a new and more open process for selecting the members of a nominated school board. This legislation provided for a transparent nominating process that actively involved the public. On March 10, 2008, Delegate Lafferty sent an e-mail informing supporters that he had pulled this bill and provided the following explanation: "Upon reflection, consultation and a lot of thought, I have decided to withdraw my bill. I will take additional time to talk with more citizens in order to address some of the outstanding issues."

As a resident of Baltimore County who has been actively involved in public school education as both an advocate and volunteer for over 14 years, I strongly suggest that the Baltimore County delegation withdraw their competing 2010 legislation (HB1072 and SB 982) and finally convene the work group first promised in March, 2007. Please make every effort to actively seek public input prior to bringing any more school board selection legislation forward.

Nancy L. Ostrow, Woodstock

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