Balto. Co. lawmakers push for study before school board elections

Others advocating for action this year; county is one of two with all members appointed

February 02, 2011|By Liz Bowie, The Baltimore Sun

The perennial legislative debate over whether Baltimore County should have a partially elected school board took another turn Wednesday with the filing of a bill to create a task force to study the issue over the summer.

The bill, introduced by the leaders of the Baltimore County delegation in Annapolis, Sen. Katherine Klausmeier and Del. John Olszewski Jr. — both Democrats — calls for a task force to hold public hearings on the issue and to report to the General Assembly on whether the county should have some elected seats.

Bills to create a partially elected, or hybrid, board have been introduced for several years and have repeatedly failed. If the study proposal were to pass, it would put off any action this year to create a hybrid board, though supporters say a study could advance the debate toward a resolution.

The county is one of only two in the state without some elected members of the board. Frustrated by what they say is a lack of responsiveness on the current school board, some parents are getting behind a bill introduced by Sen. Bobby Zirkin that would turn seven of the seats on the board into elected positions after the 2014 election.

Zirkin said he introduced the bill because of his belief that the board would better represent the public if it was elected. "I have always believed that an appointed school board tends to be a nonresponsive school board." he said.

In the past several years, Olszewski said, no consensus has existed on whether a hybrid board would be a positive change or not.

"I am doing this because I want to resolve it, not because I want to delay it," he said. "There have been promises to bring the parties together. This is an attempt to finally make that happen, to formalize that process."

liz.bowie@baltsun.com

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