It's a whole summer vacation away and not on the minds of many parents or students, but the next academic year isn't that far off. While such a statement is little more than a mindless truism most years as commencements are commencing and classes are ending, this year by the time summer vacation ends, the group of people in charge of Harford County Public Schools will be changed entirely.
By the end of this summer, only two of the seven-member Harford County Board of Education will remain in office, and the size of the school board will have expanded from seven members to nine.
This transition is the result of a state law clearing the way for a partially-elected school board taking effect. Overall, having elected school system leaders is a good thing. Accountability has been lacking on the board in its current incarnation. Board members are appointed by the governor, to whom they are presumably answerable to, but governors historically have lost interest in what school board members do once they make the appointments.
Presumably, the voters will be at least a little more engaged.
Unfortunately, the elected school board law was somewhat lacking procedurally. As a result, this year will see a rather disorderly transition that will leave the board with little in the way of institutional memory.
Furthermore, the board in its current configuration appears to be in the midst of something of a disagreement with the superintendent, who has been in office only since the summer of 2009.
It remains to be seen if the discontent involving Superintendent Robert Tomback and board members, which appears to be rooted in his demotion of two high school principals, is a deal breaker or a tempest in a teapot. There is, however, every reason to believe as new, and presumably motivated, board members take office over the next several weeks there will be more interaction between the board and the administrative staff that runs the school system. This kind of scrutiny is long overdue, as the school board all too often has acted as though it worked for the superintendent rather than the more correct other way around.
Still, all involved need to keep in mind that this isn't about the careers of administrators or the political ambitions of people entering what is often regarded as a low arena of elected office. It's about making sure our children are educated so they can become productive, self-sufficient members of society. Administrative disruption is a likely outcome of the changes at hand, but the adults involved should do all they can to ensure it doesn't turn into academic disruption.