Mark Twain knew what he was talking about when he observed, "...first God created idiots, but that was just for practice, then he made boards of education." Here's the latest insight into the Board of Education of Baltimore County (BOE). Before hiring Dr. Dallas Dance, a neophyte educator, the BOE took a hike on a key piece of legislature forwarded by the county executive that would have gutted the BOE responsibilities and granted them to a committee formed by elected officials.
House Bill 1281, if passed, would have "THE BOARD OF EDUCATION OF BALTIMORE COUNTY MAY ENTER INTO AN AGREEMENT FOR THE COOPERATIVE OR JOINT ADMINISTRATION OF PROGRAMS WITH THE COUNTY EXECUTIVE OF BALTIMORE COUNTY."
"Agreements made under this section may include the cooperative or joint administration of programs that relate to: personnel, purchasing, accounting, data processing, printing, insurance, building maintenance, and transportation."
It should be noted that the BOE took "NO POSITION" on this piece of legislature, but they did oppose an elected school board.
Picture first the county executive's involvement in personnel. He appointed two individuals with questionable relationship behavior to top staff positions. He appointed a former county councilman who could not be reelected because of several DUI convictions to the position of lobbyist. And, the county executive appointed to an environmental position another former county councilman who chose to "double dip" rather than run for reelection; this individual receives a salary equal to his donation to the the county executive's election campaign--along with a pension.
With that appointment background, one can picture the county executive getting a principalship for his unemployed brother-in-law or a guidance counselor position for one his wife's bridge friends. They need not be qualified, the BOE has already demonstrated they can obtain waivers for unqualified personnel.
Had the legislation passed, this "joint administration" would been involved in "...undertaking and of establishing and maintaining its budget, including the manner of receiving, holding, and disbursing federal and other grants and appropriations...." This would be the same group that lost $21 million in investments and found a method for granting the county executive more than $300 thousand lump sum if he lasted for two terms and an annual pension in excess of $100 thousand.
When does the inexperienced Dr. Dance take office? When would this legislation have become effective? Answer to both: July 1, 2012. It's time to start connecting Board of Education and Baltimore County government dots.