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Schmidt: No Position On School Board Bill, Yet

The county Board of Education is not expected to testify Thursday against a bill creating a partially-elected school board but could take a position later.

When a bill creating a partially-elected school board in Baltimore County gets a hearing on Thursday, members of the county school board will not testify against it.

Lawrence Schmidt, president of the county Board of Education, said Tuesday that the board will not take a position on the Senate bill sponsored by Sen. Bobby Zirkin.

"We've not taken a position on the bill," Schmidt said.

"There's nothing to be inferred from this one way or the other as much as you might want to try," Schmidt said.

In November, the board failed to agree on a legislative agenda for the 2013 Maryland General Assembly session.

Some members of the board worried that such a package might antagonize legislators, some of whom may already dislike the school board. Others opposed stances on individual issues.

In previous years, the board has opposed bills attempting to change how members are selected.

The board received an update on issues in Annapolis at its meeting Tuesday night but was not scheduled to take a vote on a position related to the school board bill, Schmidt said.

That reduces the likelihood that anyone from the board will attend the hearing before the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee. Schmidt said he will not attend nor testify.

He cautioned that the board could take a position later in the session.

"There's still 70 or 80 days left," Schmidt said.

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Steve Kolbe January 23, 2013 at 09:41 PM
Where's the hearing?
FIFA January 23, 2013 at 09:47 PM
All are in Annapolis.
Robert Frisch January 24, 2013 at 03:56 PM
It would be inappropriate for the school board to take any position on this legislation - even at a later date. A few years ago the then all appointed Harford County school board took a public position against the similar legislation to create a blended school board. That action was not well received by the public and the bill passed. Today, only one member of the former school board remains.
FIFA January 24, 2013 at 04:18 PM
"That action was not well received by the public and the bill passed. Today, only one member of the former school board remains." Full disclosure and transparency would be appropriate Mr. Frisch as your suggestion appears to be the election has resulted in Board turnover. Partially true. Mr. Frisch, assuming it is you, you are one of three elected members of the Harford County School Board. The other seven members (excluding the student representative) include a Superintendent appointed in 2009, five appointed (2011-2012) members, two elected (2011) members and one appointed (2008) member. http://www.hcps.org/boe/boardmembers.aspx
Robert Frisch January 24, 2013 at 10:07 PM
FIFA, You are correct I am part of the first group of three elected members of the Harford County school board. At the next election the transition to the blended board will be complete with six elected members, three appointed by the Governor, a student rep (with partial voting rights) and the Superintendent who serves as Secretary but has no voting rights at all. Having elected members of local school boards is the norm in most of the State. Fully appointed school boards are gradually loosing favor in the few jurisdictions where this selection process remains. Perhaps I should have been a bit more clear - Today only one member of the formerly all appointed school board remains. All of our other school board members were either elected or appointed after the law creating our blended board was passed.
FIFA January 24, 2013 at 10:22 PM
Thank you for your reply Mr. Frisch. I am not a supporter of elected school boards. I have looked at the "biographies" of the current members of your Board which I presume are written by the members themselves. I don't discern any significant differences between the various qualifications of the Board members. At this time, it appears people interested in the County's well being are on the Board. The Board members seem highly educated although not all have a background in education. That said, I remain concerned, that a vocal minority of the electorate can "storm" the election and elect highly unqualified candidates. Good Luck.
Robert Frisch January 25, 2013 at 12:32 AM
FIFA, There was keen interest in the school board candidates when I ran for office and I expect the same to occur at the next election. I think that having elected members opens up the possibility for those that would otherwise not seek or be able to secure an appointment to the school board. I would include myself as an example. While it is possible that an "unqualified" (which I believe to be a subjective interpretation) person could be elected I have seen appointed members that would fit the same description. My own observations suggest that whether elected or appointed is no guarantee that the member will invest the time or energy necessary to be effective.
FIFA January 25, 2013 at 12:53 AM
Mr. Frisch, good talking to you. I am a statistical person by my very nature. I base by opinions over what I see when it comes to politicians in general. In the case of down ballot elections, ballot position means a lot. FIFA would be placed in front of your name and would get votes. I find the vetting to be nominal at best in these kind of elections. I believe in a County Executive appt with a Council approval, no different than any other Board in the County. Good luck. Governor selection is silly.
Baltimore County Parent January 25, 2013 at 02:33 AM
FIFA - In Baltimore County, the County Executive sends names to the Governor who does the official appointing. The County Council has no role in the process. The problem with the County Executive doing the appointing is that the Board members then end up being beholden to the County Executive instead of to the public since the public had no role in placing them on the board. When the board members are beholden to the County Executive, they are on a leash in many ways - held back from asking for what the school system needs if it costs any money and puts the reputation of the County Executive in any jeopardy. It's only natural that when someone appoints you to a board, you are thankful and would not want to go against them in any way. A school board needs to be insulated from this situation and from any political or financial wrangling on the part of the County Executive. If the school board is not free to advocate for what the schools need, they cannot do their job effectively. It makes perfect sense if you think about it. When you see it in action, it's quite frustrating. Naturally, no County Executive would willingly relinquish the power to appoint because he would also be giving up the power to control.
FIFA January 25, 2013 at 11:45 AM
I understand both sides of the argument very well, I just don't buy into yours. We elect a County Executive, Governor, and a President to be in charge of those decisions. We get a chance to remove decision makers we don't like. A school system that asks for what it "needs" but is not responsible for having to tax and collect it is a double edged sword as well. Some would say a recipe for high spending. That said, I prefer no nominations be sent to the governor but instead to the County Council for confirmation. I would like it to be a County decision by people we elected in the first place.
Crabsn Beer January 29, 2013 at 11:26 AM
The school system is one of the largest expenses in the count and has the most impact on families and communities. We the tax payers, parents, employers, and voters of the county need more influence and control. Not political back room deals and inexperienced kids being placed in control of the county system.

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