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School Board Compromise Floated

County Executive Kevin Kamenetz discusses one solution during meetings with county legislators.

County Executive Kevin Kamenetz could be talking compromise on a controversial effort to change how members of the county school board are selected.

Kamenetz has been meeting with lawmakers from around the county in the last week in advance of the 2013 General Assembly Session that begins Jan. 9. A number of legislators, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the meetings were private, said the county executive discussed a possible option in which appointed board members would stand for election after being appointed by the governor.

The plan could include the creation of some form of nominating process that includes a commission similar to one that vets judicial appointments. Members of the commission would be selected either by the governor or county executive. Once appointed, members would have to stand for retention election in the next election.

The compromise was first proposed nearly a year ago by Sen. Bobby Zirkin, a proponent of a change to a partially- or fully-elected school board.

Don Mohler, a Kamenetz spokesman, said the meetings with legislators last month were confidential and declined to discuss the details of the compromise.

"We continue to have an open dialogue with Sen. Zirkin," said Mohler.

The discussion may be an attempt to head off another battle royal clash between the executive, who opposes changing the current appointment-only process, and a majority of county legislators who backed proposals to create a so-called hybrid board that is partially-elected and partially appointed.

County legislators came within minutes in April of passing legislation creating a hybrid board. Kamenetz angered legislators by working to hold the bill up in committee. In return, some of them delayed legislation requested by the county executive.

But with framework hammered out, the bill was sure to return again this year.

In August, Kamenetz sent letters to county lawmakers asking them not attempt to change how members of the school board are selected.

Zirkin, an Owings Mills Democrat, responded at the time by saying there was room for compromise  but that "the county executive's letter will be disregarded."

Last week, he struck a more conciliatory tone but said some points are not negotiable.

"We're having conversations about [a compromise]," Zirkin said. "I'm always looking at ways to compromise but no compromise is acceptable if that doesn't give county residents some right to vote for school board members."

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Karl December 03, 2012 at 04:40 PM
School Board members would still be appointed by the governor, not nominated, not elected. Democracy is not a system where only one candidate is on the ballot.
Robert Frisch December 03, 2012 at 05:17 PM
This latest effort to reach a compromise coming from the county executive is nothing more than an attempt to maintain the status quo in some other form. The public and the delegation should not be fooled into accepting such an arrangement. In the end the public will still have no real say. The governor or county executive will still maintain control over the recommendation/selection process. Even if a sitting member is not returned to office by the voters the governor would pick their replacement. This is another attempt to thwart the rights of voters to directly choose school board members with smoke and mirrors and a shell game to deceive the voters. Get active. Contact your legislators and voice your objection to this farce. Do not be fooled!
Mark Patro December 03, 2012 at 08:39 PM
There is no democracy in this "compromise."
Paul Amirault December 03, 2012 at 08:47 PM
Mark and I agree on many things, but not this one. I do not want "democracy" deciding what children are taught in school. There are policies and practices that the citizens should not ever directly vote on. One is making sure are children are taught science and one is making sure all have equal rights, they are one and the same. Neither should ever see a ballot box. Regretfully, equal rights had to endure this last election. I don't want science at the ballot box ever.
Buzz Beeler December 04, 2012 at 06:27 PM
Giving up power no matter how much it cost's ($16 trillion nationwide) is an indicator it won't happen here. We saw it in the CZM voting by the council. What's it called - councilmatic courtesy. These boots are made for quaking may be the song of the day on the west side now though. No telling how far this could go. Paul equal rights does not equate to learning. The theory does the reality does not. Not all school children are capable of learning certain subjects and if push comes to shove money will be the ultimate determination. Teachers now are being forced to read the test to certain students before thy take it and no points for spelling or grammar can be deducted. If these students can't read what are they doing in high school?
Tony Solesky December 05, 2012 at 02:24 PM
All successes and failure found in the format, the people running the operation should be stewards entrusted to carry out a otherwise well founded plan. We continue to believe that the best solution is to elect the best man for a job that has no foundation, as if Mario Andretti can make an inoperable car run better because he is a good driver. The system is broken and those who are attempting to operate it rather then fix it are just as much to blame. I support the idea of an elected school board as the most successful way to carry out educational stewardship however applied to the current format it is a equally feudal application of a misdirected and misguided effort. It does not address the problem. The Failure is in the Format. This is why in Japan one teacher could teach an auditorium filled with children and in the US we believe the issue is overcrowding. So 26 students we have illiteracy 24 and they are all 4.0 GPA I suppose. If you can politically address the real issues you can’t fix them.
Buck Harmon December 05, 2012 at 02:45 PM
How should a Republic respond..?
Arbutus Town Crier December 05, 2012 at 03:55 PM
Buck, America is not a Republic, "border line democracy" is hanging on a cliff. Most Americans have no Idea what a Republic is, Most think its a party "Republican Party" The Republic of America only resides only in there hearts who know.
Arbutus Town Crier December 05, 2012 at 04:01 PM
Tony, the system was broken when politicians made careers creating a democracy, and the Republic thrown out. American citizens see the light, and some are blinded by it.
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