The past week has been a difficult one for those of us who support elections for Baltimore County school board members, as the task force looking at school board reform voted on the concept without participation from three members.
But there are some very hopeful signs coming from one leader on the Baltimore County Board of Education.
When Larry Schmidt became president of the school board this summer, he promised change. I can tell you that several members of the County Council, including myself, are very happy with some of his early moves.
First, the school board passed changes that ease the community’s access to public school property. For more than two years, community associations and other groups had complained about their ability to hold craft fairs, meetings, and other activities. Within six weeks of taking office as president of the board, Mr. Schmidt and other Board members had approved revisions to the controversial rule.
Mr. Schmidt told Patch that "people who were not happy are going to be happy," and he was right.
Second, the school board developed a list of capital project priorities that reflect real community needs. Mr. Schmidt personally toured Stoneleigh Elementary School, which has some of the most overcrowded classrooms in Baltimore County. The addition at Stoneleigh Elementary School is a top priority for funding in the next fiscal year.
Third, I have been very impressed with Mr. Schmidt’s overall responsiveness. During the days after Hurricane Irene, many schools were closed due to power outages. I learned that the Perry Hall Recreation Council was barred from using the fields at Perry Hall Elementary School, even though they were unaffected by the storm. Within hours of my phone call to Mr. Schmidt, he had explained the reason for the rule and promised action to revise it.
I still support an elected school board because it is the best way to have permanent local accountability, and I still disagree with the recent actions of task force on school board reform. But I want to give credit where credit is due. In his first few weeks, the president of the school board has made some very important changes, and I want to publicly thank him.