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Senators Seek Expansion Of Elected School Board Proposal

A proposed amendment raises the number of elected school board members to seven and could jeopardize passage of the bill.

An amendment proposed by a Republican senator would increase the number of elected school board members to the Baltimore County Board of Education.

The amendment requested by Sen. Joseph Getty would increase the proposed elected school board to seven members—the same number rejected by a Senate committee last year.

"I think we should go back to that standard," said Getty, who represents Carroll County and portions of Baltimore County from Cockeysville north to the Pennsylvania line.

Getty said he still intends to vote for an elected school board whether it includes six or seven elected members. Seven districts corresponding with the council districts would make the change easier for voters to digest, he said.

"If you all of a sudden create six new districts it makes it indecipherable," Getty said.

Getty's amendment is the latest in a series of proposed changes that have prevented the county's eight senators from voting on the bill—a necessary step if the measure is to receive final committee approval.

The change, if approved by the county delegation, would return the bill to essentially the same form it was in last year when it was held up in committee by Sen. Joan Carter Conway.

It would also appear to solve a concern over the potential costs to the county Board of Elections, which will be responsible for implementing the new districts.

County Executive Kevin Kamenetz cited the concern about additional costs incurred by the board in a recent letter opposing the school board bill.

It would, however, override an amendment sought by Sen. Delores Kelley to make the new school board districts the same in population with only a 3 percent variation over or under the target number. Current council districts have a plus or minus 5 percent variation.

It is not clear if the amendment to align the school board districts with council districts will find favor in the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee. That committee last year struck the language and created the current version of the bill.

Conway, who chairs the committee, cited concerns that having only four appointed members on the school board would reduce racial diversity on the panel.

Conway was opposed, at the time, to electing the board members from the county's seven council districts.

"Baltimore County only has one black councilman on the council and based on the population it should have more," Conway said, adding that the school board is more diverse because of appointments made by the governor.

"The governor has the sensitivity to make those appointments," Conway said last March.

Sen. J.B. Jennings, a supporter of the bill and a member of the committee, said he doubts the committee will be willing to support a return to the original bill.

"The concern of the committee was that they didn't like that the number of elected members out-weighed the number of appointed members," Jennings said. "They decided to try to equalize that."

Jennings said he plans to argue that the bill only affects Baltimore County and is one that legislators want.

"We should be able to have it unless someone can bring in valid points about an issue they've had with a similar school board," Jennings said.

Sen. Bobby Zirkin, sponsor of the Senate version of the bill, acknowledged the concerns of the committee but the amendment would "remove all the fiscal implications."

"[The committee] obviously had a problem with it but the delegation should do what it thinks is right and the committee will do what they think is right," Zirkin said. "Obviously, the committee has the last say. In the end, I'm less concerned about whether it's seven elected members or six as long as we get a process that brings democracy to the citizens of Baltimore County."

FIFA February 18, 2013 at 04:14 PM
Be careful what you wish for, you might get it. http://www.charlestoncitypaper.com/charleston/nightmare-scenarios-one-happy-ending/Content?oid=4222052
Karl February 18, 2013 at 04:37 PM
Tnx Bryan, great story. From my perspective, all of these proposed or enacted amendments are merely devices to split the county delegation with minutia. We fought our Revolutionary War for, NO taxation without representation." But now we are taxed for our schools, although we have NO representation. Baltimore county Senators, Brochin, Almond, Jennings and Zirkin all support a hybrid school board. However, Zirkin is tempted to accept an amendment-emasculated SB 10, just to get it passed. ABCSchools is adamantly opposed to any ammendment, which would delay the first board election to Nov. 2016!! We would rather see it fail than delay it ANOTHER 4years!! Quoting from the Magna Carta, clause 40, "To no one will we sell, to no one will we refuse or delay, right or justice." [Paraphrasing the next sentence], "Rights delayed are rights denied." Would anyone who has influence, please talk to Senators GETTY (410) 841-3683 or (301) 858-3683, KLAUSMEIER (410) 841-3620, (301) 858-3620 KASEMEYER (410) 841-3653, (301) 858-3653 KELLEY (410) 841-3606, (301) 858-3606 STONE (410) 841-3587, (301) 858-3587 (I placed Kelly and Stone last because they are the most firmly entrenched against a hybrid board and not at all likely to change their positions. I welcome either of them to prove me wrong.
Sanchez February 18, 2013 at 04:55 PM
One anecdotal story is sufficient to deny the people here the opportunity to be on an elected school board? If one Democrat Senator travels secretly tot he DR to molest and rape underage girls is sufficient to not want to elect any more Democrats?
FIFA February 18, 2013 at 05:39 PM
aka false equivalency.
Karl February 18, 2013 at 05:43 PM
Obviously Vicki Almond is a councilman, not a senator. My mental slip.
FIFA February 18, 2013 at 05:51 PM
And the beat goes on about elected school boards: http://www.ctpost.com/opinion/article/Appointed-school-board-is-good-policy-3943768.php An interesting analysis of why you should be careful about what you wish for because you might get it here: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/09/10/1129859/-Are-Elected-School-Boards-A-Good-Idea
FIFA February 18, 2013 at 06:02 PM
How about we propose having elections for the following as well (to name just a few)? Board of Appeals Liquor Board Planning Board Board of Parks & Recreation Electrical Board Board of Elections Personnel and Salary Advisory Board Animal Hearing Board In my opinion electing a school board that can only demand spending by the County without the responsibility of paying for their demands is a recipe for disaster.
Karl February 18, 2013 at 07:27 PM
I don't understand your argument. An appointed school board' only responsibility is to the politicians who appoint them. As for demanding, there is no law requiring officials to comply. Only the electorate can demand compliance or become a former elected official. Electing these boards would be a welcome change from the current county cronyism practiced with their appointments. Even now the County Executive is trying to change the pension appeal process so a board of his appointees, not the Council's appointees, would be making decisions about employees' pensions. Guess whose appointees would be more concerned about the welfare of employees.
FIFA February 18, 2013 at 08:17 PM
Karl, we hire a County Executive via an election with a majority vote. If we don't like his policies and appointments we vote him out. That is our representative democracy. It is that way for the Governor as well. However, I would prefer the County Executive nominate the Board Members and the County Council either approve or disapprove of them. I do not like what the County Executive wants to do with the pensions, and I have let my councilman know. This County Executive barely won the election, he did not get my vote, but I live with the result and will do my best in a couple of years to replace him. He is listening to the wrong voices in the administration and if the Republicans can put up a decent candidate, KK will lose.
Buck Harmon February 18, 2013 at 09:58 PM
The public education system needs to be re invented...appointed positions are representative of the appoint er...that severely limits .opportunities for positive improvement to come from the appointed board. Elected board members will be scrutinized by the public in ways that would create education improvement idea's and opportunity not present with the current process. New faces with fresh ideas are needed ... appointment process is very limiting..
FIFA February 18, 2013 at 10:18 PM
You dream of a world that does not exist. If you believed what you say, what happened in the national election, your worst nightmare, hah!! Elected candidates will receive little to no scrutiny and much of the electorate will either guess, vote for the first name, or skip that part of the ballot. Perhaps at first, due to the newness of the process, their will be some scrutiny? Quickly they will become down ballot candidates with their own agenda hoping nobody will know what they really want to do.
Buck Harmon February 18, 2013 at 10:50 PM
The world that I now dream of will be led by a new kind of mind...The Dems And Repubs have done enough damage for a few lifetimes...libs and conservatives only contribute to the divide and PC political correctness is crippling any progress. Dr. Ben Carson would be a great start to introduce this new American mindset... There won't be any room for a silly little red face on a ping pong ball in this new arena...
FIFA February 18, 2013 at 10:56 PM
Aw Buckwheat, you were doing so well in your speech. Then, just like the trained attack dog you have become, you make it personal. Well, everyone, here is Buck Harmon's Facebook page, you're welcome Buckwheat. I can't make this up. http://www.facebook.com/buck.harmon
Sanchez February 18, 2013 at 11:02 PM
aka, cost of eggs.
Sanchez February 18, 2013 at 11:05 PM
Fifi, are we to be as frightened and paranoid of elected school board members as you are? Have there been no appointed school board members who have gone bad? You seem to be against most things that would give to others the freedom of choice you so desire in only one other area! "DeSoto Parish School Board Member Arrested A man who made news for being elected one of the youngest school board members in DeSoto parish, is back in the news. This time it's for his arrest. Mansfield board member Bartholomew Claiborne is accused of leaving the scene of an accident, improper lane usage, and driving under suspension. Police say he hasn't had a valid driver's license since 2004, because he failed to pay a speeding ticket in Livonia Parish." "Former Paterson school board member arrested on burglary charge A former Board of Education member employed as a public works inspector is accused of taking electronics, jewelry and other valuables from a private residence while he was on the job."
Sanchez February 18, 2013 at 11:15 PM
Liquor Board? Historically one of the most corrupt group of appointed henchmen and protection artists.
FIFA February 18, 2013 at 11:40 PM
Nah Buckwheat, you make it personal then so do I, if you don't make it personal than neither will I. Pretty simple equation, eh?
FIFA February 18, 2013 at 11:41 PM
Then get them on the ballot too Sanchez.
FIFA February 18, 2013 at 11:46 PM
No Josephine, I'm not frightened of an elected school board, my three children all attended public schools. I am merely letting everyone know what occurs with elected school boards. History does tend to repeat itself.
Steve February 18, 2013 at 11:57 PM
"I do find the mindset that you display in doing so to be twisted.." Speaking of which, where is the poster Kongo/Balto Observer/Frank/FIFA/ Steve tonight? I guess his meltdown was complete.....
FIFA February 19, 2013 at 02:22 AM
Buckwheat, you believe you have exhibited above board behaviour? Truthfully? You routinely call me and others names at every chance you get and you continue to do so and then you are now offended about was is available online when Googling "Buck Harmon Facebook"? Do you have no dignity Sir? You like mingling it in the mud until you become offended? Oh, you have a special set of standards for Buck. What goes around comes around Buck. Keep it clean and so will I. Get in the muck and I will join you.
Bryan P. Sears February 19, 2013 at 02:59 AM
Any chance we could actually discuss the story?
Steve February 19, 2013 at 03:05 AM
Ask Kongo, Bryan. Obviously he gets Immunity.
Steve February 19, 2013 at 03:06 AM
How may times are you going to ban him and let him keep coming back?
Kongo February 19, 2013 at 03:11 AM
Aww, poor Steve. Did your little feelwings get hurt?
Kongo February 19, 2013 at 03:14 AM
As for the story, absolutely. Why not 7 board members for 7 districts?
Meg O'Hare February 19, 2013 at 06:10 PM
Citizens are united throughout Baltimore County galvanized around the pulic's desire for elected Baltimore County School Board. Look for this to be a vetting question for the next Baltimoe County and MD State Senator and Delegate elections. Baltimore County has used a divide and conquer approach to retain tight control of government--divide by race and divide by neighborhood. Well newsflash to status quo Baltimore County government and Baltimore County State legislators--the races are uniting and so are the neghborhoods to get elected representation on the Baltimore County School Board. Remember it is the citizens who elect you to srtve them.
Jean Suda February 19, 2013 at 07:49 PM
If comments don't discuss the story, they should not be posted. This type of exchange should be left on the elementary school playground. Thanks.
Buck Harmon February 19, 2013 at 08:36 PM
FiFA Sears...
FIFA February 19, 2013 at 10:17 PM
Buck, check your mirror.

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