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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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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