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Anne Arundel Delegates Vote To Support Elected School Board

After the delegation voted 9-3 to support the bill, it now heads to the Maryland House of Delegates' Ways and Means Committee for a hearing.

Anne Arundel County's delegates in Annapolis voted 9-3 Friday to support a bill that would add elected officials to the county school board.

The legislation, House Bill 367, calls for establishing a "hybrid" school board with a five-member majority elected by county residents for the first time. 

Currently, the nine-member Anne Arundel County Board of Education is one of four districts in the state whose positions are entirely appointed by the governor.

Sponsored by Del. Steve Schuh (R-District 31), House Bill 367 would maintain three governor-appointed seats and reserve one board position for a student member. 

House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-District 30) did not attend the voting Friday morning. Below is a breakdown of how the delegates voted.

For: 

  • Del. Pamela G. Beidle (D-District 32)
  • Del. Ronald A. George (R-District 30)
  • Del. Herbert H. McMillan (R-District 30)
  • Del. Steven R. Schuh (R-District 31)
  • Del. Cathleen M. Vitale (R-District 33A)
  • Del. Tony McConkey (R-District 33A)
  • Del. Robert A. Costa (R-District 33B)
  • Del. Don H. Dwyer Jr. (R-District 31)
  • Del. Nicholaus R. Kipke (R-District 31)

Opposed:

  • Del. Theodore J. Sophocleus (D-District 32)
  • Del. Mary Ann Love (D-District 32)
  • Del. Joseline A. Pena-Melnyk (D-District 21)

Absent:

  • Del. Michael E. Busch (D-District 30)
  • Del. Benjamin S. Barnes (D-District 21)
  • Del. Barbara A. Frush (D-District 21)

The bill now heads to the House of Delegates' Ways and Means Committee and, if passed, it will proceed to the full House for a vote.

Steve Holcomb March 10, 2012 at 04:28 PM
While I disagree with the tone of an earlier commenter, suggesting that an appointed school board is better, the earlier comments about the possibility of this dying in another committee are spot on. If you believe in democracy, if you want to see this bill pass, if you want our children to have a better school board that reflects the values of ALL the citizens of Anne Arundel County, I encourage you to email Speaker Busch and ask him to let this bill get to the House floor for a vote. Email him at: michael.busch@house.state.md.us
Amy Leahy March 10, 2012 at 04:29 PM
With all due respect Mitchelle Worden Stephenson, you have confused the facts on the just about everything you said regarding the history of and appointment of the school board and the nominees.
Amy Leahy March 10, 2012 at 04:36 PM
Wow Julie! You go girl. Glad you are on the same side I am. Our school board and the superintendent are so tight with one another you'd think they were cut from the same mold. To use another analogy, it's like the fox watching the hen house. Now they also have complete control of the Citizen's Advisory Committee.
Amy Leahy March 10, 2012 at 04:44 PM
Beware of another piece of legislation coming down the pike....the counties will be given authority to raise taxes - for the school board - by exceeding the tax cap on our property taxes. This is our state legislators giving some of the counties (Anne Arundel included in this) permission to step over a county mandated tax cap that's been in place for over 20 years. In other words the county council will not have to dirty their hands by raising our taxes in order to fund the Governor's initiative that the counties take over funding the teacher's pensions.
Jim Davis March 10, 2012 at 04:50 PM
The only way the citizens of AACO will have control of their schools and the tax money collected to run them is to have a 100% elected school board. It is absurd to have the Governor appoint a member who is nominated by from a School Board Nominating Commission. All members should be elected and accountable to the citizens of the County. This way if they do something we don't like we can replace them at the next election. They should not be accountable, in any way to the Governor, County Executive or the Superintendent. They alone are responsible for the education of the children and their accountability must be to the parents and citizens. The Superintendent works for them, not the other way around.
Amy Leahy March 10, 2012 at 05:16 PM
Agree with your assessment, Jim Davis. Additionally the school board should have taxing authority, thereby making them completely accountable to the citizens. That's also the only way to keep the accountability factor away from the county executive and the county council. Disassociation.
Amy Leahy March 10, 2012 at 05:19 PM
For accurate information on the school board and the nominating commission, I refer you to J.H. (Jim) Snider's blog in the Patch.
Steve Holcomb March 10, 2012 at 06:08 PM
While I understand the need for total accountability, any attempt to give the School Board independent taxing authority is a non-starter in this economy. This needed change in electing members of the School Board is already problematic enough in this County without adding the dealbreaker of taxes to the mix!
Jim Davis March 10, 2012 at 07:30 PM
Steve is right. The last thing we need is another taxing authority. The move by the State to override the County Charter and the will of the citizens of AACO is nothing but usurpation of power. The Owe 'Taxman tax and shift program, while possibly legal is totally immoral. How low he will go was demonstrated by the so called Doomsday Budget. By only threatening essential programs and leaving all the "feel good vote buying" ones alone he scared the population into accepting his tax hikes. The time has long since come to get rid of all the professional politicians and relegate them to the same trash can as the professional prostitutes.
Angie Carroll March 10, 2012 at 07:51 PM
Again, thank you Patch for covering this topic. The school system in any county is about 50% of the entire budget for that county. For Anne Arundel, this means our all appointed board solicits and controls about $950 million of our tax dollars. For those that contend that appointed boards are less political - attend one of ours, next one Wed March 21st, 7 pm at the Riva offices or on Comcast ch 96 or Verizon ch 36. Politics is part of any body that touches public monies. Thank you Julie for all your hard work too...with more to come.
Julie Dettor March 10, 2012 at 10:54 PM
Just so you all know - currently NONE of the 24 public school districts in this State have taxing authority...NONE!
patricia March 12, 2012 at 12:56 AM
I think it is FANTASTIC that there are so many people replying to this blog. That means people are paying attention to what is going on. If we leave it up to O'Malley Miller & Busch, the Md. Gazette and the Sun Paper, we'd never know what was going on, cause they don't want us to know. Keep up the good work people.
Amy Leahy March 12, 2012 at 01:57 AM
Agreed Steve Holcomb.
Amy Leahy March 12, 2012 at 02:12 AM
Jim Davis - I have to tell you that the selection of our school board is not part of the county charter but the Annotated Code of Maryland - every county is included in this charter. The tax cap is proposed to be lifted by the legislators only because the governor wants to push the funding of pensions onto the counties because he hasn't funded them since he's been in office. I'll tell you that the bill is in the tens of millions for the first year and more in the second year.
Chris March 12, 2012 at 01:05 PM
Hey Joselyn P-M, what the @#%! Are you doing. How can you NOT support this?
DioDingo March 12, 2012 at 02:42 PM
I see what you are saying, I think I'm for a hybrid board. I've seen what happens (in NC) when you have an all elected board. The board hijacked the schools and turned back the clock. They changed the standard of school back to segregation. We the people need to have a voice, and strong voice, but sometimes we need to be kicked over the ideological hump of our own prejudice. A hybrid board would hopefully give a more diverse group that will lead us to a better tomorrow. I know that's a bit sunshine and butterflies but we have to think that those people who are trying to run the schools have the best for the schools/students at heart. I know I'm deluding myself but if we expect the worse then we get the worst.
Steve Holcomb March 12, 2012 at 03:40 PM
While I respect the concerns about educating all our children equally and placing them all on equal footing, I don't agree with the slippery slope argument that an elected school board can "turn back the clock," especially in a State like Maryland. Maryland is not North Carolina. I also have a hard time agreeing that a school board with no accountability to the electorate is an acceptable way of managing public education. Eighteen (18) out of twenty-four (24) jurisdictions in Maryland have an elected school board. This includes, but is not limmited to Montgomery County and Prince George's County. Anne Arundel is in the minority when it comes to providing a democratically elected School Board. Further, there are ways to make sure that, even in elected government, that all voices can be represented. It includes a combination of districting and at-large members. Ultimately, the current system of selecting School Board members by an appointed committee of insiders goes against the fundamental values of a representative democracy. Frankly, since the School Board is allocated a significant portion of our tax dollars for its operating and capital budgets, the system in place is akin to taxation without representation. We, the people of Anne Arundel County, deserve better.
Amy Leahy March 12, 2012 at 04:15 PM
Beautifully stated, Steve. The taxation without representation part of that is the main reason for the discord between the county executive & the school board. That body receives over 50% of our budget - and state & federal funds to boot - without real accountability. My concern with the hybrid board is that the majority of the members will still be appointed by the governor who will consistently outvote the elected ones. Now that's assuming elected members will be more conservative than their counterparts. This was certainly the case when we had two conservative members (the two having been appointed by Gov. Ehrlich) who no longer sit on the board.
Julie Dettor March 12, 2012 at 04:32 PM
Just to make you all aware - HB367 was Amended to a Hybrid School Board Bill - The Amended version is what was passed on Friday by the Delegation. The Amended Version calls for 3 Governor appointed members, 5 elected members (1 from each legislative district) & 1 student. The Amended Version of the Bill has not been posted to the General Assembly website yet.
Julie Dettor March 12, 2012 at 04:33 PM
A majority of the members will be elected to the school board!
Julie Dettor March 12, 2012 at 04:46 PM
I emailed Mr. Moynihan the Amended Bill language that I received from Del. Schuh. Hopefully it can be posted to this article. Also, WBAL TV covered this on the news Friday night! http://www.wbaltv.com/news/30648850/detail.html
Steve Holcomb March 12, 2012 at 05:05 PM
Thanks, Julie. I looked at the original bill on the website and was confused. The amended bill sounds like a great start. However, it still needs to get out of committee. I would encourage anyone who supports an elected School Board to forward this article to your friends and neighbors, as well as County political organizations. Speaker Busch and Delegate Sheila Hixson (Chair of Ways and Means) need to hear that the community supports this bill to keep it from dying in committee.
DioDingo March 12, 2012 at 05:53 PM
Maryland is not NC, I was talking about the Raleigh area which is bit more like MD then the rest of the state. I wont argue the point however. I was advocating a mixed board with the majority voted into office. I don't like the argument however that "since most everyone else is doing we should too" Just because its working doesn't mean its best. Our current board has been operating for some time with the normal amount of hue and cry. I'm not sure "insiders" is how the committee was described. I believe it is a combination of parents/teachers and administration that vet a group of prospective candidates that are then passed on. Yes, this does give up our right to vote. That is why I'm for the hybrid model. Give us a chance to make crazy rash decisions based on what knowledge we can glean from the web, meetings and lip service. Its also nice to know that their is a group of trained people working as a keel. We haven't even thought of the corparte lobbing of elected school board officals by large companies. If companies are people, only when its helpful for them to be, we would expect text book, bussing and all the other school related service corps to get involved in something that should be non-partisan. We'll have text books both teaching the
Jim Davis March 12, 2012 at 06:05 PM
The only way the citizens will have any say with the School Board is to have them elected. As has been pointed out they control half the AACO budget and under the present rules are accountable only to the Governor. However to really gain control of the schools we need to have a change in the structure of the Board itself. Having the Superintendent, who is an employee of the Board, and hired by them, occupy both the executive and treasurer positions makes it hard for the general members to control operations, budget and plans. http://www.aacps.org/aacps/boe/board/newpolicy/Sections/section_200/policy201.01.pdf
Julie Dettor March 13, 2012 at 02:06 PM
Now that HB367 is going back to Ways and Means, it will be reviewed by the Education Subcommittee, of which AA Del. Ron George is on. We all need to contact the chair of this group, Del. Anne Kaiser from Mo Co, to encourage a favorable vote on it. There is only 4 wks left in session, and we don’t want it to die. Del. Kaiser’s contact info is: anne.kaiser@house.state.md.us, #410-841-3036.
steve anstett March 13, 2012 at 03:07 PM
Julie...thanks for the update. My note below: Delegate Kaiser I am a resident of Anne Arundel County and have been following progress on this bill. I believe the current method of Governor appointment for our county Board of Education minimizes my representation as a taxpayer in my county. I support the concept of the ‘Hybrid’ board and believe it to be a step forward. Please help by making sure this bill makes it out of the subcommittee and gets a chance before all Delegates! Sincerely Steve Anstett Severna Park
Steve Holcomb March 13, 2012 at 03:30 PM
Julie- My thanks as well. For what it is worth, I forwarded the link to this article to a number of political organizations in Anne Arundel County, both Democrat, Republican and even Green. Personally, I believe this is a bipartisan issue that everyone can support. If anyone has contacts with any community groups, please forward this information along and encourage them to email their delegates and senators,Speaker Busch, and Dels. Hixson and Kaiser ASAP!
Janet Norman March 14, 2012 at 01:24 AM
Please email michael.busch@house.state.md.us and anne.kaiser@house.state.md.us, to allow the Hybrid School Board proposal HB 367 to come to a vote in the House of Delegates. For too long has the School Board been unaccountable, please give AA County taxpayers the representation that is fairly ours.
Julie Dettor March 17, 2012 at 12:58 AM
Today, this very afternoon - Speaker Busch informed the House that NO LOCAL BILLS will move forward from Committees until he sees how people will vote on the Governor’s Budget Bill next week!! Thus HB367 & others, along with all 24 other county’s bills are being held hostage! That’s the update…we’re in a holding pattern…continued emails to Del. Kaiser and Speaker Busch…that’s all I can say at this point.
Steve Holcomb March 17, 2012 at 01:09 PM
In addition to contacting Speaker Busch and Delegate Kaiser, I urge everyone to keep the momentum going on this issue. Anytime you see an article in the local media having anything to do about the school board and one of its nonsensical policies, respond. Write a letter to the editor why we need an elected school board. If House Bill 367 fails this term, then we need to keep the public educated so there is a better chance next year.

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