A basic breakdown of HB 1299 (Board of Education elections):
Currently, all seven seats are at-large.
District-specific school board members would be elected beginning in 2020. The transition to a new board will begin in the 2018 general election, when four board seats are up for election. The top two vote-getters in the election would be designated as the board’s at-large members and serve for a term of four years. The other two members elected would serve just two years to make room for district-specific members in 2020.
Here are some quotes from our elected officials in that article:
Del. Vanessa Atterbeary, a Maple Lawn Democrat who sponsored the measure, called it “a huge step for our county moving forward.”
Del. Warren Miller, a west county Republican who has sponsored several school board reform bills, said the measure is a “needed change.” “In the current board, something’s not right,” he said. “We have failing schools, leaking roofs, audits. … If someone can be held accountable versus everyone pointing fingers at each other, it’s a needed change.”
Sen. Ed Kasemeyer, a Democrat who represents both Howard and Baltimore counties, said he was reluctant to limit voting to specific districts. “Having school board members elected by councilmanic districts, to me, just more intertwined the political aspect of the offices, and I felt that an active group of people in a small area could influence the election,” he said. Kasemeyer said tying members, but not voters, to districts still accomplishes the goal of having each area of the county represented by someone on the board. “There is going to be someone accountable,” he said.
Del. Shane Pendergrass, a Columbia Democrat, remembered running for council at the same time that Sandra French, a current school board member, was running for a seat on the board. Pendergrass won and French did not. “You’d think the council would be a harder race to run, but it wasn’t,” Pendergrass said. “Change for change’s sake is not necessarily for the best. I think if you want accountability, you have districts.”
Flanagan said he was concerned the delegation’s measure would lead to school board seats becoming more politicized. “We’re not making it easier for somebody to run,” he said.
Del. Trent Kittleman, a west county Republican, was also torn. One of her goals for the legislation, to make it easier to run, was not accomplished, in her view. But the other goal — “to have an identifiable board that people could go to” — was.
And this was my favorite quote of the article:
Del. Frank Turner, a Columbia Democrat, said the bill represented progress: “We can move forward and if we need to revisit it, we can.” “If everybody is a little unhappy, then it’s probably a good bill,” he said.
Be sure to use the hashtag #HB1299 on Twitter for this topic.
Have a great day.