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Final Push For School Board Bill

As clock ticks down to midnight, legislators will be pushing for passage of partially-elected board that County Executive Kevin Kamenetz opposes.

Sen. Kathy Klausmeier is calling on the chairwoman of the House Ways and Means Committee to let a controversial Baltimore County School Board bill out of committee today before the midnight deadline.

The bill, which creates a partially-elected school board, needs the concurrence of the committee and the full House for final passage.

County Executive Kevin Kamenetz has expressed concerns about the bill and legislators say Del. Sheila Hixson, chairwoman of the committee and a Montgomery County Democrat, is using those concerns to hold the bill up.

"I don't know if the county executive is talking to Sheila and I don't know how much weight that carries," said Klausmeier. "Seems to me she should abide by Baltimore County."

Klausmeier said she plans to speak to Hixson about the bill Monday.

Klausmeier is in an interesting position because she is now in a position of having to defend a bill she personally opposes.

"I don't like the bill but if that's what the delegation wants then that's the majority and sometimes you have to do what you don't like doing," said the Perry Hall Democrat.

To recap, Hixson told Baltimore County legislators she was not going to vote on a compromise bill agreed to last week by the House and Senate delegations .

Legislators said Hixson cited a long-standing policy in committee of holding local bills when the respected county executive opposes them.

Kamenetz sent a letter to Hixson opposing both a partially- and fully-elected school board on the basis citing taxing and racial diversity issues.

The letter (attached to this story) raises some questions because it is dated February 16—before Hixson's committee passed out a version of the bill calling for a fully-elected board. But the letter references the hiring of a new schools superintendent. That hiring though was publicly announced more than a month later.

Late Saturday, legislators in the House and Senate began taking other bills as hostages— that Kamenetz would like to see passed. Sen. Bobby Zirkin and Del. Wade Kach both clearly tied their actions to the delay in the school board bill.

Kach threatened that there were other actions that could be taken today "and we'll do them all," the Cockeysville Republican said.

Zirkin accused Kamenetz of "going around the legislative process" and said the county executive should bring his concerns to the delegation Monday.

Klausmeier said she believes there is little chance Kamenetz will do that in the waning hours of the session.

"He just doesn't like the bill," Klausmeier said of Kamenetz. "I think he's said as much as hes going to say. It's all been said. He's just trying his last ditch efforts."

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johnny towson April 09, 2012 at 06:11 PM
The wolf cloaked as a sheep has revealed himself. Kamenetz said, "I also believe that an elected board (that has no separate taxing authority) will advocate fiscally irresponsible positions, creating an adversarial relationship with County government." In other words, no way in he** I am going to let the tax payers tell me how to spend the $1Billion dollar budget. Again, the County Executive and his men already know that they are smarter than us and better than us.
Julie Henn April 09, 2012 at 06:23 PM
@ johnny towson - Where's the 'like' button when you need it? Far be it from us minions to know how to spend our own dollars. A/C for our kids - that's a ludicrous idea. Overcrowding - yup - no ideas there either. Kamenetz isn't about education - he's about advancing his own career. An elected board might actually put education first over politics - and he's not about to let that happen. Hope both sides remember this come election time.
John Doby April 09, 2012 at 07:14 PM
While I can't stand KK, I don't agree with this bill. Whether the board is fully appointed, fully elected or a mix, there are going to be political side effects to the school board. If a politian picks the board, then there’s political influence. However, if the school board is elected, the people running for the board positions are at that point also essentially politicians. The people running will need to have campaigns and will need campaign funds. Campaign funding is one of the most corrupt parts of politics, and this bill brings all of that corruption into the school board. Also, politicians do not need any qualifications to win an election and certainly do not need any qualifications to run for a position. I would think a system like how the SCOTUS is picked and affirmed would be the best for this board. The members would be nominated by the executive and then confirmed by the Senate or House, etc.
Baltimore1979 April 09, 2012 at 10:17 PM
That letter is SUSPICIOUS to say the least. It's dated mid-February, but talks about the selection of a male superintendent. A lot of great, community-spirited people have stepped up to be considered for the Harford and Howard County BOEs. Don't assume it's politicians trying to get elected for the wrong reasons. An all-appointed by the Governor/County Exec board - can't get more political than that!

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