County Executive Kevin Kamenetz could be talking compromise on a controversial effort to change how members of the county school board are selected.
Kamenetz has been meeting with lawmakers from around the county in the last week in advance of the 2013 General Assembly Session that begins Jan. 9. A number of legislators, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the meetings were private, said the county executive discussed a possible option in which appointed board members would stand for election after being appointed by the governor.
The plan could include the creation of some form of nominating process that includes a commission similar to one that vets judicial appointments. Members of the commission would be selected either by the governor or county executive. Once appointed, members would have to stand for retention election in the next election.
The compromise was first proposed nearly a year ago by Sen. Bobby Zirkin, a proponent of a change to a partially- or fully-elected school board.
Don Mohler, a Kamenetz spokesman, said the meetings with legislators last month were confidential and declined to discuss the details of the compromise.
"We continue to have an open dialogue with Sen. Zirkin," said Mohler.
The discussion may be an attempt to head off another battle royal clash between the executive, who opposes changing the current appointment-only process, and a majority of county legislators who backed proposals to create a so-called hybrid board that is partially-elected and partially appointed.
County legislators came within minutes in April of passing legislation creating a hybrid board. Kamenetz angered legislators by working to hold the bill up in committee. In return, some of them delayed legislation requested by the county executive.
But with framework hammered out, the bill was sure to return again this year.
In August, Kamenetz sent letters to county lawmakers asking them not attempt to change how members of the school board are selected.
Zirkin, an Owings Mills Democrat, responded at the time by saying there was room for compromise but that "the county executive's letter will be disregarded."
Last week, he struck a more conciliatory tone but said some points are not negotiable.
"We're having conversations about [a compromise]," Zirkin said. "I'm always looking at ways to compromise but no compromise is acceptable if that doesn't give county residents some right to vote for school board members."