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Zirkin: Kamenetz School Board Letter 'Will be Disregarded'

State senator vows to introduce school board bill on the first day of the 2013 General Assembly Session.

The state senator who has led the charge on changing how members of the county board of education are selected said he will introduce the bill again on the first day of the 2013 session.

State Sen. Bobby Zirkin Thursday said a letter sent to state legislators nearly two months ago by County Executive Kevin Kamenetz will not deter efforts to add elected members to the Baltimore County Board of Education.

Zirkin has been a leading proponent of a hybrid elected-appointed school board overt the last six years.

Kamenetz, in a letter dated Aug. 4, asked senators and delegates who represent the county to not attempt to change how members of the school board are selected.

"I respectfully disagree," Zirkin said. "The legislature will take up what we choose to take up and this will be an issue we will debate next year."

"The county executive's letter will be disregarded," said Zirkin, an Owings Mills Democrat.

The letter was published online by Advocates for Baltimore County Schools—a group that supports the move to a board with elected members.

Kamenetz, in the letter, praised the efforts of Superintendent S. Dallas Dance and said: "Any discussion of school governance at this time would be unsettling and potentially destabilizing just when the school system appears to be gathering momentum."

It is not clear how many Baltimore County senators and delegates received the letter from Kamenetz. Zirkin and Sen. Jim Brochin, a Towson Democrat, both said they had not seen the letter until it appeared on the Internet Wednesday night. Both advocated for a change to a partially elected board.

Del. Steve Lafferty, a Towson Democrat, and co-sponsor of a similar bill in the House said he had received a copy of the letter.

Zirkin said the change is driven by public policy and not inter-personal relationships.

"The issue of having democracy in the [selection] of our school board members does not have anything to do with the superintendent or who the current school board members are," said Zirkin.

Kamenetz actively opposed the bill last year and personally appealed to House Ways and Means Chairwoman Sheila Hixson to hold the bill in committee. The move irritated Zirkin and other members of the county delegation who said later that it hurt their working relationship.

"His opinions are welcome but these are local state bills," said Zirkin. "Offering an opinion and coming down here and getting a standing committee chairman to go against the wishes of the county delegation is a different issue."

"This issue is a state law and it will be decided by state elected officials," said Zirkin, adding that he intends to pre-file the bill that passed out of the Senate and ultimately the House Ways and Means Committee in the waning hours of the 2012 session.

"This issue is not going to go away," said Zirkin. "It's going to be here every year until the citizens of Baltimore County have a democratic process in place. There's always room for compromise. What that bill looks like can be determined by people of good will who bargain in good faith to benefit the residents of Baltimore County."

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Charles Kane October 12, 2012 at 08:35 PM
Yes he does, he kowtow's to Howard Brown
perryhallrepub October 13, 2012 at 12:31 AM
Damn I like Zirkin. The only truly independent politician I've ever seen.
perryhallrepub October 13, 2012 at 12:33 AM
Charle Kane. You are an ignorant bomb thrower with nothing kind to say about anyone. I'm a die-hard R and I disagree with Zirkin a lot, but he is definitely independent. Bucks his own party as hard as he bucks mine. That's what we need in government. Wish more of my folks did it too.
perryhallrepub October 13, 2012 at 12:34 AM
Kamenitz doesn't get to control the members if they are elected. That's his problem. They might actually speak out on things for the public instead of staying quiet. Absurd that our county executive distrusts the voters this much. What an insult.
Charles Kane January 23, 2013 at 02:53 PM
Hey, I respect someone for bucking their party, but don't say he doesn't kowtow to anyone. He knows who got him where he is today (Howard Brown) and he sticks his nose into County matters in order to support his benefactors. Great that he thumbs his nose at Kamenetz et al, but let's be honest about the fact that he has gone out of his way to stop progress at the behest of his sugar daddy.

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