According to a recent story in The Capital, a number of Republican delegates want to amend existing law so that at least part of the county Board of Education would be elected instead of appointed by the Governor. It was just five years ago that we voted a on the ballot for a new process of appointing our school board. So why are we opening this bag of worms again?
Because we in Severna Park are not adequately supported by the school board.
A quick history lesson on this subject: Anne Arundel County for many years held a nominating convention when there was to be a vacancy, in order to select the people whose names would be forwarded to the Governor for appointment. The problem was this process was not supported in the Maryland Code and the only thing that was law according the the Code was the Governor makes the appointment. So after many months of planning, campaigning and working to come up with two names to submit the sitting Governor could appoint whomever he wanted. Many times that did happen. And people would be pissed.
Senator Bryan Simonaire (R-Pasadena) led a petition drive to make the process an elected school board which failed. The legislature decided it would put a referendum on the ballot changing some things. It passed and this law created a commission that interviews the candidates and then puts forward two names to the Governor for the appointment. Choosing the person is not a problem for the Governor since he already has the cards stacked in his favor - he gets to put 5 of 11 members on the commission and two more are union representatives, including the Teacher's Union.
So here's why we need to revisit this issue: Fair represention for the Severna Park stakeholders by the Board Members. The Superintendent and the board members for the most part treat Severna Park with disdain. In their opinion we who live here are rich... a thorn in their collective sides, and we do not need them (and their money ...which is really OUR money) as much as other "underpriviledged" areas. One case in point is the revitalization of Severna Park Middle School which, after all was said and done (and about a $40,000,000 price tag) did not even bring the physical classroom sizes up to the board's own adopted Education Specifications.
We are still waiting for the new high school to be built while the 50 year old school continues to fall down around the students. The plans are still on the drawing board and the Principal, Mr. Bathras, is having a meeting next Tuesday Jan. 17 at 6 p.m. to inform parents as to the status.
Board members are apppointed for a five year term and can be re-appointed once. So it's possible for a member to spend 10 years making decisions that affect every child in our schools, their education, policies, the money and how it's spent. The Board of Education is half of the county budget. They get additional funds from the Feds but all of it is from the taxpayers.
Severna Park stakeholders included.