The president of the Baltimore County school board said Monday that if board members are elected, rather than appointed, school system diversity might suffer, and the process could get lost amid other elected offices on the ballot.
Board president Lawrence Schmitt spoke Monday at a public meeting of the state task force reviewing the school board selection process.
In the last of its three public meetings, the 12-member Task Force on the Membership and Operation of the Baltimore County Board of Education met at the Towson Library.
Schmitt, who took over the board presidency two weeks ago, has been a board member for two years.
He said the board, in the past, "has always supported to keep an appointed school board."
"It is an extremely diverse school system," Schmitt said, worrying aloud that an elected school board might fail to reflect the ethnic diversity of the county population.
Schmitt also said that with so much already on Maryland ballots — clerk of the court, Orphan's Court judges and so on — a school board election would end up "pretty far down the ballot."
Now, board members are appointed by the governor. The task force is considering whether members should instead be elected by voters, whether the board should be a mix of elected and appointed members, or whether it should be selected by some other process.
Formed by Baltimore County's General Assembly delegation, the task force is a mix of current and former elected officials at the county and state level.
The task force is chaired by state Sen. Kathy Klausmeier, District 8, and Del. Stephen Lafferty, District 42.
Other members are state Sens. J. B. Jennings, District 7; Delores Kelley, District 10; and Bobby Zirkin, District 11; and state Dels. Emmet Burns Jr., District 10, Wade Kach, District 5B, and Dana Stein, District 11.
The remaining members are former county executive Jim Smith; Dunbar Brooks, former president of the state Board of Education; former state Del. James Campbell; and Baltimore County Council chairman John Olszewski Sr., District 7.
The task force is considering six options for how Baltimore County Board of Education members could be selected:
• Appointment by the governor.
• Election by voters.
• Appointment by the county executive.
• Some members elected and others appointed (hybrid system).
• Election by county nominating commission.
• Appointment, with some additional approval.
The task force's first meeting was July 6 at the Reisterstown Library, followed by a second meeting July 7 inEssex.