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Baltimore lawmakers endorse bill to give mayor sole power over school board

Baltimore's House delegation supports the mayor's proposal to take control of city school board appointments.

Baltimore lawmakers in the House of Delegates endorsed a bill Friday that would give the mayor sole control over appointments to the city's school board — a measure Mayor Catherine Pugh has called her top priority for the legislative session.

Under the current system, the Baltimore mayor and the governor share a role in picking and removing the board's members. Karen Stokes, a lobbyist for Pugh, called that arrangement, which was created in 1997, "outdated."

Anthony McCarthy, a spokesman for the mayor, said getting the governor out of the process will help Pugh fulfill her vision for the city's schools, which "are central to her plan to grow Baltimore and to position Baltimore as a vibrant thriving city."

A spokesman for Republican Gov. Larry Hogan did not respond to a request for comment.

The bill would also create a community panel to propose names of board members to the mayor. That job is currently handled by the state school board.

The board, which currently consists of nine full commissioners and a student, oversees policies and the budget for city schools. A law passed last year will add two elected commissioners beginning in 2022.

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