www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/readersrespond/bs-ed-crowding-letter-20120517,0,5211898.story

baltimoresun.com

School board's failure to address overcrowding suggests change is needed

2:15 PM EDT, May 17, 2012

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As The Sun correctly points out ("Crowded classrooms," May 15), classroom overcrowding has developed because of decisions authorized by Baltimore County's school board, and we appreciate The Sun's investigative reporting and analysis of this problem. Unfortunately, it is unlikely the board would have ever raised this issue or brought it the public's attention. In fact, The Sun reported that "Donald Peccia, the head of human resources for county schools, said he was not aware of the number of classes with 30 or more students."

We believe that this issue again points to the deeper structural problem of how the county school board is selected and organized. That's why we — along with numerous community groups, including the League of Women Voters — support a hybrid school board, partly elected and partly appointed. This process would lead to a more diverse and responsive board, with greater transparency and accountability. Choosing to eliminate "teaching positions while at the same time hiring pricey administrative staff," as The Sun put it, has led to the predictable outcome of serious overcrowding.

Thankfully, the new superintendent, Dallas Dance, will make resolving this crisis a priority when he takes over, and we pledge to work with him to help reduce class size. Interestingly, Mr. Dance himself has said that he can work equally well with an appointed, elected, or hybrid school board. We appreciate his candor and flexibility on this important issue.

Dels. Dan Morhaim, Jon Cardin, Dana Stein and Steve Lafferty and Sens. Bobby Zirkin and Jim Brochin, Annapolis

The writers, all Democrats, represent Baltimore County in the Maryland House of Delegates and Senate.