Time to devise better plan for county school board

Sometimes well-intentioned legislation has unintended consequences that are not so desirable. The recent proposal of a hybrid elected school board in Baltimore County is one such proposal.

Parents are correct in expressing the need for more accountability from the Baltimore County Board of Education. The solution proposed, however, creates the potential for more problems. County Executive Kevin Kamenetz was right in courageously and successfully opposing the legislation ("Balto. Co. school board bill fails," April 10).

Those six members elected by district under the proposal would likely introduce many unnecessary frills to the school budget. Elected members could satisfy parents demands without the responsibility of paying for them. That would set up an unproductive conflict with the funding authorities (the county executive and council). These elected board members could harangue the council and executive for being "against their children's education." Some elected board members could also introduce proposals to interfere with separation of church and state in our schools. This has happened in many areas around the country.

There are alternative ways to implement more accountability to the school board. One would be for the county executive and council to appoint a "parallel school board," a body that would report regularly and publicly on the actions of the formal Board of Education. This would serve to pressure the board to be more responsive.

Another proposal would be to elect two members countywide. These at-large members could serve as a conduit of community and public official input to the school board without having enough numbers to force an issue. Yet they would serve as a conduit of useful public comment to help generate a conversation on an issue requiring a public response from the full board.

The problem of an unresponsive school board is an issue that needs addressing. The proposal now defeated in the Maryland legislature was not the solution.

Mel Mintz, Pikesville

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