Bill for elected school board in Anne Arundel fails

Efforts to create an elected school board for Anne Arundel County are likely dead for 2014.

Anne Arundel's state senators have voted 3-2 to kill Senate Bill 0148, which would have created a school board with five elected members and four appointed members. The vote spurred the county's delegates to acknowledge it's fruitless to push their own version of the bill.


For years, there's been an effort to change Anne Arundel's school board. Anne Arundel is one of four jurisdictions in Maryland that does not have at least a partially elected school board.

Del. Steve Schuh, a Gibson Island Republican, was promoting the merits of the bill before his fellow delegates on Friday when state Sen. Ed Reilly, a Crofton Republican, interjected that the senators had voted against the idea.


Schuh said his bill was a "perfectly reasonable hybrid" that holds school board members accountable to voters, who can vote them out. Having some members appointed would allow the governor to ensure that there's diversity on the board, including racial diversity or diversity of experience.

On Friday evening, Schuh said the Anne Arundel House delegation still intends to vote a the bill it cross filed with the Senate bill. House Bill 0444 proposed the same provisions as the Senate version.

"It is theoretically possible to pass a House only bill, but the prospects are dramatically reduced by the Senate delegation's failure to support the Senate version of the bill," Schuh said. Still, he added, the delegation will continue in its effort.

"It's outrageous," Schuh said, "that the governor of Maryland, rather than the citizens of this county, control the school board."

A similar bill failed last year, though it did have the backing of Anne Arundel's delegates.

Anne Arundel's current school board has nine members. Five are appointed from state legislative districts, three are appointed from the county at large and one is the student member.

The governor makes school board appointments from a list of nominees submitted by the county's School Board Nominating Commission. School board members are subject to a retention election after they are appointed.

Lobbyists representing County Executive Laura Neuman planned to testify in support of the bill, but chose not to after it was clear the bill was dead. The county executive had one difference of opinion, however, preferring to have school board members elected from the same districts as the county council, according to written testimony prepared by Don Murphy, one of Neuman's lobbyists.


Last year, Anne Arundel lawmakers voted in favor of a bill that would have changed the school board from all-appointed to five elected and four appointed.

In previous terms, county lawmakers have proposed such measures as increasing the board's membership to 11 — allowing voters to elect members to the two additional seats — placing a straw poll regarding board selection on a November election ballot and requiring elected board members face an election if they seek second terms.

Reporter Joe Burris contributed to this story.