Howard panel supports revamping school board

A commission created to study the Howard County school board's diversity voted Monday to recommend scrapping the current format of seven at-large elected members in favor of five members elected by County Council district plus two appointed members.

The county's School Board Study Commission was crafted by County Executive Ken Ulman to address some residents' concerns about racial and geographic diversity. Ulman has given the commission until next Monday to present a recommendation.

Former state schools Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick, who heads the commission, said the panel would present the recommendation that won majority support Monday night. The commission offered lukewarm support for maintaining the at-large elected board. It also struck down a suggestion pertaining to the two seats not tied to a district that would have made one an appointed position and one an at-large elected seat.

"It's been a very transparent process, and obviously it's going to require legislative change," Grasmick said of the panel's work. "There will be more vetting of it, but from our part, we got more data and we got public input. Everyone has been conscientious."

It was unclear who would appoint the two members under the commission's proposal.

Howard County Education Association President Paul Lemle voted in favor of at-large elections over elections by district and for elected members over appointed.

He, too, noted that any change would require legislative approval and added, "We will work to get the best result, not just what this commission recommends."

"I don't think this is over," Lemle added. "The majority of the commission supports it, but it's a small majority. We never laid some of the stuff side by side."

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