Howard County is one step closer to having voters choose five of the seven school board members by County Council districts.

The county’s 12-member delegation unanimously voted at a work session Wednesday to advance a proposal to change the way members of the county’s Board of Education are elected, starting in 2020.

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The bill would mean five of the seven school board members would be elected by County Council districts — and only by voters from those districts.

Howard County lawmakers' agenda for 2019 session includes plastic bags, schools issues and Ellicott City

When the Maryland General Assembly convenes for its 2019 session next week, Howard County’s delegation will tackle an agenda that’s been forming for the past several months — and will have a few new faces to help carry it out.

The remaining two board members would serve at-large, representing the entire county, and would be elected by all county voters. School board candidates would decide whether to run for a district seat or an at-large seat.

Del. Vanessa Atterbeary, a Democrat who represents Howard County, sponsored the bill. She sponsored a similar bill in 2016, though it failed to clear the legislature.

Atterbeary has said the reasoning behind modifying the school board election is “about geographical diversity, to make sure there is fair representation on the school board and to make it easier and less burdensome for someone to run for school board.”

The delegate could not be immediately reached for comment Wednesday.

The bill will now advance to various committees and subcommittees, then to the House and Senate floor.

The delegation also decided to form a work group regarding a proposal to increase impact fees to developers.

Howard delegate looks to change school board election, again

Howard County residents spoke for and against a proposed bill that would have five school board members be elected by district and two at large.

Atterbeary is proposing to allow for the Howard County Council to increase the amount of money being charged to developers when they build new residential developments. The money goes directly into the school’s system construction fund.

The work group will consist of Atterbeary; Del. Jen Terrasa, a Democrat who represents District 13; Democrat Eric Ebersole of District 12; and Del. Warren Miller, a Republican who represents portions of Howard County in District 9A.

The bill would allow for the fee to go as high as $4 per square foot, though Atterbeary has voiced support for going higher. The existing impact fee is $1 per square foot.

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