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Effort to restrict governor's options on school board members falters


Legislative attempts to force the governor to appoint Baltimore County school board members approved by the county's nominating convention appear dead this year, although the membership of the board may still be expanded.

The county's Senate delegation voted 4-2 on Thursday to kill a bill that would make the current selection process law and require the governor to fill school board vacancies from a list of candidates submitted by the county's nominating convention.

Only the two Senate sponsors, Democrat Paula C. Hollinger of Pikesville and Republican Vernon F. Boozer of Towson, voted for the measure. Delegation Chairman Thomas L. Bromwell, a Fullerton Democrat, abstained, although he said he opposed the measure.

While the House delegation approved a similar measure Friday sponsored by Towson Republican John J. Bishop, Thursday's Senate vote makes it unlikely that the upper chamber will go along.

No local bill can be enacted unless both House and Senate delegations approve.

"It's dead. They [other senators] don't like the concept," Senator Boozer said after hearing of the House vote.

Although the county's delegates approved the Bishop bill 15-5, delegation Chairman E. Farrell Maddox agreed that the measure is unlikely to be enacted.

Only Mr. Bishop remained optimistic. "The Senate now has a second chance to do the right thing," he said.

The Bishop bill would eliminate the governor's power to ignore the choices of the School Board Nominating Convention, a collection of community groups that selects candidates when a vacancy occurs.

Gov. William Donald Schaefer has often ignored the convention's selections and picked his own choices as board members.

Critics of the board -- and proponents of the legislative changes -- said that the result was a school board that was out of touch and allowed resentment over sudden changes in the school system last spring to boil over into a controversy that lasted all summer.

The senators did approve another bill that would expand the size the board and change the geographic basis for selection of members.

The 10-member panel has eight members selected by legislative district, one at-large member and one student member. But the county lost one legislative district when the boundaries were redrawn after the 1990 census, and several of the new districts cross city-county lines.

Sponsored by Essex Democrat Michael J. Collins, the Senate bill would expand the board to 12 members, with seven members chosen from County Council districts, four at-large members and a student.

L Members would have to be confirmed by the county's senators.

Mr. Maddox said the House will probably come up with a different version. He said delegates will never agree to Senate confirmation.

He said the House is likely to propose a 13-member board, with seven members appointed by council district, one student member, and five members selected from the school system's administrative districts.


To receive, by fax, a copy of this week's Maryland General Assembly legislative hearing schedule, dial Sunfax at (410) 332-6123. After you hear the greeting, punch in the four-digit code 5959.

If you would like to receive the schedule every week, call (410) 332-6893. Leave your name, phone number and fax number.

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