Schaefer ignores nomination in filling school board post


Thomas E. Florestano has been appointed to the Anne Arundel County school board, marking the seventh time in five years that Gov. William Donald Schaefer has bypassed the top choice of the county's School Board Nominating Convention.

Dr. Florestano, who retired recently as the president of Anne Arundel Community College, already has served six months on the board. He was appointed in January to complete the unexpired term of Jo Ann Tollenger, who quit abruptly.

He said then he would not seek a full term and did not participate in the convention's forum for school board candidates last spring.

But County Executive Robert R. Neall recommended Dr. Florestano for the post last month, saying he was losing faith in the convention process because participation was dwindling. Only 162 ballots were cast this year.

Dr. Florestano could not be reached for comment yesterday nor could Nancy Schrum, the former Bodkin Elementary School PTA president who got the most votes at the convention.

The governor's practice of ignoring the convention's choice has raised questions about the validity of inviting delegates from hundreds of community groups to question the candidates and vote on them. Some people have dropped out of the nominating convention partly because its advice has been ignored so often.

Neither the county executive nor the governor is bound by the convention's choices.

"I quit because I was disgusted," said Joan Urbas, a former member of the committee that runs the convention and who now works with the county's League of Women Voters, which backs an elected board.

Sometimes, as with Ms. Tollenger in 1989 and Dr. Florestano now, the person selected to fill the vacancy didn't even go through the convention.

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