A panel commissioned by County Executive Ken Ulman to review the structure and composition of the Howard County Board of Education held its first meeting last week, and has set a schedule of meetings through the end of next month.

Following their initial meeting Aug. 10, during which panel members discussed the issue but made no suggestions, the panel is next scheduled to meet Monday, Aug. 22 at 7 p.m. in the George Howard Building. It will be the first meeting at which public comment will be allowed.


A public hearing is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 12, at an as-yet-undetermined time and place.

The panel, comprised of current and former educators and members of the county's statehouse delegation, is headed by Nancy Grasmick, former state schools superintendent.

Ulman named the panel last month after a public meeting during which speakers criticized the lack of racial, ethnic and geographic diversity on the county's elected, seven-seat board of education.

In December 2010, the school system announced that for the first time, white students were in the minority in county schools, making up 48.6 percent of the nearly 51,000-student body.

Also in December, Patricia Gordon, the only black member of the board, retired from the board.

Additionally, while current members of the board hail from Fulton, Scaggsville, Clarksville and Ellicott City, none are from Columbia or Elkridge.

Currently, members of the board of education are elected to four-year terms in county-wide elections. Seats are voted on during gubernatorial elections and three during presidential elections.

Additional meetings of the study commission panel, besides the Sept. 12 public hearing, will be held Aug. 29, Sept. 8, Sept. 19 and Sept. 26.