The Harford County Board of Education has spent the last two years shooting down school board elections, but now the Board is considering changes to its internal procedures so that board leadership will be determined by – you guessed it – elections.
The proposed change in board policy is on the agenda for tonight’s meeting. If it’s approved, the Board will abandon the current practice of rotating the board presidency and vice-presidency based on seniority, and elect their leaders instead.
Funny, the Board has been telling the public that elections are the wrong way to select school leaders. In fact, Board member Mark Wolkow has waged a vigorous campaign against elections, arguing that appointed board members provide the best possible leadership. So anyone the Governor appoints is good enough for the public, but not good enough for the Board? Sounds like a classic case of do as I say, not as I do.
The proposed policy would also allow new board members to run for president after one year of service and for vice-president after six months. And past board presidents would no longer have to wait for all the other members to have a turn before running for a second term.
It will be interesting to see how board members vote on the proposal. It’s possible that some members may oppose the shift away from leadership based on seniority, especially if they happen to be next in line. But the idea must have some support on the Board, or it wouldn’t be on the agenda in the first place. Maybe a new board member is looking for a fast track to leadership, or a past president wants another shot at running the show.
We’ll know soon enough. If the policy change is approved tonight, the Board will hold their elections in April. Right around the same time the Maryland General Assembly will let the voters of Harford County know if we can hold school board elections of our own.
Dave Yensan says
This stuff gets cuter all the time. Earkier generations had the Keystone Cops for comic relief, we have the Harford County School Board.
This is weird to come up. I wonder if they decided to put on the agenda and then decided to vote it down or if deals were already made behind closed doors. Do you think this is an honest move? Or are they doing this to try to stop the elected school board supporters?
I hate to be so cynical, but I just don’t trust the Board as we can see in other articles and evidence here.
I wish we could just go for a referendum as to an elected school board and then our legislatures would support the people’s will (which I think would be an elected school board). Lastly, I feel that the State House should allow Harford Countians to make a decision that is this important and affects us. After all, other counties have elected school boards.
Dave Yensan says
Gee Renandstimpy, isn’t paying for their stuff good enough? Now you want to hold them accountable as well! How anti-revolutionary of you,
When Mr. Fidler left with his parting remarks, he made that suggestion. A good one on its face value, I believe. Although, I agree with the remarks above, you get a bit cynical on any moves the Board makes now, given that they think appointed is better than elected board members.
I know, guess frustration has just gotten the best of me. Will have to keep an open mind on this one and see how it turns out. I guess baby steps are going to have to be taken.
In reading the language for this proposal, I was confused by the reason for the change. It states, “The revised policy is proposed in order to promote a more efficient operation of Board activities through an elective system which allows for service beyond a one-year period of time.”
Why is it necessary to change from a system of senority to an elective system in order to allow “service beyond a one-year period of time”? Couldn’t the current senority system be changed to allow service beyond one year. Please clarify if you know the answer.
While I am delighted that the Board is considering an elective system for themselves to decide their leadership, I also question the true reason for it. And of course, I, too,wonder why the BOE feels that this elective system is good enough for them to select their leadership, but the citizens of the county are denied, by the BOE, the right to elect the board’s membership.
I know that last year (or perhaps before that) there were petitions to sign in support of an elected school board. Is it time to start petitions again? Do they do any good? It is holiday concert time in the high schools and lots of people attend those. What should the timing be?
Good idea Judy. I think petitions work if they provide accurate information on an issue and if signatures are collected in good faith from and by affected citizens.
On that note, there is a great Letter to the Editor in today’s Aegis from Councilman Slutzky about Mark Wolkow’s petition against school board elections (the petition, addressed to Edgewood and Joppa pastors, is printed in full right here on The Dagger) in which Wolkow solicits signatures using misleading and sometimes downright inaccurate statements.
This story had been updated, but I posted the update as a comment on the story about Wolkow’s petition by mistake. Here’s the link:
Dave Yensan says
ATTENTION ALL! Mr Wolkow will be speaking at the New Harford Democrat Club this Wednesday, the 3rd at 7:00, Holiday Inn, Aberdeen. He’s listed to talk about the pros and cons of an elected board. I’m out of town but a few of yo might want to goa and call bullshit on his speach.
Is he going to have his sidekick there, Mary Dulany James with him? If I was free on Wednesday, I would definitely go because I am just frustrated with all of this Elected School Board issues. It appears to me, that if all of our representatives supported the Elected School Board, there would be a great chance we would get it due to Legislative Courtesy. Wolkow and Mary Dulany James’ campaign seem to be a roadblock for this to occor.
The big problem being Mary Dulany James as she is our only representive that is not supporting it and to get Legislative Courtesy, we need all of our representatives to support it. It also seems she is friends or has been working with Bushe to get this Bill stopped. I bet she has also talked to Sir Tax A Lot (O”malley) as he will lose a way to reward supporters and put Democrats on the BOE.
I wish there was a way we could amend our charter so the people of Harford County could make this decision. I can always dream.
Dave, do you know if the Wednesday event is open to the public? I’d love to go and hear what he has to say.
Dave Yensan says
My impression is that it pretty much has to be open to the public. Realize, however, that it is Art Helton’s very own baby and he can be a real SOB. I would expect that he will try to stifle any and all comments, but if enough people show up he will be stuck.
Kathleen P King says
Of course elections within the PALACE are better then the commoners voting. There must be a person coming up for the Presidency that isn’t toting the Haas- Line. Maybe Mr Wolkow wants his title back….well the title of BOE President not the one we all call him.
Essentially the story seems that the BOARD can and should have the right to vote ….JUST NOT THE TAXPAYERS.