Unity was the theme of the testimony coming from the Harford County Delegation at a hearing Tuesday before the House Ways and Means Committee for the elected school board bill, HB 639.
Delegate J.B. Jennings appeared at the hearing side by side with Delegate Susan McComas, whom he recently replaced as delegation chair in a turbulent changing of the guard. Delegate Wayne Norman, the newly installed vice-chair of the delegation and Delegate Donna Stifler were also present in what they told the Committee was a “show of support.”
Delegate Jennings publicly thanked McComas and commended her for her work on the bill before McComas provided the following remarks to the committee:
TESTIMONY on HB 639 of DELEGATE SUSAN K. McCOMAS
House Ways and Means Committee
February 17, 2009
I am appearing today on behalf of the Harford County Delegation. The delegation has worked long and hard to achieve unanimity on how to select the Harford County Board of Education and I am pleased to announce EACH of the delegation’s eight members—including Delegate Mary-Dulany James—support the compromise approach of HB 639. An identical bill, SB 629, has been introduced by the Harford County Senators.
Currently, the Harford County Board of Education is composed of seven members appointed by the Governor. Under the compromise reached in HB 639, the board would increase to nine members. Of these, six would be elected and three would continue to be appointed by the Governor. In addition, the county superintendent of schools would serve as an ex officio nonvoting member and there would continue to be one nonvoting student member elected each year by the county’s high school students.
Each elected member would be selected by the voters of the councilmanic district he or she represents. These districts have been established for the election of the Harford County Council and it makes sense to have the school board members elected from the same districts. Attached to your exhibits is a map of these councilmanic districts.
As you can see from the exhibits, an overwhelming number of Harford County residents have indicated they want more public involvement in picking the members of their school board. In addition, you have exhibits showing the widespread support of various public entities in Harford County, such as the PTAs, the Harford County Council and the Edgewood Community Council. There is vast support in Harford County for this bill and—now that we have a unanimous delegation in support of this legislation—it is time to pass this bill.