At a business meeting held Monday, Harford School Board President Rick Grambo moved to scrap the text of a 20-page Legislative Platform recommended in November by Superintendent Robert Tomback and replace it with the following:
“Whereas the family unit is where the best decisions are made for children, we support legislation that brings the governance of education as close as possible to the family rather than sending the responsibility for it to State and Federal governments.
-We oppose any legislation that allows international agencies, or governments control of the education process.
-We support legislation that promotes School choice for parents
-We oppose legislation that interferes in any way with a parent’s right to raise their children as they see fit.
-We oppose legislation that allows local Harford County Taxpayer funds to be used in counties other than our own.
-We oppose legislation that trades local control of the education process for funding
-We understand the county’s future responsibilities to the pensioned employees of our schools, and will engage in conversation with county officials on how to fund said responsibilities without relying upon bonds.
-We oppose state legislation that passes the cost of irresponsible promises onto counties.
-We support legislation that promotes Education Freedom. That is, legislation that improves access to a quality education for all students and families.”
Grambo’s motion failed to get a second from his fellow board members.
The Harford County Board of Education votes each year on a legislative platform reflecting its positions on issues such as school funding, board authority and student safety. Under pressure to approve a set of positions in time for the upcoming Maryland General Assembly session, board members moved to vote on the 2013 platform at the December 17th meeting where Grambo made his motion.
The action on the platform came after the board delayed an earlier vote scheduled for November 19th, when Tomback first presented a proposed 2013 platform to the board.
While many of the positions in the 2013 proposal were carried over from previous years, Kathy Carmello, HCPS facilitator of governmental relations, acknowledged on November 19th that next year’s platform was put together in the board’s name without input from current board members, or the public. Board members delayed a vote at the time to allow for further review.
After Grambo’s motion failed at the meeting Monday, Board Vice-President Nancy Reynolds suggested a compromise to address a sticking point for Grambo in Tomback’s proposed platform: opposition to school choice. Reynolds’ amendment removed any reference to the topic, such as how charter schools are to be funded and regulated. Reynolds’ amendment passed unanimously.
Board members later passed the proposed 2013 Legislative Platform as amended – minus the school choice references and with the addition of an executive summary – with Grambo casting the only no vote.
Armed with the school board’s freshly approved platform, Ms. Carmello will head to Annapolis in January to weigh in on the board’s behalf on bills affecting education. When bills arise that involve school choice, she will return to the Harford County School Board to ask for their position, be it thumbs up, or thumbs down.