The state senator who has led the charge on changing how members of the county board of education are selected said he will introduce the bill again on the first day of the 2013 session.
State Sen. Bobby Zirkin Thursday said a letter sent to state legislators nearly two months ago by County Executive Kevin Kamenetz will not deter efforts to add elected members to the Baltimore County Board of Education.
Zirkin has been a leading proponent of a hybrid elected-appointed school board overt the last six years.
Kamenetz, in a letter dated Aug. 4, asked senators and delegates who represent the county to not attempt to change how members of the school board are selected.
"I respectfully disagree," Zirkin said. "The legislature will take up what we choose to take up and this will be an issue we will debate next year."
"The county executive's letter will be disregarded," said Zirkin, an Owings Mills Democrat.
The letter was published online by Advocates for Baltimore County Schools—a group that supports the move to a board with elected members.
Kamenetz, in the letter, praised the efforts of Superintendent S. Dallas Dance and said: "Any discussion of school governance at this time would be unsettling and potentially destabilizing just when the school system appears to be gathering momentum."
It is not clear how many Baltimore County senators and delegates received the letter from Kamenetz. Zirkin and Sen. Jim Brochin, a Towson Democrat, both said they had not seen the letter until it appeared on the Internet Wednesday night. Both advocated for a change to a partially elected board.
Zirkin said the change is driven by public policy and not inter-personal relationships.
"The issue of having democracy in the [selection] of our school board members does not have anything to do with the superintendent or who the current school board members are," said Zirkin.
Kamenetz actively opposed the bill last year and personally appealed to House Ways and Means Chairwoman Sheila Hixson to hold the bill in committee. The move irritated Zirkin and other members of the county delegation who said later that it hurt their working relationship.
"His opinions are welcome but these are local state bills," said Zirkin. "Offering an opinion and coming down here and getting a standing committee chairman to go against the wishes of the county delegation is a different issue."
"This issue is a state law and it will be decided by state elected officials," said Zirkin, adding that he intends to pre-file the bill that passed out of the Senate and ultimately the House Ways and Means Committee in the waning hours of the 2012 session.
"This issue is not going to go away," said Zirkin. "It's going to be here every year until the citizens of Baltimore County have a democratic process in place. There's always room for compromise. What that bill looks like can be determined by people of good will who bargain in good faith to benefit the residents of Baltimore County."