UPDATED (3:58 p.m.) — Sen. Kathy Klausmeier and Del. John Olszewski Jr. introduced bills today that would create a task force to examine how to fill future vacancies on the Baltimore County school board.
The task force would consider alternative methods of selecting school board members. They could be elected, appointed or a hybrid of the two. The county may also return to using nominating conventions.
The governor now appoints the members of the school board. Some legislators say a change is needed because the school board has become less responsive and less accountable to the public.
Klausmeier, a Perry Hall Democrat, was not immediately available for comment.
Olszewski said the idea is to get interested groups together to discuss the various options and arrive at a consensus on legislation.
The bill requires at least one meeting of the task force but allows for more.
The 12 members of the group would be made up of four senators and four delegates, each appointed by Klausmeier and Olszewski, who chair their respective delegations.
Olszewski, who is a resource teacher in Baltimore County, has not taken a public stand on the issue of changing school board appointments. He said he would likely not appoint himself to the panel should the bill pass.
Three other members would be appointed by the county executive and the final member would be appointed by the County Council, which is chaired by John Olszewski Sr., the delegate's father.
If passed, the law would take effect July 1 with a final recommendation expected by Oct. 1.
At least seven members of the panel would need to approve any proposed changes for it to be considered the group's official recommendation.
County delegates and senators have debated how school board members are chosen since 2005.
The two delegations are expected to take up the issue again this session.
Sen. Bobby Zirkin, a Democrat, said he intends to continue to push a bill that would create a partially elected and partially appointed school board. He does not favor a summer study group.
"You're not going to learn anything other than maybe the information that the new county executive wants to present," said Zirkin, adding that all the contention over making a change is unwarranted.
"It's only complicated if you don't trust the voters of Baltimore County," Zirkin said. "It's only complicated if you have a bourgeoisie view of the world where benevolent leaders make decisions for the masses."
Del. Steve Lafferty also said last week he expects an effort to change the current process of appointing school board members will be taken up by the county's 21 delegates.
Del. John Olszewski Jr. said the bill he and Klausmeier are sponsoring "is not an attempt to hold up any changes."
"My hope would be that next year we could have a bill that would pass both chambers and this issue would be settled finally," Olszewski Jr. said.
Klausmeier, in a Jan. 28 interview, said the task force would likely be a summer work group.
The delegation talked several years ago about creating an informal summer work group, with hearings around the county, but those meetings never materialized.
“I have heard a wide range of opinions on this topic when I talk to parents, teachers, administrators and other interested individuals,” Klausmeier said in a statement. “I think it is time for us to convene a group to formally hear what people have to say and make a decision about how to move forward.”
County Executive Kevin Kamanetz is said to support Klausmeier and Olszewski's efforts.
"School board selection is a complex issue, and the chairs of the county delegations recognize how important it is to have all of the data presented and hear from important stakeholders prior to making any legislative changes," Kamenetz said in the statement released by Klausmeier.
In the past, Kamenetz has said he would support an elected school board only if the board were also given its own taxing authority.