A state Senate committee Friday approved an amended version of a controversial Baltimore County school board bill.
The Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee approved the bill by a vote of 7-3. Sens. Joanne Benson, Bill Ferguson, and Karen Montgomery—Democrats from Prince George's County, Baltimore City and Montgomery County, respectively—voted against the bill.
Sen. Joan Carter Conway, a Baltimore City Democrat and chairwoman of the committee, abstained.
The committee voted to pass the bill after adopting amendments proposed by Sen. James Rosapepe, a Democrat who represents Anne Arundel and Prince George's Counties.
Rosapepe's amendment creates a hybrid board with six elected members and five appointed members. The elected members would come from districts drawn by the Baltimore County Council in consultation with the Baltimore County Board of Education.
If the bill becomes law, the first elections would be held in 2014. The five appointments would be made in staggered terms by the governor.
The committee's vote comes one day after the same committee delayed the vote and supporters said its prospects for passage appeared grim.
"This is a tremendous step for the bill," said Zirkin, adding that he had no problem with the amendments.
"There's no pride in authorship," said Zirkin. "For me, it's always been about giving Baltimore County residents something they've never had before—an opportunity to vote for their school board members."
Zirkin thanked Conway for the work on the bill.
Conway, in an interview earlier this week, said the bill might die in her committee and expressed concerns about the bill reducing minority representation on the 11-member board.
The committee delayed a vote Thursday after a heated 20-minute debate over the bill.
The bill could come up for a vote in the full Senate as early as next week.