School board expansion is proposed

February 05, 1997


Staff Writer

ANNAPOLIS - State lawmakers agreed Wednesday to propose legislation that would increase the size of the Washington County Board of Education from five to seven members.

The Washington County legislative delegation voted 7-1 in favor of the expansion. The delegation did not move on a proposal that would have divided the county into geographic districts in an effort to make sure the various areas of the county were represented on the board.

Del. D. Bruce Poole, D-Washington, one of the leading supporters of districting, backed off the plan, citing potential logistical problems. He also voiced concern that there had been very little public input on the issue.


"I just have a concern that we not put this thing in place and later hear people say, `I didn't know this was going on,'" said Poole, the only delegation member to vote against the expansion.

Current school board members have said they favored expanding the size of the board because doing so would facilitate a committee framework that would enable the board to take on increasingly complex educational issues.

Members of the Washington County Commissioners told the delegation they opposed the move because the current five-member board works fine and adding two members would make it more difficult to reach consensus on some issues.

County Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said there is no need to increase the size of the school board because school enrollment is relatively flat. That argument was challenged by Del. J. Anita Stup, R-Frederick/Washington.

"I don't see any correlation at all, with all due respect, between the number of students and the number of members on the school board," she said.

County Commissioner R. Lee Downey said adding two seats would increase the opportunity for someone "a little radical" to get elected.

Ronald L. Bowers was the only commissioner to support the expansion.

The commissioners refused last fall to take even an informal position in the matter, a point delegation members reminded them of Wednesday.

"I'm not sure why suddenly, at the last minute, you all have decided it's not necessary to expand" the school board, said Del. Robert A. McKee, R-Washington.

Snook said they "rethought" the issue since then.

"We're not going to the grave over it, but we just wanted to voice our opinion with the delegation," he said.

If the legislation is approved by the General Assembly, the school board would expand after its next members are elected in 1998.

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