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Panel will help fill Board of Education vacancy

An independent screening committee will send three names to Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich, who will decide who will fill the last two y

An independent screening committee will send three names to Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich, who will decide who will fill the last two y

January 17, 2003|by LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

ANNAPOLIS - An independent screening committee is being formed to help fill a vacancy on the Washington County Board of Education.

Once its members are appointed, the committee will have 45 days to send three names to Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich, said Del. Robert A. McKee, chairman of the Washington County Delegation to the Maryland General Assembly.

Ehrlich ultimately will decide who will serve the last two years of Doris Nipps' term on the School Board.

Nipps had to resign when she became a Washington County Commissioner in December.

The seven-member screening committee will have one member from each of the following groups: Washington County Commissioners, state senators, state delegates, Washington County Board of Education, Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce, Washington County Council of Parent-Teacher Associations and Washington County Citizens Advisory Committee.

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Those who have an interest in being appointed to the School Board cannot serve on the screening committee, said McKee, R-Washington.

Washington County Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan's office will serve as a clearinghouse for applications.

The School Board has come up with a set of objective criteria to screen the applicants, she said.

"I'd be very pleased to help the delegates in this process. Obviously, the board and staff has a very vested interest. This should be a very objective process that will yield the best person for the job," Morgan said.

There is nothing in state law that dictates the process for filling a School Board vacancy, McKee said.

Local lawmakers put their heads together and came up with a way to help Ehrlich fill the job without getting politics involved, McKee said.

If the process works well, lawmakers may pursue putting it into state law, he said.

The governor's office originally was going to announce the process, but Ehrlich's staff has been preoccupied with larger issues, McKee said.

Ehrlich was inaugurated Wednesday and today he's expected to release his plan for closing an expected $1.7 billion budget shortfall.

Lawmakers got the go-ahead from Ehrlich's office to initiate the process so the vacancy can be filled as quickly as possible, McKee said.

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