After about three months of work, including nine publicly available meetings on YouTube, the County Board of Education Task Force has submitted their recommendations to the County Executive. The most significant recommendations involve the makeup of the Board and its leadership.
The Task Force has recommended that the Board be returned to an all-elected, nine-member plus one student member format. This recommendation, like the others, will require the State General Assembly to get involved and pass legislation, in this case reversing HB-1107-2013.
They have also recommended allowing the Board to elect their own leadership, a move applauded by current Board member Shayla Adams-Stafford (D4). Ms. Adams-Stafford wrote that having the County Executive appoint the Chair and Vice-Chair is a big issue because “they set the agenda for board meetings, determining who can speak and for how long, as well as which policies are considered.“ She says this “gives unelected officials the ability to exclude the voices of elected members of the board. It also allows the possibility that the County Executive could appoint obstructionists to preempt the efforts of elected board members with whom they disagree politically.”
Other recommendations by the Task Force include modest compensation changes, clarifying language, and giving the ethics panel some autonomy. The Task Force passed the complete list of 19 recommendations at the last meeting. Here’s the list, taken from the meeting video:
- School Board Members’ compensation shall be increased to $27,000 and adjusted every four years by the calculated regional cost of living adjustments. School board chair compensation shall be $32,000 and adjusted accordingly.
- School Board Members should be limited to 2 terms.
- School Board Members avail themselves of professional development opportunities, including conferences sponsored by the National School Board Assoc, MD Assoc of Bd of Ed, Council of Urban Bd of Ed. In addition, members shall report publicly their professional development activities. Reports shall be oral and written
- School Board Members should participate in an Annual retreat during which bd members access and conduct self-evaluation. Evaluations should be made public on its findings and strategies to address opportunities for improvement.
- School Board should consist of 9 elected members and 1 student member.
- School Board Members should be elected from single-member districts.
- School Board Candidates are prohibited from being on slates or sample ballots.
- School Board should elect its own Chair and Vice-Chair for one-year terms.
- The powers and responsibilities of the Board Chair should be codified.
- School Board elections should allow for public financing.
- School Board must update bylaws every 4 years.
- Change the CEO position to Superintendent position.
- Redefine the purpose of the County Board of Education to focus on higher levels of achievement. (a rephrasing of the current language from “raise the level”)
- Redefine the power limits of the County Board of Education (Current law prohibits Bd from implementing certain policies that contradict the day-to-day managements and certain fiscal affairs of the PGCPS by the CEO. However, these terms are too broad and should be clarified.)
- Redefine the general duty of the Board of Education to focus on equity. (replace County Code Language from “equal” or “equality” to “equity” or “equitable.” The idea here is to make it so that kids get what they need instead of everyone getting the same thing.)
- Redefine the power of the County Board of Education to establish advisory Committees. (to ensure that the appointed committees are representative of all 9 districts.)
- Redefine the Removal Authority for a member of the County Board of Education. (Currently, MD Gov needs to be involved, but should be changed to the just the State Board of Education to be in line with everyone else in MD)
- Clarify the ability of student member to engage in exec sessions. (Need to clarify when the student member is allowed to be a part of the executive sessions. This is to protect the student member from political entanglements and conflict with public & other bd members.)
- Codify and Redefine the Approval process of the Ethics Panel Findings. (Remove the bd’s ability to vote to dismiss violations. Ethics Panel should have some autonomy)