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Saturday, February 11, 2006

Education news summary: School board and CEO

(Posted 11 Feb 2006)
  • Schools CEO candidates to meet with county.
  • Parents, education advocates, elected officials and the media will have their chance to meet three candidates for the county public schools system top leadership slot next week. . . . After the three candidates are introduced the school board is expected to pick a finalist the following week.
  • Single-district board best for children.
  • Senate to debate election of school board members.
  • . . . The next move should come from the county’s Senate delegation. With the 2006 election season at hand, ‘‘I think most of us agree that we’d like to move quickly on something,” said Sen. Paul Pinsky (D-Dist. 22) of University Park.
    [. . .]
    Sen. Nathaniel Exum (D-Dist.24) of Capitol Heights, and Sen. Gwendolyn Britt (D-Dist.47) of Landover Hills, are the only senators to support returning to the old plan of having nine single-member districts.

    Exum said senators had not come to an official position but hinted that compromise might be in the air.

    ‘‘We’ll deal with it and do what’s in the best interest of the people of the county,” Exum said. ‘‘No decision has been made... but once we get the bill from the House we hope to come to some kind of agreement.”.
  • School board wrong to seek delay of residents’ right.
    • Gazette, 9 Feb 2006 (Editorial).
    • Critical of the appointed school board's attempt to extend its own life and of the board's refusal to allow public comment on the proposal. Quotes Board Chairwoman Beatrice Tignor.
  • County delegates slap down school board bid to stay in office.
    • Gazette, 3 Feb 2006 (by Leslie Quander Wooldridge and Guy Leonard, Special to The Gazette).
    . . . Del. Doyle Niemann (D-Dist.47) of Mount Rainier said the House action means the board’s resolution had little chance of success.

    ‘‘I don’t see that happening,” Niemann said of the resolution’s call.

    Niemann told The Gazette only two delegates supported an extension of the life of the appointed board when the House delegation voted on the matter.

    Appointed board members, whose tenure will end in November, passed the resolution on Feb. 2 that sought state approval for extension of its term to 2008.
    [. . .]
    At their Feb. 2 meeting in Upper Marlboro, School Board Chair Beatrice P. Tignor, Vice Chair Howard W. Stone Jr. and member Judy Mickens-Murray encouraged board members to take a position on whether they wanted to provide ‘‘continuity” for students. The appointed board is in the process of hiring a new chief executive officer. Mickens-Murray said if the board’s responsibility is to help children, it must maintain some continuity, not bring in nine new members.

    ‘‘Leaders sometimes must make unpopular decisions, but they must make the right decisions,” she said.

    Niemann said the board’s decision showed it had become unwilling to abdicate its position.

    ‘‘I think it’s a bad idea,” Niemann said of any attempt to extend the board’s term. ‘‘One thing that comes with being in power is that you think you have the only answer and that’s wrong. People who have power usually don’t want to give it up.”
    [. . .]
    After the work session ended, Tignor said removing the nine appointed members would be a ‘‘travesty of justice.” She added that the board adequately represents county districts because it is made up of diverse and well-qualified members.

    Tignor explained that residents could not have spoken on the resolution issue because of ‘‘policy and protocol,” which she said allowed public discussion only on the main agenda item: the proposed annual operating budget.

    ‘‘We believe in what we are doing,” she said of the resolution and board members’ contributions to the county. ‘‘We believe that we made a tremendous change.”

    Board member Dean Sirjue was absent, and student member Britney Davis abstained from the vote.
    [. . .].
  • Appointed Pr. George's Education Board Argues for Longer Tenure.
    • Post, 3 Feb 2006 (by Nick Anderson, Washington Post Staff Writer).
    . . . Board Vice Chairman Howard W. Stone Jr. (Mitchellville) said he plans to run if the election goes forward. But he also backed the proposed resolution. It urged lawmakers to extend the term of the appointed board by two years or establish "a hybrid board" that would include elected and appointed members.
    [. . .]
    In Annapolis, state Sen. Paul G. Pinsky (D-Prince George's) is pushing a new proposal to choose four at-large members of the school board through countywide voting and five members through electoral districts. It's unclear how much support his proposal has in the county's Senate delegation. But Pinsky said there is broad backing in the county for holding a school board election.

    "I believe it is an important step and one that is expected -- and supported -- by an overwhelming majority of Prince George's County citizens," Pinsky wrote in a Jan. 20 letter to state senators.

    Janis Hagey, a Bowie resident who is a leader in a group called Citizens for an Elected Board, said that postponing the election would provoke public anger. "We want to have the legislators keep their promise made in 2002," Hagey said, "and that was to return to an elected board in 2006."

    Last night, Hagey's group was told that it would not be allowed to address the board in opposition to the resolution.

    Critics of the appointed board note that none of its members live inside the Beltway, where many schools need improvement. They call the appointed board unaccountable and out of touch with ordinary citizens -- charges that board members deny.
    [. . .].

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