This session saw the introduction of more than 2,600 bills, with more than 350 relating directly or indirectly to the funding, operation, or governance of local school systems. MABE monitored all of these bills, and submitted written and oral testimony on more than 75 separate pieces of legislation. MABE’s legislative priorities focused on preserving local board governance authority, securing adequate operating and capital funding, and opposing legislative encroachment into the education policy and regulatory arena reserved to local boards of education in conjunction with the State Board. Major legislation enacted in 2013 includes the passage of landmark reforms in college and career readiness aligned with the Common Core Standards, and the restructuring of the governance structure of the Prince George’s County board of education and office of the superintendent. The budget and policy outcomes of the 2013 legislative session impacting Maryland’s public school systems, boards of education, employees, and students are highlighted in MABE's 2013 Session Summary.
UPDATE (APRIL 7, 2013): HB1107, Prince George's County School Board Governance, Passed: The House concurred with the final passage of HB1107 by a vote of 81 to 45. MABE thanks all boards and members for their efforts to block this legislation. Please see below for a summary of the bill as passed and MABE’s reasons for opposing.
As adopted, HB1107 severely undermines the local boards’ governance authority. It allows the Prince George's County Government to have an unprecedented role in selecting the school system's superintendent and 4 members of the board of education.
House Bill 1107, as passed by the Senate on April 4 and in the House on April 6, 2013:
- Adds 3 members appointed by the County Executive (AMENDMENT: Increased from 2 to 3);
- Adds 1 member appointed by the County Council (AMENDMENT: Reduced from 2 to 1);
- Allows the County Executive to select the Chair and Vice-Chair of the board (AMENDMENT: Vice-Chair must be chosen from elected board members);
- Allows the County Executive to fill any vacancies on the board;
- Requires a two-thirds vote of the board to take any action contrary to an action of the CEO (superintendent); (AMENDMENT: Two-thirds vote rule does not apply to personnel actions or appeals from personnel actions);
- Creates a search committee for the next CEO that does not include any board members;
- Allows the County Executive to select the next CEO based on the 3 finalists recommended by the search committee; and
- Allows the CEO to hire and set salaries for a chief operating officer, chief finance officer, chief academic officer, chief of staff, board liaison, and any other necessary executive staff.
MABE opposed this legislation because it:
- Eliminates the ability of a local board of education to hire its own superintendent;
- Allows the County Executive to select board leadership; and
- Creates an inappropriate so-called "hybrid" board that includes members appointed by the local government and local funding authority – creating an unprecedented conflict of interest in the context of budget negotiations and other issues.
MABE strongly advocated, in the alternative, a "hybrid" board that would have included members both appointed by the Governor and locally elected (as in Harford and Caroline Counties) or a board of members jointly selected by the Mayor and Governor from a list of candidates selected by the State Board of Education (as in Baltimore City). Instead, under the provisions of House Bill 1107, the Prince George's County Executive and Council select 4 members of the board, and the County Executive selects the Chair and Vice-Chair.
In addition, MABE advocated for amendments that would have provided the board a role in, at the very least, selecting finalists for the position of CEO; and an amendment to allow the board members to elect their own officers, rather than being selected by the County Executive.
Again, none of these amendments were discussed by the subcommittee or full committee, with the outcome being a vote to concur to the Senate-amended version of the bill, and thereby avoiding amendments which could have resulted in a conference committee, and facilitating the prompt passage in the full House.
Click here to read the Senate-amendments that were adopted on the Senate-passed version of House Bill 1107.