ANNAPOLIS – The Howard County delegation voted Wednesday to sponsor a bill to reduce terms for the county’s Board of Education members from six to four years, while maintaining the board’s membership at five.
“Six years is too long,” said Sen. Robert H. Kittleman, R-Howard. “A lot of members do not want to serve that long.”
The proposal approved by the delegation would keep the school board at its current five members. The original bill drafted by Delegate Elizabeth Bobo, D- Howard, would have increased membership to seven.
The prospect of serving six years had dissuaded many potential candidates from running for the Board, Kittleman said.
“That consensus is still there,” he said.
Kittleman proposed keeping the board’s current membership because the county charter dictates membership must increase to seven when the county’s student population reaches 50,000.
“We’re currently at (about) 43,000, so that will happen automatically eventually,” Kittleman said.
The bill was approved, 8-1, with only Bobo dissenting over the membership issue.
The delegation must next decide how the four-year terms will be phased in, possibly beginning this year, before sending the bill to the General Assembly.
The only member of the school board up for re-election this year is Chairman Jane B. Schuchardt.
The bill will go to the House Commerce and Government Matters Committee, where Kittleman said it should pass automatically as a local courtesy bill.
The delegation also supported a bill sponsored by Delegate John A. Giannetti Jr., D-Howard, clarifying that Howard County students who attend the Laurel College Center will pay in-county tuition and fees retroactive to Aug. 27, 2001, when the college opened.
While the delegation did not vote on the measure Wednesday, once technical changes are made the issue is likely to pass.
The Laurel College Center is a joint effort between Howard Community College and Prince George’s Community College to fill a need for convenient and affordable access to continuing education in an underserved area.
Howard students currently pay the in-county rate of $81 per credit for most courses at the center, said Nancy Grinberg, program supervisor of the Laurel College Center.
Out-of-county tuition for students outside Howard and Prince George’s Counties is $178 per credit, Grinberg said.