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Stone considers supporting school board bill

Over the last seven years Sen. Norman R. Stone Jr. has been a staunch opponent of any form of an elected school board in Baltimore County.

But Stone Wednesday gave indications that he could be moving away from opposing a bill creating a hybrid elected-appointed school board in his home county.

Sen. Norman Stone

On Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, Sen. Norman Stone discusses supporting a bill that would create a hybrid appointed-elected school board in Baltimore County. (The Daily Record/Bryan P. Sears)

“I’m considering supporting it,” Stone said during a brief interview on the Senate floor.

“Generally, I’ve been opposed to elected school boards,” Stone said. “I don’t like them.”

Primary among the reasons Stone said he didn’t like elected school boards is a concern that it would politically charge the education system.

Currently, the 12 members of the Baltimore County Board of Education  are all appointed members. That model is in the minority of school boards in the state. There are 17 counties with elected school boards in Maryland and another three that use a hybrid elected-appointed model.

The addition of Stone to a list of supporters would increase the chances of the bill finally passing this year.

Four senators who supported the bill last year—Sens. Jim Brochin, Joseph M. Getty, J.B. Jennings and Bobby Zirkin—are onboard to do so again this year.

Zirkin, D-Baltimore, had led the effort to pass the legislation in each of the last six years.

Last week, Sen. Edward J. Kasemeyer, D-Howard and Baltimore, said he would support the bill this year after not supporting it last year.

Two other senators, Kathy Klausmeier and Delores Kelley, both Baltimore County Democrats, have repeatedly opposed any form of elected school board.

In 2013, Kasemeyer withdrew his support for Zirkin’s proposed hybrid school board bill and delayed passage for another year. Stone, who has announced his retirement from the legislature after 50 years in office, said he might be ready to support the idea of a partially elected and partially appointed board  now.

“It seems to work well in other counties,” Stone said.