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Bill Advances on Power Shift for Prince George's County, Md., Schools

From guest blogger Alyssa Morones

Maryland's state government took a step forward this week in facilitating partial takeover of the school system in Prince George's County. The Baltimore Sun reported that the county's state Senate delegation voted in support of a bill that would give County Executive Rushern L. Baker III the power to select the county school system's next chief executive officer.

Along with the power to select the chief executive officer, this latest bill would give the county executive the power to choose the chair and vice chair of the school board. Four of the school board members would also be appointed—three by the county executive and one by the county council—to join the existing nine elected members and one student member. The bill is somewhat different from the bill Baker originally sought to strip the board of most of its powers. For example, under the latest version of the bill the board could still override the CEO's management decisions with a two-thirds majority.

At present, the county's board is responsible for hiring the school system's CEO, approving the budget, and setting salaries, but controversy over the board's search for a new schools chief has upheld the selection process—the seat has been vacant since September.

Not everyone in the state is as pleased with the bill as Baker. The Maryland Association of Boards of Education and the Maryland State Education Association both oppose the bill, arguing in favor of maintaining the current system of checks and balances between the schools and county government.

The bill must still pass the state Senate and House before it becomes law, but these state legislators usually defer to the wishes of home-county legislators.

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