Meanwhile, reaction among union and community leaders was mixed.
Earnest Moore, president of the Prince George’s County PTA Council, said Baker’s proposal “blindsided” his group.
Doris Reed, who represents the principals union, said her members have been frustrated with the board and are unlikely to join any effort to keep the current structure in place.
“We’re not saying [Baker’s] plans are perfect or we’re in agreement, but someone has to look at the current Board of Education,” Reed said. “We won’t publicly come out in favor of it, but we are not going to oppose it.”
Shirley Adams, the president of AFSCME Local 2250, which represents 5,700 employees, including bus drivers, said her union has been unhappy with some of the financial decisions the board has made, actions that, she said, have contributed to employees not receiving raises.
Adams referred to a push by the board to enter into a lease-purchase agreement on a group of buildings in 2008 and 2009. At the time, then-County Executive Jack B. Johnson (D) and the General Assembly, led by Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert), questioned the board about spending $36 million for a new school headquarters when it was cutting programs that would affect classrooms. The board backed out of the deal after Miller threatened to cut state funding.
Adams also accused the board of violating labor laws when it failed to pay processing and payment fees for more than 1,000 teachers who came to the county on temporary work visas.
“It affects all of us financially, and therefore none of our members have been able to get anniversary raises for the last five years,” Adams said. “Still, they have been faithfully serving the students. A lot of them have lost their homes and vehicles due to the bad decisions of the school board members.”
But Adams said she is concerned about giving a new superintendent so much power.
“There needs to be more accountability and responsibility, and my heart applauds [Baker] for wanting to step up to the plate,” she said. “But I’m not sure if he can be attentive to what happens [in the school system] with all his other responsibilities.”