Prince George’s delegation delays school board review panel another week

February 8, 2013

A measure that would set up a panel to review the operations of the Prince George’s County Board of Education hit some hurdles Friday, and members of the county’s House delegation decided to delay consideration for another week.

The measure, sponsored by Del. Geraldine Valentino-Smith (D-Prince George’s), would establish a group to review how school board members are selected, what qualifications they should have, and establish criteria for accountability, oversight and results.

The county has had both elected and appointed school boards in the past two decades, but the school system has continued to lag behind neighboring jurisdictions in student achievement.

Del. Melony Griffith (D-Prince George’s), who raised questions about the bill during Friday’s meeting in Annapolis of the Prince George’s House delegation, said she was concerned that multiple organizations were examining the school system and that the panel envisioned by the bill might be redundant.

School board officials also have expressed misgivings about the bill, and only recently withdrew their opposition.

Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) recently set up his own education commission to examine school system operations, and the Prince George’s County Council is expecting this year to consider seeking an outside performance audit of the school system, which accounts for about half of the county’s $2.7 billion budget.

Del. Jay Walker (D-Prince George’s), chairman of a delegation committee which approved the bill, reluctantly agreed to hold it for another week. Several lawmakers said they believe Valentino-Smith has the votes lined up to secure passage in the House delegation.

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