A volatile proposal to require Prince George's schoolteachers to reside in the county is expected to be discussed at tonight's regular meeting of the Prince George's school board.
The controversial resolution was introduced by board member Angelo Castelli at the last school board meeting.
A spokesman for the Prince George's County Educators Association, angered by the proposal, warned that if it were adopted, the union would not permit the board to use it as a bargaining point in forthcoming contract talks.
County Executive Larry Hogan said he favored the plan. "I think it's a great idea," he said.
Hogan, according to his press aide, has an informal policy requiring his top aides to live in the county, but county workers are permitted to live anywhere they choose.
The resolution would require all teachers hired after next July to move to Prince George's County within six months. Teachers already living outside the county would be exempt from the requirement, except that if they decide to move -- even one block from their present homes -- they would have to move into the county to continue teaching there.
The rule would apply to some administrative personnel as well as teachers, according to a school official.
The concept behind the proposal is that teachers who gain their livelihood from the county should contribute their taxes and presence to the county.
Although several board members and school officials were aware that the residence idea was being discussed, most were surprised by its introduction at the Oct. 9 meeting. Some observers, including union spokesman Steve Bittner, asked, "Why a residence requirement, and why now?"
"Castelli's answer: "Why not?"
"Is it evil to require that a teacher live in the county?" Castelli said. "If a [teacher] is dissatisfied and wants to move, what's wrong with having them move to Prince George's?"
Bittner's response was equally strong. "I'm furious," he said. "It interferes with people's right to choose where they live. What in the world does this have to do with education? It smakes of Big Brotherism . . . I think that's unAmerican."
Five or six years ago, according to board member Al Golato, he and former member Sue Mills introduced a similar resolution that met so much controversy it was tabled.
At that time, union officials estimated that 20 percent of the county's 6,000 teachers lived beyonds its borders.
Bittner said that about 300 teachers would be hired next year would be the first affected by the resolution. The union will file suit if the proposal is adopted, he said.
Castelli's proposal raised several practicle issues.
Because many teachers have spouses who work in other jurisdictions, it might be inconvenient for the teachers to live in Prince George's County.
It might probe difficult to enforce the requirement that teachers, if they move from one place to another, move to Prince George's, according to one personnel official.
The residence requirement may make it harder to attract quality teachers to Prince George's County.
The resolution may prompt retaliatory measures by surrounding jurisdictions that would cost the county more than it would gain.