ANNAPOLIS, FEB. 24 -- Two Senate committees voted overwhelmingly today to kill a bill creating a public math and science boarding school, dismaying Maryland Gov. William Donald Schaefer on one of his top priorities this legislative season.
The 10-to-1 vote, without discussion, in the Economic and Environmental Affairs Committee essentially sealed the fate of the proposed school, where 600 of Maryland's brightest teen-agers would live and study advanced courses in math and science.
A few hours later, the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee followed suit, killing the bill on a 13-to-0 vote, according to committee Chairman Laurence Levitan (D-Montgomery). The measure remains alive in the House, but the Senate's opposition makes it highly unlikely the school will be created this year.
Schaefer's "initial reaction is that it's over," the governor's press secretary, Robert Douglas, said after the vote. "He regrets that the legislature voted down a proposal which would have been a true benefit for Marylanders."
The lone proponent today was Sen. John N. Bambacus (R-Allegany/Garrett), who had been undecided until shortly before the vote.
Although Bambacus said he liked the idea of the school, he had said earlier this week that he was uncomfortable supporting it without greater assurances from Schaefer that poor, rural schools in his Western Maryland district would receive larger state subsidies over the next few years.
But he said he believes the school, which would offer advanced science and math courses to unusually bright 10th through 12th graders, would help keep the United States technologically competitive with other nations.
Although Schaefer's aides had worked vigorously for months to drum up support for the school, the proposal was unpopular with many teachers and parents throughout the state. Legislative budget analysts advised legislators to kill the plan, arguing that the school would be too expensive -- roughly $13,000 per student annually -- and would replicate advanced courses available in local high schools.
Senate committee members said this week they believed the school would be elitist and would use money better devoted to local school systems.