Local: Education

Prince George's state senators pass watered down school reform bill

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Local,Maryland,Education,Matt Connolly,Prince Georges County

State senators from Prince George's County approved a bill giving County Executive Rushern Baker more control over the county school system, though the proposal is a far cry from Baker's original takeover plans.

Under the bill, the system's $1.7 billion in funding would remain in the hands of the county school board. Four new voting members would be added, with the county executive appointing three and the county council appointing one. The executive would also appoint the board's chair and vice chair, though the latter would have to be a board member already elected by the voters.

"I think adding four people with an education background will only help put more eyes on the system to try and improve academic achievement," said State Sen. Douglas J.J. Peters, D-Prince George's, who chairs the county's delegation.

The county executive would also be able to choose the system's CEO, effectively a superintendent, though they would have to pick from a list of candidates prepared by three-person panel made up of one appointee from the president of the state board of education and two appointees from Maryland's governor.

The CEO would not be a member of the executive's cabinet, though he or she would be required to attend cabinet meetings.

"Now we're responsible along with the school board," Baker said. "It's on me. That's what I asked for."

The bill passed 7-1, with only State Sen. C. Anthony Muse, D-Prince George's, voting against. It will now move on for full senate approval, potentially as early as Thursday. Once local legislation is approved by the county delegation, the full legislature generally passes it as a "courtesy," according to Peters.

mconnolly@washingtonexaminer.com

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