OCEAN CITY – Wicomico County Council members decided this week to re-send their initial request to the state delegation concerning an elected school board.
On Tuesday morning, the council debated whether they should suggest the delegation include the option of a fully elected school board or hybrid on the ballot.
Several public comment sessions have been held to collect a consensus on the county’s opinion of whether the school board should be elected or remain appointed by the governor, and if the voters choose an elected school board, whether it should be fully elected or a mix of appointed and elected members.
Last year, the council formally asked the county’s delegation in Annapolis to introduce legislation creating a non-binding vote on a change from the current appointed school board by the governor to one elected by Wicomico voters. Bills were introduced in both the House and Senate, but language added late in the process suggesting a hybrid of elected and appointed school board members stalled the legislation and the bills died as the General Assembly session closed.
This week Councilwoman Sheree Sample-Hughes spoke in favor of providing three options on the ballot that would include whether an elected school board should be fully elected or hybrid so that the public is knowledgeable that there are three options available.
“I think years ago when it was on the ballot for citizens to review or give their opinion on there weren’t many counties that had the hybrid,” she said. “So I think in order to give the full picture and the true picture is to have the three options on the ballot.”
Council President Gail Bartkovich reminded the council that a question has been raised on whether the voting machines in the state provide multiple choice questions without being re-programmed at a considerable cost to the county.
Councilman Matt Holloway said that issue can be resolved by offering two questions. The first being whether the voter believes the school board should change from appointed to elected, and if yes the second question should be if an the school board should be fully elected or hybrid.
Bartkovich asked the council to consider keeping its initial request the same, which is placing a question on the ballot at the next general election in 2012 for a "straw vote" on the establishment of an elected school board for Wicomico County.
The majority of the council came to a consensus that if the votes favor an elected school board at that point in time it will be determined whether the board will be fully elected or hybrid by either a vote or by council.