Mayor Pugh wants control of city schools given back to the city

Posted at 5:24 PM, Feb 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-22 07:07:13-05

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh says this bill is one of her top priorities.

"In this piece of legislation it sets up a panel where people can submit names to the mayor and we'll look at all those names," she said.

The current system was set up 20 years ago. Right now, board members are selected through a city-state partnership, so the mayor and the governor both get to pick people to serve on Baltimore's school board.

Pugh is asking the general assembly to give her the final say.

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Some lawmakers agree, saying the current system is outdated and slow. 

"The bill doesn't work for us in this current form,"  said senator Joan Carter Conway, who chairs the Senate Committee that oversees education. She's also the sponsor of this bill. 

"So this is more expedient, you select a panel, they vet the individuals, contingent upon who the panel selects, then it goes to the mayor and city council," Conway said.

The city school board sets policy, oversees the school system's budget, as well as hires and fires the superintendent.

Current member Cheryl Casciani also testified Tuesday. She feels making this change is good for the school's governing body because there will be more public awareness about the process. 

"If not a lot of people know, it can appear to be a very closed process, when in fact there's no barriers to entry right now, anybody can submit their name," she said.

Pugh is confident this bill has support, including from the governor.

"When we look at some of the problems that the school system is facing I want to make sure that we have people on the school board who understand the problems of the school system and how we need to enhance the school system and make it better," Pugh said.

The board is currently made up of nine full commissioners and a student member. Starting in 2022, two additional elected commissioners will be added to the group.

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