Cumberland Times-News

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February 6, 2013

County’s seat on local board of ed could end

CUMBERLAND — The practice of having the Allegany County commission president as an ex-officio, or non-voting, member of the board of education could end if legislation requested by commissioners becomes law.

The rationale for the move is pretty simple, said Allegany County Commission President Michael McKay, the current ex-officio member.

“The meetings and executive sessions don’t normally pertain to county government” McKay said. He’s often stuck in board meetings for several hours.

“Time is important to me,” McKay said.

The time could be better spent on county issues, like economic development, he said.

“It’s a flaw in the model,” McKay said, adding that the move will also help relations between the two governmental bodies.

“The days of drama have ended,” McKay said, adding that the two organizations are working well together. The county commissioners and board have had some disagreements over the past two years.

“Our relationship needs to be strengthened and this will strengthen it,” McKay said.

McKay said there are other ways commissioners can interact with the school board and do their part to review school board activities. Commissioners control the school board’s purse strings, among other controls.

The board of education, too, would benefit from elimination of the position, he said.

McKay said he sometimes is concerned board members might not feel free to discuss their best interests and plans in relation to county government. He said previous commissioners who have sat as an ex-officio members have also expressed concerns about the need for the position.

Legally, McKay could also ask one of the other commissioners to be an ex-officio member, but it’s typically the president of the commission.

The board of education has not formally considered the issue and the item has not been on their meeting agenda, said David Cox, Allegany County superintendent of schools.

The board has received no official notification or request to take a position from commissioners, Cox said.

“This effort was initiated by the county commissioners, and when approached informally, school board members expressed no opposition, nor did they advocate for the change,” said Mia Perlozzo Cross, public relations specialist for the board of education.

If the bill becomes law, the board would more closely resemble other boards in the state.

Contact Matthew Bieniek at mbieniek@times-news.com.

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