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Maryland Senate Committee Hears Prince George's County Schools Takeover Arguments

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Control of Prince George’s County Public Schools is a hot topic in Annapolis, Md., where a State Senate committee began hearing testimony Friday over whether to hand control over to County Executive Rushern Baker.

“I believe we need to make some changes in the way we set up the structure,” Baker said. “I believe that we all think there’s some changes that need to be made. The question before us is making those changes before we actually bring on a new superintendent.”

Senate Bill 1071 was introduced was introduced to the Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee by Sen. Douglas Peters, who also introduced the bill on the Senate floor last week. While changes are still being made to the bill, Baker's proposing that the superintendent be made a cabinet level position answering to him instead of the school board. 

“My thing was to make sure that we held the county executive and the county accountable for moving education in Prince George’s County,” Baker said.

“We see the way that it is written that we are missing quite a bit of checks and balances,” County Council Chair Andrea Harrison said.

Senate President Mike Miller, who reportedly supports the legislation, listened in on the testimony.

Prince George's County Council members and school board members were also present. At times school board members were visibly upset as they heard the county executive explain his reasons for wanting to change school governance.

“Other counties are watching, and they too are concerned they may be impacted by this bad policy in their local school system,” Prince George’s County School Board Chair Verjeana Jacobs said.

Follow Tracee Wilkins on Twitter at @traceewilkins

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