Saturday, January 07, 2006

Splits in the politburo: School Board breaks into factions

After six years of near-unanimity, the Montgomery County Board of Education is splitting into factions, with Superintendent Jerry Weast losing control of the elected body that should have been controlling him.

That's what the Gazette reports in an informative story with on-the-record comments from several board officials.

"There is definitely a split, an ideological split," said board member Valerie Ervin (Dist. 4) of Silver Spring. "The superintendent is no longer in control of the board the way he was the previous five or six years."

Ervin says that board members Steven Abrams, Sharon Cox and Gabriel Romero "see their role as protecting Jerry Weast."

Members Nancy Navarro and Ervin, as well as student member Sebastian Johnson, from the second main bloc.

Patricia O'Neill and Charles Haughey are considered swing votes, for a 3-3-2 factional balance. Cox denies the existence of factions.

Reporter Sean R. Sedam writes, "This board is different than those of recent years. Members occasionally interrupt each other or trade terse one-line jabs. The digs are subtle. The ideological differences are deep-seated, and unanimous votes, a frequent occurrence in years past, are less common."

Haughey, Navarro, O'Neill and Romero face re-election late this year; student Johnson must step down in June.