The Baltimore County Board of Education originated in 1816 as the State School Fund Commissioners, who headed the County's new public school system. Later, they were restructured and renamed as the County School Commissioners, and the Board of County School Commisioners

State School Fund Commissioners. The General Assembly, in 1816, appointed nine commissioners to oversee the State school fund in each county (Chapter 256, Acts of 1816). The commissioners were to “establish a central free school in each election district” and report to the General Assembly on how funds were used. In the colonial period, free schools offered a curriculum that included “Latin, Greek, Writing, and the like” (Chapter 31, Acts of 1694). [It is not clear from the 1816 law if the word “free” refers to the classical curriculum or the lack of tuition.]

County School Commissioners. In 1825, a statewide public education system was formed (Chapter 162, Acts of 1825). Justices of the levy courts in each county appointed nine school commissioners who were to divide the county into school districts. The levy courts also appointed up to eighteen inspectors of primary schools for each county. The inspectors' charge was to examine teachers, issue teacher certificates, visit schools, give suggestions to teachers and school trustees, and report to the county school commissioners. Elected by the voters of each school district, three trustees were to purchase schoolhouse sites, repair and furnish the schoolhouses, and hire all teachers within the district. Authorized to keep records of school commissioner meetings, a district clerk was elected by the voters annually. A district collector collected monies from school taxes.

Board of County School Commissioners. In 1865, the State Board of Education called for a “uniform system of Free Public Schools” (Chapter 160, Acts of 1865). The public school system became centralized; “supervision and control of Public Instruction” was vested in the State Board of Education. The State Board appointed boards of county school commissioners in each county to serve four-year terms. Three years later, boards of county school commissioners regained control and supervision over county schools (Chapter 407, Acts of 1868). The public school system was no longer accountable to the State Board of Education. Within each county, voters elected county school commissioners, from each election district, to two-year terms. These school commissioners had custody over schoolhouse property and were expected to pay teacher salaries.

For all counties, including Baltimore County, the school commissioners reorganized in 1870 (Chapter 311, Acts of 1870). County circuit court judges were to appoint three school commissioners for their respective counties. At the same time, the Board of State School Commissioners, previously named the State Board of Education, was reformed.

In 1892, the Governor gained authority to appoint county school commissioners (Chapter 341, Acts of 1892). By 1900, the Governor was to take into consideration minority party representation when appointing county school commissioners (Chapter 29, Acts of 1900).

Board of Education. County school commissioners were renamed county boards of education in 1916 (Chapter 506, 1916). They were to be appointed by the Governor without regard to political affiliation.

Now, the Baltimore County Board of Education's thirteen members are appointed by the Governor to serve five-year terms (Code Education Article, secs. 3-108, 3-109). The Superintendent of Schools serves as secretary, treasurer, and executive officer of the Board (Code Education Article, sec. 4-102).

Beginning in December 2018, the Board of Education will become a hybrid board, with four members appointed by the Govenor, seven elected members, and one student member (Chapter 480, Acts of 2014; Code Education Article, sec. 3-2A-01).

In appointing members to the Board of Education, the Governor is assisted by the Baltimore County School Board Nominating Commission (Chapter 480, Acts of 2014; Code Education Article, sec. 3-2A-03).


Duties of the Baltimore County Superintendent of Schools originally were the responsibility of School Inspectors, then County Examiners, and later the County Superintendent of Public Education.

School Inspectors. The duties of superintendents of schools first were assigned to school inspectors in 1825 (Chapter 162, Acts of 1825). Levy courts were to appoint annually up to eighteen inspectors of primary schools for each county. The inspectors determined teacher qualifications, examined teachers, and issued teacher certificates. They also were expected to visit schools and offer suggestions to school district trustees. By 1835, the number of inspectors was reduced to three for each county (Chapter 278, Acts of 1835).

County Examiners. In 1868, county examiners assumed all duties of school inspectors, and were expected to serve as secretary, treasurer, and executive agent for county boards of school commissioners (Chapter 407, Acts of 1868). Appointed by boards of county school commissioners, county examiners were to visit each school at least twice a year in counties having 50 or fewer schools. This included Baltimore County. Additionally, they helped organize teacher associations at district, county and State levels; examined teachers in the presence of three county school commissioners; and notified teachers of meetings. By 1870, county examiners were to visit each school three times a year in counties having fewer than 50 schools (Chapter 311, Acts of 1870). Also, they were allowed to examine teacher candidates in the presence of one county school commissioner instead of three.

County Superintendent of Public Education. In 1904, county examiners were renamed county superintendents of public education (Chapter 584, Acts of 1904). Three times a year, they were required to visit each school in counties with 60 or fewer teachers. Twice a year, they went to schools in counties having more than 60 teachers, and once in those counties with more than 175 teachers.

Superintendents of Schools. By 1916, county superintendents of public education were renamed superintendents of schools (Chapter 506, Acts of 1916). The new superintendents were authorized to execute the laws of the State Board of Education, interpret all school laws, and decide disputes of the county boards of education about rules and regulations. In addition, superintendents could recommend to the county boards of education that schools be repaired or condemned. They could nominate all principals and assistant teachers for appointment by the county boards, grade and standardize public schools, create a textbook list, and determine school curriculum. Since 1916, the Superintendent of Schools has been appointed to four-year terms by the Board of Education.

The Superintendent administers the Baltimore County Public School System, and serves as executive officer, secretary, and treasurer of the Board of Education (Code Education Article, secs. 3-901 through 3-903; 4-102; 4-201 through 4-206).


The Community College of Baltimore County is a two-year public community college. The College originated as three separate colleges. Catonsville Junior College and Essex Junior College each were founded in 1957. Dundalk Community College opened in 1971. These colleges were restructured in October 1998 as the Community College of Baltimore County with campuses at Catonsville, Dundalk, and Essex.


In 1948, the Baltimore County Public Library System was established. It formed by consolidating twelve independent libraries into one system. Each of these libraries was started by a private association to meet public needs. While eight of them did not organize until the 1940s, four of them had earlier origins.

Initiated in 1915, the Tillard Memorial Library located in Franklin High School in Reistertown was the first public library in Baltimore County. The second was the Relay Community Library founded in 1929 by the Baltimore District of Federated Women's Clubs. Thereafter, the Sparrows Point Library opened at a site provided by Bethlehem Steel Corporation, and in 1936 the Towson Library was established by the Women's Club of Towson.

In 1940, the Dundalk Library was started by the Friends of the Dundalk Library. One year later, the Catonsville Library, sponsored by the Women's Club of Catonsville, was incorporated at Banneker High School. The Vil-gar Community Library Club started the Middle River Library in 1944, and the Memorial Library Association began the Pikesville Library in 1946. The following year, the Homemakers Club established the Cockeysville Library, the Friends of the Essex Public Library opened the Essex Library (originally in a room of the Essex School), and a library was formed at Turner Station. In 1948, the twelfth library - the Arbutus-Halethorpe Library - opened under the sponsorship of the Kiwanis Club.

Today, the Baltimore County Public Library supports seventeen branch libraries located at Arbutus, Catonsville, Cockeysville, Essex, Hereford, Lansdowne, Loch Raven, North Point, Parkville, Perry Hall, Pikesville, Randallstown, Reisterstown, Rosedale, Towson, White Marsh, and Woodlawn.

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