WESTMINSTER - Fifth-grade teacher Susan Adami spends about $300 out of her own pocket each year for classroom materials.
Even so, the Hampstead Elementary teacher donated $50 to the Board of Education budget when she paid her county property taxes earlier this summer.
"As a parent and as a teacher, I feel that the education of our children is one of the most important responsibilities of a society," Adami wrote in a letter to County Commissioner Julia W. Gouge.
Gouge subsequently thanked Adami, who was one of more than two dozen taxpayers who contributed $1,436 to the education budget after receiving a flier about the new donation program with their annual tax bills.
Donations ranged from $5 to $500, said Karen Fisher, supervisor of the county tax collections office.
Gouge suggested a taxpayer donation program after several residents told her they were willing to make donations to the schools.
Initial plans called for a donation check-off box to be included on tax bills, but the bills already had been printed when the program was approved, Fisher said. Instead, taxpayers received fliers along with their bills.
Fisher said about 80 percent of the 47,138 tax bills mailed July 1 have been paid.
Just how county schools will spend the money has not been determined, said William H. Hyde, assistant superintendent of administration.
"(The money) could buy any number of things," he said. "We have no plans at this time on spending. We have to get a handle on what's coming in first."
Hyde said any additional dollars in a $100 million annual budget will benefit "kids and programs."
Although Gouge expressed disappointment with the response, she said the effort was worthwhile. Some school officials had opposed the idea.
"If money comes in to buy one extra computer in a classroom, it's worth it," she said.
Gouge said several factors, ranging from a sluggish economy to higher tax assessments, could have contributed to the poor response. She said the commissioners will review the program to determine its future course.
"It did not involve that much additional work," said Gouge, adding she also would like to see how other counties with similar programs have fared.
Board of Education members Cheryl A. McFalls and Carolyn L. Scott, however, remain opposed to the program.
"When you think of all the monetary needs of schools, $1,436 is certainly appreciated," McFalls said. "But it's not going to make much of an impact on the needs of the schools."
She said the responsibility of financing Carroll County Public Schools rests with the County Commissioners. The donation program, she said, is not going to give the school system the additional dollars it needs.
"I appreciate the money, but if the commissioners feel this is a way to fund schools, the amount taken in should show them that it isn't," she said.
Scott said she was "shocked" anybody would donate to the program, but maintained her position that the program is a waste of time.
"If the commissioners want to fund education, fund education," she said. "Everybody is responsible for education. The amount should be determined by the commissioners."