It really has happened, and I can't believe it.
I can't believe the Board of Education can simply take money earmarked for overtime custodian pay -- money used so youth sports groups can use school facilities on weekends -- and use it to cover expenses elsewhere.
The $600,000 the board has decided to spend elsewhere means our kids won't be able to play such popular winter sports as basketball and wrestling on the weekends, unless youth and recreation groups are able to come up with about $50 to $60 an hour.
Crofton attorney Jack Jordan, an assistant basketball coach at South River, questions whether the board can legally take money away from the youth programs, since it was put there specifically for that purpose by the county.
"It's really every taxpayer's money and I don't see how they can do it," Jordan says of the $1 million placed in the board's budget by the county Recreation and Parks Department. "Someone needs to take the gumption to file suit against the Board of Education. If you have paid your taxes, you are supposed to be given that service. (The board) can't take away a service which has already been paid for."
Former County Councilman Ted Sophocleus, who helped formulate this year's county budget, agrees. "It's illegal to do it that way," he says, "because that money is specifically for custodian overtime."
Jay Cuccia, assistant to the director of Rec and Parks, says his boss, Joe McCann, was running around late yesterday trying to come up with a plan to save the programs.
But elimination of the custodian overtime is one of several cuts that apparently do not need formal approval by the board. Although the action doesn't seem fair to our kids, it appears a done deed.
This whole thing may be an unfortunate sign of the times, but I don't see it ending here. The board will now have to brace itself for a train headed toward Riva Road, filled with parents whose smokestacks are hotter than the locomotive.
Now, let's hop on a bunch of Q's without As, sports fans. Don't forget to give me a call on the 24-hour Sportsline, 647-2499, if you have a response or question of your own. Christmas season is upon us and I know it would be easy to forget ol' Pat as you sip on your eggnog and munch those Christmas cookies.
But please don't.
Lest I forget, my annual Christmas list for county sports personalities comes out Sunday. If you have something for a special sports person please, leave a message on my Sportsline so I can include it in our stocking.
* Be nice, guys and girls.
You know I don't mind being ragged on and taking the heat for my buddy, Prophet Pat, but was it necessary for one kid from Northeast to use vulgarity on the Sportsline?
With about 10 phone calls coming in Friday night, cracking on the Prophet for picking North County over Northeast (the Eagles won, 74-51), why did one kid have to spoil the fun by uttering a name that can't be used here?
Other than those kinds of phone calls, don't you know the Prophet loves to hear from you, win or lose?
* Did you hear how overwhelmed the Maryland Special Olympics of Anne Arundel County were by the terrific response they got at Broadneck High Friday night, as they played games during halftimes of the girls and boys doubleheader between the Bruins and Chesapeake Cougars?
Some 15 Special Olympians from Marley Glen, Ruth Eason and Central Special schools experienced the thrill of playing in a high school hoops atmosphere at Broadneck. The gym was packed and enthusiastic, giving the Special Olympians an unforgettable evening.
"It was beyond our best expectations," said an ecstatic Clay White, a phys ed teacher at Marley Glen and head boys lacrosse coach at Broadneck.
He helped coordinate the game, along with Paige Serio, associate director of area services for the Special Olympics.
"The crowd was fantastic and completely behind the athletes," White said. "It was beyond anything I've experienced with the Special Olympics in 12 years. I can't say enough about the administration at Broadneck and the public for the respect they gave the athletes."
Bruins principal Lawrence Knight and athletic director Tim McMullen drew high praise from everyone involved for their support of an idea that "turned out beautiful," according to Jane Harkaway of Marley Glen.
"I was a little leery at first as to how the kids would be accepted, but they got total respect from everyone," said Harkaway, a phys ed teacher at Marley Glen. "The kids got standing ovations, and the boys team from Broadneck came out and shook the hands of the Special Olympians. It was just a fantastic event and I'm glad we did it."
Besides White and Harkaway, one other coach who played a prominent role in organizing the Special Olympians was Bruce Sponsler of Ruth Eason.
Sponsler is also the girls soccer coach at Old Mill.
Don't you agree with me, that we need more of that kind of event around the county?