From: Charles D. Schiavone
In dumping the developer, John Mardall, as the prospective countyadministrator, can we assume that Chuck Ecker is beginning to see the light?
The fact that Mr. Mardall still has projects within the county and there would be a conflict of interests seems obvious to us all.
What has not been said by Mr. Ecker is that Mr. Mardall has no experience as a public administrator, and he would come with bias, making it nearly impossible for him to learn the job.
Mr. Ecker has said that he chose Mr. Mardall because he wanted the county run like a business. Mr. Mardall, if he is a good businessman, would be the first to tell him that in business one finds the best person for the job that one can afford. Mr. Mardall would not hire a roofer to do the plumbing on his projects. He would hire a plumber with a proven track record.
Running a government should be no different.
The county administrator's position, second only to the county executive in importance, is a professional position requiring firm
knowledge and experience with the job.
Howard County should be conducting a nationwide search for the best possible candidate.
Or, if experiencewith the county is deemed important, we will find public employees within county government with the experience and the ability to do thejob.
No matter what course is chosen, the job of county administrator is too important to treat as a political plum to be given to thehomebuilders for their campaign contributions.
NO MONEY FOR DRIVER ED
From: Deborah Kendig
(This letter is a response to "Bring back driver's ed," a letter to the editor from I. DorisO'Neil, which appeared Sunday, March 31, in The Howard County Sun.)
Dear Ms. O'Neill:
Thank you for sending me a copy of the letter"Drivers' Education: A Victim Too," which you sent to the local newspapers.
The reality in 1991 and in the 1992 school year is that offiscal constraint.
Originally, the board eliminated drivers' education because of budget cutbacks.
This year the budget cuts are more than three times those of fiscal year 1987. They may, in fact, be four or five times as large.
There is no administrative infrastructure to start the program up again. We cannot afford to put one in place. The board reduced the administrative category by 16 percent and about 16 positions.
There is no longer an available fleet of automobiles.
One of the reasons for eliminating the program in 1987 wasthe difficulty the school system was having in maintaining a fleet of drivers' ed cars.
Local dealers were no longer able to keep up with the program's needs.
In fiscal year 1992, there will be no money to invest in a fleet of automobiles.
There will be no money to spend on hiring an administrator to start up the program.
There will be no money to spend on hiring instructors or paraprofessionals.
Even if the decision were made to initiate a pay-as-you-go program,there will be no money for the start-up costs.
We cannot use scarce public resources to start a business.
If the private providers of drivers' education are not meeting the needs and/or expectations of their customers, those dissatisfied citizens ought to be pressuringthose businesses to provide the service for what they are paying.
If that doesn't work, then people ought to be pressuring the State of Maryland for an accreditation process which will guarantee them theservices.
As fiscal resources shrink, the duplication of servicesbecomes a burden on public providers and taxpayers.
No matter howdesirable drivers' education is, in a public school context it must be a lesser priority than academic preparations.
I would add that the 70 positions eliminated were important, that the middle school gifted and talented program is important, that additional staffing for a seven-period day is important, that the after-school fine arts programs are important, and that building maintenance is important.
Intough fiscal times, priorities have to be set and difficult choices made.
Public schools are no longer able to provide programs available elsewhere in the private sector.
This is not the message you want to hear.
I am sorry.
You provided excellent service as a drivers' ed paraprofessional. For that, all are grateful.
I would add that it is the responsibility of every parent of every student driver to test, to tutor and to make sure that young person is a qualified driver before that parent allows the student to take the keys to the car.
The ultimate and final teacher is the parent.
Editor's Note: The writer is chairman of the Howard County School Board.
Thefollowing are responses to the question: "Should the county's publicschools continue to include prayers at commencement ceremonies?"
CONTINUE THE PRAYERS
From: Marie J. Fay
Ray and Barbara Brookhart
Yes, prayers should continue at commencement.