Costly SettlementYour Sept. 7 article about the cost of...


September 20, 1994

Costly Settlement

Your Sept. 7 article about the cost of settlements for Maryland homebuyers was right on point on an issue that touches every current or prospective Maryland homeowner. Our extraordinarily high housing cost make it difficult to find decent, affordable housing.

Many studies have demonstrated that the American Dream of homeownership creates stability and pride in local communities. Realtors have long made it a priority objective to assist low- and moderate-income homebuyers in finding affordable housing.

We've done this on several fronts:

At the national level, we have fought for the vitality of the FHA program. We strongly support proposed legislation to raise the base and maximum loan limits for this program, which will open this lower cost alternative to homebuyers in expensive markets such as those in many areas of Maryland.

The Housing Reauthorization Bill now before the U.S. Senate provides this critical help. Sen. Paul Sarbanes, a longtime

advocate of affordable housing programs, has once again supported these changes to make FHA more accessible. We look forward to his continued support when the Senate reconvenes and takes up the issue.

For five years, the Maryland Association of Realtors has supported legislation to make semiannual property tax collection mandatory. We are one of only two states that require lump sum payment in advance of property taxes, a key reason we rank so high in closing costs.

Moving to a semiannual payment is estimated to reduce cash required at settlement by hundreds of dollars.

The General Assembly has passed legislation permitting counties to adopt semiannual payments, but to date, only Harford, Baltimore City and Frederick counties have done so. We are hopeful that more jurisdictions will follow suit.

Estimates of the increased surveying costs arising from the board's action vary, but even the low end ($500-$600) is more than half the savings homebuyers will realize under a semiannual tax provision.

We hope that the board will rethink its action. The additional costs from this regulation far exceed the alleged benefit, but the damage to real estate and homebuyers extends to anyone seeking to buy a home in Maryland.

-! We simply cannot afford that.

Mary A. Fruscello


The writer is executive vice president, Maryland Association of Realtors.

Parent Volunteers

While the Baltimore police take the ''high profile'' role of

hunting for hooky-playing students (The Sun, Sept. 9), don't play parent volunteers too cheap.

Consider Commodore John Rodgers Elementary School No. 27. Principal Willie Grier Jr. began his truancy program six years ago with the help of a grant from the Fund for Educational Excellence. Today his parent volunteers continue to keep the school's attendance rate above 95 percent, making the school one of the top 10 schools in attendance last year.

Consider Collington Square Elementary School No. 97, a participant in the Fund's Family and School Partnership program. Parent volunteers working closely with the principal and staff made last year's attendance jump to 94 percent from 89.4 percent the previous year.

Then there's Curtis Bay Elementary, and Park Heights Elementary, and Federal Hill Elementary, and on and on. So maybe it's not so much that these types of programs have quietly disappeared, but simply that the spotlight has quietly turned elsewhere.

Patrice T. Conwell


The writer is a public relations associate with the Fund for Educational Excellence.

Elzee Gladden

The death of Dr. Elzee Charles Gladden leaves an enormous void in the life of the Monumental City. His work in particular at the Paul Laurence Dunbar School transformed the lives of innumerable Poets in a remarkable manner.

In short, Dr. Gladden made winners of many youths who were programmed for failure through his incisive intellect, warm and engaging manner, unwavering love for children and youths and fidelity to demonstrable excellence. He was, to be sure, an educator's educator.

Dr. Gladden, too, during his tenure (1982-1992) as principal of Dunbar, his alma mater, transformed Dunbar from what was perceived by so many as an ''athletic factory'' into a center for serious learning and scholarship. Students were led through his avuncular, diplomatic and adroit teachings and example to believe that they could soar to the heights. A genuine and felicitous blend was established between academics and athletics.

Those who value the world of ideas and the power of education in the Baltimore public schools and in the larger community are diminished by Dr. Gladden's death. His untimely leaving evokes ''thoughts which do often lie too deep for tears.''

Samuel L. Banks


Apology Demanded

I am so weary of the mean-spirited cartoons of your KAL. I wonder if he dreams up these offerings at the direction of your editors.

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