Multi-Millions Gone on a Whim?A Sept. 12 article entitled...

LETTERS TO THE EDITORS

October 09, 1994

Multi-Millions Gone on a Whim?

A Sept. 12 article entitled "Development Waivers Become Heated Issue" failed to include all of the information one would need to formulate an opinion on this controversial issue.

A major misconception is that the state school capacity used in Anne Arundel County's adequate facilities law is somehow "chiseled in stone." Actually, the law gives the Anne Arundel County Board of Education the authority to exceed the rated capacity. Further, the law gives the director of planning and code enforcement the ultimate authority to, after evaluating all factors, make the decision as to whether a subdivision meets the intent of the law.

In criticizing the county administration, board staffers cited the approval of a 52-lot subdivision known as Eagles Passages, as being the cause of overcrowding at Davidsonville Elementary. This project, which will generate 23 elementary students, was granted a waiver in May 1993. At that time, the state-rated capacity of Davidsonville Elementary was 450 and was housing 434 students. The board's own statistics indicated enrollment in this school had peaked and would continue to decline until about the year 2000.

So how did they come up with Davidsonville Elementary being 140 percent of capacity? Very simply, the Maryland Board of Education changed the rules.

In 1991, Davidsonville Elementary had a rated capacity of 510 students. By September 1993, the rating had declined to 450, and in October 1993 was further reduced to 354 students -- a decline of 156 seats since 1991 and 96 seats from a month earlier.

The change in rating school capacity resulted in the loss of approximately 7,000 elementary seats in Anne Arundel County. The cost of construction for a single elementary seat is approximately $15,000 so this means this change will cost the taxpayers of Anne Arundel County approximately $105,000,000 to replace these seats.

An inquiry to state Superintendent of Schools Dr. Nancy Grasmick disclosed that no empirical studies were conducted at either the state or county levels before revising the capacity formula. Instead, they relied on a.) a survey reported in Educator Week (1989), b.) an article in The Sun (March 1988) and c.) the Digest of Educational Statistics (1989). I don't know about anyone else, but I believe more study should have been undertaken before implementing a decision which is costing the taxpayers $105 million.

Robert J. Dvorak

Annapolis

The writer is acting director of Planning and Code Enforcement for Anne Arundel County.

Sheriff's Shortfalls

I wish to try and answer the question raised by the undersheriff in his letter of Sept. 25 in which he asks why are we always belittling the work of the Anne Arundel County sheriff's office. . . .

The sheriff has been fighting with the county executive and the County Council for four years leading everyone to believe he was beholden to no one. He has repeatedly lived beyond his budget while in office. In fiscal year 1991, he had a $71,000 deficit. In fiscal year 1992, he had a $16,600 deficit even after the council gave him an extra $129,820 to balance the books. In fiscal year 1994, there was a $33,500 budget deficit again after the council poured in an extra $83,000. Considering that that office only has 39 authorized positions, isn't that excessive?

John Miara

Pasadena

Five Against One

In her Sept. 25 column regarding the District 31 House of Delegates race, Elise Armacost wrote that I have "no volunteers." This is not true, as I have a number of hard-working volunteers who help with a wide variety of campaign tasks, including phone-calling and yard sign location identification.

The District 31 contest is not "Four Against One," as the column headline suggested. It is five against one, the fifth opponent being the bias and intellectual dishonesty of the Baltimore Sun. This opponent is more pernicious than the other four.

ohn R. Leopold

Pasadena

The writer is a candidate for the Maryland House of Delegates in District 31.

Rose for Senate

I am a veteran of the Vietnam War, the recipient of the Silver Star, a combat disabled veteran who lost both legs in service to our country. I live in District 30 and wish to express my views regarding the upcoming election of our state senator.

Although a life-long Democrat, I am endorsing Republican Mary Rose for Senate. Mary Rose has a long and impressive record of protecting veterans programs and services since her days in the Reagan administration. I know. I was there representing disabled veterans.

In addition to her pro-veteran, pro-military credentials, Mary Rose's economic platform of fiscal reform is just what this state needs to lift it out of the doldrums we have been experiencing. . . .

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