Baltimore County school budgetI was upset by your...

the Forum

March 30, 1995

Baltimore County school budget

I was upset by your editorial position (March 7) with regard to the budget proposal the Baltimore County Board of Education submitted to the county executive last week.

The editorial reads as if the members of the Board of Education had in no way deliberated about the budget and that the county executive is simply a victim of an unfair political process.

First of all, the Board of Education deliberated at length about the budget. Numerous priorities were changed from the staff's original recommended budget.

The most significant change is that money was shifted from numerous accounts, including administration and magnet schools, to provide for an increase of 59 teachers and 100 instructional assistants beyond what the Superintendent's budget had requested.

More important, however, was the board's discussion about the use of the budget as a planning device and its direction that a five-year plan be developed . . .

Moreover, your editorial nowhere mentions the significant growth student enrollment, deteriorating facilities or the number of jurisdictions which put a far greater percentage of the budget into education than Baltimore County.

You suggested that the School Board has placed the county executive in a difficult position. He is an elected official who clearly understood when he sought the job that he would have to make numerous difficult decisions, his recommended budget to the Council notably being one of them.

Furthermore, the executive must set priorities, and there is no question that he has the power to realign resources in order to fund this budget request fully.

(It is interesting that you lament the potential negative reaction of the citizens to an anticipated reduction in the school budget. Would that assumption lead one to believe that there is strong public support for the education budget?)

You seem to have readily accepted the county's revenue projections. Just a few days after taking office, the executive indicated a significant shortfall but a surplus is anticipated, based, of course, on errors made by the state.

Since the county is the ultimate fiscal authority, it would be beneficial to all concerned if revenues could be projected more accurately.

Getting the county to adequately fund education has always been an uphill struggle. In fact, the county executive currently supports a bill that would eliminate a maintenance of effort provision in the state funding law.

This elimination would allow the county executive to reduce the total education budget and to channel other state aid meant for education into the general fund.

Fair and accurate journalism calls for The Evening Sun to explore all sides of the issue instead of just criticizing the school system and blindly supporting the county's ideas of "fiscal reality."

Leonard Averbach


Kenwood crisis reveals lack of communication

I'm a junior at Kenwood High School. Everyone has heard about what has happened at our school ("Kenwood shake-up under way," March 23).

Many things in your article were one sided. A lot of feelings were hurt when the only good things mentioned were the I.B. and Sports Academy. What about the marching band and concert band? There is also a very good drama group, ROTC, student government, chorus and many other programs.

I felt that we were severely misjudged in the article.

Our school is in an economically depressed community, but that does not mean our abilities are substandard.

The attendance problem starts at home, not at school. The poor test scores build on tests that you begin preparing for in middle school.

If you're not given the proper help in the beginning of your education, how can you be expected to pass a test that you had only a few months to prepare for?

Principal Frederick Cogswell needs to leave his office and actually listen to the needs of students and teachers.

needs to walk down the halls of Kenwood, and he needs to work harder to prevent an uproar like this from happening again. There were measures that he could have taken to soften the blow.

But people also need to see where he's coming from. Some teachers could try harder. But that doesn't mean all teachers should be punished.

We all want to make a difference in this situation. But we need to listen to the needs and wants of others before jumping to a solution.

ebecca Warwick


Legal limit

I am writing to thank Del. Donald E. Murphy for his support of House Bill 1024, which makes a blood-alcohol level of 0.1 percent proof of drunk driving.

Delegate Murphy, a Republican from Baltimore County, voted against this bill in committee because he was unsure about the machines used to test drivers.

However, he then decided to learn more about the machine by having himself tested after drinking four beers in an hour.

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