Take the high roadThe course of serviceto the courtsshould...

LETTERS

March 24, 1996

Take the high road

The course of service

to the courts

should be one of

uncompromising integrity

political pursuits

should not be allowed

to hold a higher value

than truth

ethical behavior

must not be abandoned

for personal gain

judicial service

should protect the

foundation of our

freedom

how can you judge

another man's behavior

if you do not follow

' the high road yourself?

Donna Cappo

Columbia

Columbia is in better fiscal shape than ever

After reading your March 8 editorial ("Valid questions about health club"), I want to assure you that the Columbia Association Board of Directors/Columbia Council is, and always has been, very concerned about debt.

That is why policies adopted by the board/council over the last 16 years have resulted in a decrease in CA's debt-to-income ratio, a decrease in annual interest as a percent of revenue, the elimination of the accumulated deficit by fiscal year 2000 and a financial plan in which CA's total debt will be reduced from $90 million to $76 million in the next five years and to less than $50 million within the next 10 years.

It is precisely because of its prudent planning and fiscal accomplishments that the Columbia Association was recently awarded an A-plus rating in the financial markets. I am happy to report that CA today is fiscally stronger than it has ever been.

Padraic M. Kennedy

Columbia

The writer is president of the Columbia Association.

Teens need a place to mingle, too

Hope Miller Sachwald, the Columbia Council representative from Harper's Choice, is incorrect in assuming I have any misconceptions about the Sports Park that is being planned for Harper's Choice village (Feb. 18, letter to the editor). In my Feb. 4 letter, I suggested that the Columbia Association provide a place for teen-agers to go at night, as part of the new Sports Park. I never said that providing a place for teen-agers should be part of any CA program that already exists. There are a lot of places for adults to go to talk and eat that feature live entertainment. It seems only fair that teen-agers have a place to go where they can do the same thing.

If the Sports Park is supposed to revitalize Harper's Choice Village Center, the seasonal activities, such as miniature golf and an outdoor ice rink, may not be enough. If the Sports Park included a place for teen-agers to meet and a place to play video games, it would encourage people to use the center all year. In my letter, I stated that I thought this new facility should not be included in Package Plan, but operated on a fee basis with Columbia residents paying less. This would provide access to the facility for Columbia residents who cannot afford to join Package Plan.

Laura Waters

Columbia

Suspensions not a measure of poor school

In your report on the 90-minute workshop the Howard County school board held on school suspensions ("School suspensions questioned," March 15), you reported that I recommended that the board target those schools and teachers with the worst suspension problems with effective programs. I would like to clarify the comments a little.

I did recommend that we target schools with the biggest problems with resources. I did not say teachers. However, I did say that the students who participated in the discussions mentioned that some teachers have virtually no problems with students where others do. A transfer of those skills from the former group to the latter may be beneficial.

Let's first understand that the "problem" is at the margin: 96.7 percent of the Howard County students do not get suspended. We are only addressing 3.3 percent of the population. Only Montgomery County has a lower rate than Howard in Maryland.

Howard County prides itself in its diversity. But the county schools are not homogeneous. Schools will reflect their feeder neighborhoods. A neighborhood that turns over more frequently, an example, will have greater potential for problems because of the normal adjustments students have entering a new school. Other neighborhoods may have a different reason for some problems.

By focusing on those schools with higher suspension rates, we may be able to provide teachers, administrators, parents and students with better tools for handling that mix of students. Remember, a school with a higher suspension rate may be one of the best schools in the county. The skills of the teachers and administrators may be higher, a greater diversity of children may be evident. However, helping teachers and administrators, parents and students to develop alternate ways for handling difficult interactions may significantly help the teacher and the student. And once trained, teachers, administrators, students and parents can pass this on to newer members.

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