Another schoolyard brawl Anne Arundel County: Fight over who will pay for teachers is symptom of deeper split.

November 13, 1996

ALTHOUGH Anne Arundel County Executive John G. Gary pledged otherwise after taking office, confrontation continues to define his relationship with the county Board of Education.

The current dispute is over who will pay for teachers needed this year. Alas, while Mr. Gary and the board engage in bureaucratic sniping, children in crowded classrooms are not getting the attention they deserve.

In the latest round, Mr. Gary has submitted legislation that would use surplus money in the education budget to pay for 20 extra teachers. The cost of the extra staff is estimated at about $588,000. Mr. Gary rejected the school board's offer to pay for 11 teachers and have the county pick up the cost of the remaining nine positions.

This fight is bigger than a handful of instructors, however. Mr. Gary wants to ensure that if extra teachers are hired, the cost won't be added to the county's "maintenance of effort" level, the minimum support required for the county to qualify for certain state aid.

To his credit, Mr. Gary last spring submitted a $424.5 million education budget that was about $500,000 more than the state required. But he now wants to unilaterally rewrite the rules on maintenance of effort. Putting ample teachers in the classroom would seem to constitute the minimum effort.

Staffing may look sufficient countywide, but some elementaries have more than 40 pupils to a class. A teacher in those circumstances cannot hope to give young students the attention they deserve and require. When parents complain to the school board about crowded classrooms and inadequate staffing, board members now point a finger at the executive.

Memo to Sandy Point deer: Duck

Contrary to an editorial in this space yesterday, the Department of Natural Resources has agreed to a bow hunt for deer at Sandy Point State Park, beginning today.

To its credit, the department abandoned the youth hunt it had earlier proposed. Also, it is confining the hunt to weekdays to reduce conflicts with the park's recreational users. But evidence for the necessity of this hunt, based on comments of nearby residents, is still not convincing.

Pub Date: 11/13/96

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