Regional leaders' goals for 1998 We asked government executives in the Baltimore area to outline their key goals for this year, emphasizing those that involve regionalism. Here's what they wrote.


Violence curbs, adult involvement in schools sought

I have set three goals for 1998:

* Reduce the level of youth violence.

* Dramatically increase the number of people involved in parent-teacher organizations, particularly in our high schools.

* Reinvigorate high school alumni associations.

These goals are interrelated. Strengthening PTOs and high school alumni associations can benefit our schools academically through the extra assistance and resources these groups can provide. Additionally, linking caring adults more closely and visibly with our schools can foster a greater sense of safety and security in the schools.

Crime is down in Baltimore overall, and that clearly is an encouraging sign. But the number of homicides is still unacceptably high - 310 last year. To break this horrible pattern of killing, we must focus on our youth. Recent crime statistics underscore the wisdom of this approach. Of the homicides in Baltimore last year, 63.6 percent of the suspects and 45.6 percent of the victims were 24 or younger.

A broad partnership of law-enforcement agencies, including those from nearby jurisdictions, is crafting a comprehensive citywide strategy designed to reduce the staggering homicide rate among young people in Baltimore. Recently, the city Police Department announced the creation of a Youth Violence Strike Force as a key part of this strategy.

Expanding our Police Athletic League centers, implementing the action plan for children and youth developed through the Safe and Sound campaign, and supporting the Child First Authority's after-school programs are also vital components of our efforts to stem the tide of youth violence.

Among the ideas we're considering to boost adult involvement in schools is to partner city agencies with high schools to provide assistance with such basic but necessary tasks as handling mailings for PTO meetings or helping with publicity; providing incentives for city employees to volunteer at their children's schools or their high school alma maters; and sponsoring a high school alumni day at the Baltimore Convention Center to bring current students and alumni together to discuss specific school improvement projects. Already, I've asked our citizens to donate musical instruments they are no longer using to local schools.

In all these efforts, city government will take the lead.

The 1998 agenda reflects this administration's commitment to the priorities established at the start of my term - education, public safety, creating and retaining jobs and preserving older neighborhoods.

On education, we are now working in Annapolis to support the state's most recent plan to direct new resources to at-risk students - a plan that should help continue progress on Maryland School Performance Assessment Program test scores.

We are also working in Annapolis to secure $32 million for the coming budget year to fund school construction and major maintenance projects.

We have added more than 5,000 seats to the system since 1995. With the enrollment boom apparently leveling off, we expect to invest more in maintenance.

Also, we are seeking state support to expand our network of Police Athletic League centers. With expansion, we expect to have two new centers (for a total of eight), providing some 3,000 youths with a safe place to do homework, play and interact with adult role models.

We will continue our focus on preventing crime in business corridors as the Business Patrol Initiative becomes fully operational with 40 new officers next month. These officers do not respond to 911 calls. They stick to their beats in seven commercial corridors, often getting out of their cars to talk with business owners.

We expect 1998 to be a very positive year in regional economic development with the growing strength of the Greater Baltimore Alliance, a group that is dedicated to promoting the strengths of the Baltimore region.

In terms of infrastructure, we expect to have completed more than 200 alley reconstruction projects during the four-year period ending in December. In addition, 600 miles, or one-fourth of all county roads, will have been repaved by that time.

We are seeking state support for several neighborhood revitalization projects. They include street-scapes for portions of Liberty Road, Loch Raven Boulevard and Reisterstown Road. We recently received Gov. Parris N. Glendening's support for a new community center for Catonsville.

These recent initiatives follow completion of several neighborhood projects that have benefited a variety of older communities.

Teamwork has been the hallmark of our success. Working closely with our partners - including the County Council and our representatives in Annapolis - teamwork will carry us forward in 1998 as we strive to keep Baltimore County the best place to live, work and raise a family.

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