Who is paying the real price in school frayDisagreements...

LETTERS

August 09, 1998

Who is paying the real price in school fray

Disagreements between the Anne Arundel school board and county government are the stuff of media headlines. From accusations of mismanagement to "teaching on the cheap," everyone wants to place blame on the other guy. In the meantime, students and their parents bear the brunt of these disagreements. The acrimony of this situation does not lead to effective schools.

Our children and our schools cannot afford to continue as props in this three-ring circus. The county executive, County Council and school board need to stop this repeated skirmish over who can rule the classroom.

While they are waging war, children are not getting the textbooks and teachers they need to improve reading, writing and math skills. Schools with outdated light fixtures and asbestos ceiling tiles (such as Severna Park Middle) are not getting proper maintenance. Past mistakes, such as the open classrooms at Folger McKinsey and Broadneck elementaries, are not being corrected.

The county executive and council need to accept that they cannot dictate specifics to the school system, but rather can influence the school board by providing incentives for accountability.

On the other hand, the Board of Education needs to get smarter about spending money. It needs to set priorities to get the job done with the resources available. If those resources are inadequate, specifically explain the reasons. I am sure the people of Anne Arundel County would support the schools.

Mary P. Marsh

Arnold

Impressive coverage of memorial's opening

Having witnessed the World War II Memorial dedication ceremony in Annapolis, I was impressed by the caliber of the write-up by Kirsten Scharnberg ("Memorial dedication a time to remember," July 24).

Here was a sensitive article written by a member of The Sun staff who probably was not even alive during World War II. Yet she has been able to convey the sentiments of the veterans of that 50-plus year-old conflict.

Reading the first couple of paragraphs I thought it was a contrived story until William Donald Schaefer was revealed as the lone veteran viewing the memorial in the early morning. Ms. Scharnberg has transcended politics and shown a side of former Governor Schaefer seldom revealed.

The common bond that units us World War II veterans was evident in this article.

It's nice that a Sun staff writer can convey the feelings of the veterans instead of just matter-of-fact reportage of the day's events.

Although I am a veteran from New York state, I've been a Maryland resident for 50 years.

I want to extend my thanks to Mr. Schaefer for his role in bringing this memorial to reality.

Bud Johnson

Severna Park

Neall tried to make his job look tougher

Robert Neall, recently told the Severna Park Elephant Club that there was no budget surplus when he became county executive in December 1990. He tried to make it look like Anne Arundel County was in worse shape than it was when he took office. He said, "Check it out." I did.

The actual general fund balance reported for June 30, 1990 was $52.7 million. On June 30, 1991, there was still a balance of $10.4 million. There was also $55.8 million in contributed capital from the water and wastewater accounts in June 1990 and $61.7 million in those accounts on June 30, 1991.

As for his role in fixing the recently enacted state pension plan, do you also take credit for the error that left many eligible teachers out of the new plan?

Marc Wirig

Severna Park

The writer is a former deputy personnel director for Anne Arundel County.

Executive is dabbling in the wrong places

As a resident of Anne Arundel County, what our county government is doing to our school system is very disturbing. Since when has our county executive and County Council had the responsibility of telling the school board how and what to fund? Since when have they assumed the responsibility of the education of our youth?

What a great position for our elected officials: They fund the system, then tell the school board how to spend the money, but the responsibility of the success and failure of the system becomes the board's.

Our elected officials can't have it both ways. We must encourage them to fulfill their responsibility to fund the system and then allow those professionals, who have been appointed through the Nominating Convention, to do their jobs of deciding how to use the money to make the system work.

Jan Erskine

Annapolis

Evans: Why I withdrew school funding measure

There is more than $5.8 million in Anne Arundel County coffers that can and should be used to fund our schools and our children's education. Like the students and parents of Anne Arundel, I, too, want the money intended for our schools to be spent for the direct benefit of students. But if the money isn't transferred from the Chief Administrative Officer's contingency account to the children and programs they need, there's no hope of that happening. This is why I introduced the education funding resolution several weeks ago.

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