Owens: My veto of personnel bill was necessaryYour...


April 11, 1999

Owens: My veto of personnel bill was necessary

Your editorial "Override Owens veto" (March 31) missed the real reason I vetoed the personnel summary bill.

Vetoing the bill was a technical necessity because the Anne Arundel County Council could not legally reconsider its action.

At the time of the veto, I had already agreed to provide the council with personnel summary information when I present my fiscal year 2000 budget.

I also agreed to provide council members with regular personnel updates as was the practice prior to 1996.

The veto was not the result of an attempt to avoid full disclosure of staffing levels and pay.

To suggest otherwise is to have missed one of the central themes of my campaign and a guiding principal of my administration.

Janet S. Owens, Annapolis

The writer is Anne Arundel County executive.

Another public pool needed

My family and I recently moved here from Maine.

We appreciate what Maryland has to offer: jobs, advanced educational opportunities and proximity to wonderful cultural amenities.

However, there is one issue in particular about which I have decided to write in hopes that other Maryland residents, particularly those in Anne Arundel County where we have chosen to live, will also write in support of my objective.

The only year-round pool in Anne Arundel County, which is designed for lap swimmers and recreational purposes, is in Annapolis at the Anne Arundel Olympic Swim Center.

However, this pool is not ideal.

It is filled to capacity, the locker room is often full of noisy children and events such as birthday parties cannot be scheduled for months because the calendar is full.

The pool itself is beautiful but is closing for as long as the entire month of August for maintenance, leaving the center's swimmers without a pool.

I am aware of several outdoor pools but many have waiting lists and are expensive.

For instance, the Means Marina Pool here in Annapolis costs $750 for just me to join.

The outdoor pools are also designed for recreation, not laps.

I am aware of a pool in Severna Park which used to be a YMCA and a pool at a Nautilus club in Severna Park.

I have found that both were crowded and were not very clean.

I would like to see the politicians of Anne Arundel County allot money for a swimming center to be built complete with locker rooms for adults, saunas and activities for children of all ages, including teens.

Perhaps a health club with the above amenities will help folks here be and feel healthier.

It is difficult to put a price tag on the value of such a place but I believe a health center would improve the quality of life for Maryland residents in Anne Arundel County.

Elizabeth Handy, Annapolis

My child missed MSPAP, so how could he score?

Several weeks ago, I was surprised to receive Maryland School Performance Assessment Program individual student reports showing how my four children did on the MSPAP test given in May 1997. Three of my children brought home results which had blank spaces in each of the six assessment areas. This was appropriate.

The student report stated that it "indicate(d) no score due to accommodation or absence."

I had exercised my parental rights during that particular week and had removed all four of my children from school because I do not support MSPAP.

However, my surprise came when I opened my fourth child's report. He too had not been in school that week because of my opposition to MSPAP. However, in four of the six assessment areas, his student report gave him scores. He was not in school for the entire week and never took the MSPAP test that year, but came home with MSPAP results.

The implications of this are many. For him to have received a test score means he would have been counted as present for the test. If he was counted present, then the school's attendance report card would be erroneous.

I would like to think I am the only parent in Maryland whose child this has happened to, but I am not naive. Whether this was a human error or a computer glitch is not important to me. Whether this error was made in my child's school or at the county level or the state level isn't important either. What is important is the fact that I am probably not the only parent in Maryland who is holding inaccurate and false MSPAP scores for his child.

The implications are serious. Thousands of dollars are passed to the schools from the state based on improvements in MSPAP. Schools gain or lose prestige based on their report card scores. Teachers are retrained, curriculum revamped and schools restructured based on MSPAP and these scores are assumed to be valid.

As of this writing, no one at the Anne Arundel County Board of Education has been able to give me any explanation for the error.

Judi Nowottnick, Odenton

The writer is a past PTA president at Waugh Chapel Elementary School in Odenton.

Pub Date: 4/11/99

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