School consolidation could stop bankruptcy of Allegany...


February 21, 2000

School consolidation could stop bankruptcy of Allegany schools

We would like to provide additional information to clarify the need to reconfigure schools in Allegany County ("Allegany's money woes put pressure on small schools," Feb. 11).

County schools lacking Title I federal benefits have no reading specialists. Our county's gifted and talented program has an annual budget of $28,438. After salary and mileage funding, only $1,979 goes toward program support.

Teachers' allotment for classroom materials this year was 72 cents per student.

Removing teaching assistants from kindergarten classrooms has resulted in a classroom ratio of 22-1, far below the state guideline of 12-1.

Programs at our outlying K-12 schools have been stripped. Children at one middle school have reading only half the year, high schools have no music or art programs and one school has no math teacher.

Inequities within our system abound. At the county's largest high school, with 833 students, 129 courses are offered over four years. Our smallest high school, with 31 students, offers 41 courses.

These numbers reflect some of the poor decisions made to maintain the status quo.

And, should we not now reconfigure our system, it will likely fall into bankruptcy within two years. It would then cost state taxpayers a substantial sum to rescue a system in collapse.

Alternatively, consolidation of schools could save $1 million to $2 million annually, providing solvency and affording the opportunity to invest in our classrooms, which have been long and woefully neglected.

Erin Geatz DeLong, Kimi-Scott McGreevy, Cumberland

The writers represent Education First, a group supporting equity in education in Allegany County.

`Prevailing wage' does raise school construction costs

The Sun's editorial on Gov. Parris N. Glendening's proposal to apply the prevailing wage law to school construction was on the money ("Adding extra costs to school construction," Feb. 15).

In addition to those the editorial noted, another way such a law would increase construction costs is that only journeymen, laborers and apprentices are allowed to work on "prevailing wage" jobs. Helpers are excluded.

On construction jobs, much work can be done by helpers. They're not as skilled as journeymen, and are paid accordingly.

Under prevailing wage rules, a contractor must lay off his helpers and have journeymen do work beneath their ability or pay helpers journeymen wages.

Either choice is inefficient and raises the cost of construction.

Robert H. Kittleman


The writer is minority leader of the Maryland House of Delegates, where he represents Howard County.

The governor is right to fight skin cancer . . .

Gov. Parris N. Glendening's plan to spend a portion of the state's tobacco settlement funds on cancer prevention education programs could make a positive impact on the lives of Marylanders.

But it appears that Del. Howard P. Rawlings is unaware Maryland has the fifth-highest cancer rate in the country ("Tobacco agreement draws fire," Feb. 14).

Mr. Rawlings minimizes the gravity of malignant melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. This disease will strike about 800 Marylanders this year.

Melanoma is primarily caused by excessive exposure to the ultraviolet rays of the sun, and is thus the most preventable type of cancer.

Education programs targeting youth are a powerful weapon in eliminating this serious disease.

And, yes, Mr. Rawlings: Giving sunscreen to everyone in Ocean City would be a great idea.

Roberta M. Herbst


The writer is project coordinator for the coalition for Skin Cancer Prevention in Maryland.

. . . but taping nursing homes would be much too intrusive

I was amused that Del. Sue Hecht has proposed legislation regarding requiring nursing homes have a surveillance cameras in patients' rooms as a safeguard against abuse ("Legislator wants cameras in nursing home rooms," Feb. 12).

This was apparently inspired because she heard an attendant yell at a patient.

But a camera would not record vocal incidents. And can you imagine your most private moments being recorded?

Having an itch you can't scratch. Using a bedpan and being cleaned up afterward. Being bathed.

It's an amusing idea -- as long as it is you being recorded, not me.

Sarah M. Hawkins


TV characters aren't the best role models

I was a huge fan of "Homicide," and was particularly dismayed when NBC finally canceled the show. Scenes of Frank Pembleton (Andre Braugher) "in the box" were among the most riveting television I've ever witnessed.

Nevertheless, I find it disconcerting to find fault with killing off the role model character of Lt. Al Giardello ("Homicide kills off its role model," Feb. 14).

Have we no better estimation of ourselves than to measure our lives against fictional characters on television?

It seems to me we've sold ourselves way short by looking there instead of at real role models for our inspiration.

Al Giardello was a great character who died on a great and now defunct TV show.

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