New high school is best investment of county's funds My...

LETTERS

April 08, 2001

New high school is best investment of county's funds

My three children were among the sign-toting, balloon-carrying throngs at the Howard County Executive's March 12 public hearing ("Robey hears budget pleas," March 13).

It was American government in action; a social studies class they will likely remember.

They came away knowing their message was heard and their position validated by the sheer numbers of those supporting a 12th Howard County high school.

The children at the hearing knew they were representing others -- 859 at the most conservative estimate -- who will have no seat in Howard County high schools as early as 2004.

The 12th high school can be justified purely by those numbers. But we cannot ignore the emotional core of the issue, which is why the crowd of children at the hearing was so effective.

Their presence spoke to all of us about the need to make children a priority for the betterment of our county, nation and world.

I challenge anyone to argue that there's a better investment for our time or money.

Janet F. Gilbert

Woodstock

As my husband and I searched the Baltimore area for housing when I was transferred here two years ago, we had one thing on our minds: Where would we find the best public education for our children (now 5- and 8-years old)?

We quickly found that Howard County was the place to look and we have been very happy with our choice to move to Elkridge.

As we have learned about the school enrollment projections, we quickly became involved in the issue of assuring that our children will have adequate facilities for a good public education. And, yes, we were one of those balloon-carrying families at the county executive's March 12 hearing.

Our daughter is in the second-grade at Elkridge Elementary. The administrators know her by name and she has developed strong relationships with all her teachers. That is something we all expect at the elementary level.

I have memories of that same relationship with my teachers and administrators when I was in high school and I hope my children have the same.

But that does not happen without effort. The whole community must support a strong educational system.

While I understand that this may not be a direct concern of the large percentage of Howard County residents without children in the school system, we all are affected by the quality of that system in one way or other -- by the graduates who fill job openings in county businesses; by children who become responsible taxpayers rather than tax-users; and through schools' impact on youth violence.

We must all recognize that the growth and development we have seen recently comes with a price -- not only for roads, police and fire support, but also for appropriate education for our children.

Howard County attracts families and businesses with the promise that it will be excellent.

We must request our public officials keep up their end of the bargain by not letting the system falter as the demands on it increase.

Christine D. Heinrich

Elkridge

Russell, Januszkiewicz make the council work

Amid accusations of turmoil and bickering, the current Columbia Council has in fact had several important accomplishments. And two current council members, in particular, have spurred the council to act in a more responsible and effective manner.

The council's decision not to annex the Key property was the correct decision and reflected the wishes of an overwhelming majority of residents.

Barbara Russell's role in rejecting the annexation was particularly noteworthy. She took the initiative in opposing annexation and exhibited outstanding leadership throughout the process.

The "truth and taxation" issue was another major success of the council, which decided to maintain the assessment cap of 75 cents per $1 of property assessment.

The integrity of the assessment cap was protected only through the hard work and perseverance of several councilpersons, but particularly Ms. Russell. She sought and obtained an attorney general's opinion that protected Columbia lien-payers from unnecessary and potentially costly assessment increases.

The Columbia Council has also recently decided to provide individual council members and the public access to more information in a timely manner. Two council members, Ms. Russell and Cecilia Januszkiewicz, pushed for the public's right to be informed.

They exhibited a genuine stewardship of community interests, a deep knowledge of Columbia affairs, fortitude in pursuing the interests of Columbia residents and personal courage in enduring attacks from vested interests and some council members.

Vince Marando

Columbia

The writer represents Wilde Lake on the Columbia Council.

Research is the key to casting the right vote

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