Letters to the Editor


October 05, 2003

Why 12th high school is set for Mount View

For the benefit of the readers of this paper, we would like to restate the facts surrounding the selection of the Mount View site for the 12th high school:

During the past three years, many sites were given serious consideration for the 12th high school. Of those reviewed, Mount View was the most attractive option due to topography, availability of public water, and due to being the closest available site to the northern and eastern areas of high school overcrowding.

There were no available sites large enough with the appropriate topography in the northeast.

Had a site been found in the northeast, it would have cost between $5 million and $20 million.

With the additional acreage recently acquired, the Mount View site will be the third largest high school site in the county.

The 2005 opening date is critical to allow relief for significant high school overcrowding at Mt. Hebron, Howard, Centennial, and River Hill high schools. A delay of even one or two years in the opening of the 12th high school would produce unacceptable levels of overcrowding at multiple schools.

School board and education department officials have made every effort to work with the neighbors of the Mount View site to allay their concerns and will continue to do so. Most important, the board's focus is on relieving the high school overcrowding in 2005.

Sandra French

Ellicott City

Chairman and members of the Board of Education

A civics lesson for Howard youth

The Howard County Board of Education and the Howard County School System continue to push for the 12th high school and the Citizens for Adequate School Facilities (CASF) continues to try to present their legitimate claims to save taxpayers money and to avoid the serious problems that will result from putting too large a school on too small a site.

Within this interaction, we need to consider what the school system is teaching its students by their own example. There are indeed lessons to be learned from this long stand-off. Let's look at a few of them. Children, pay attention!

If you want to get your project or idea approved, be sure to make political allegiances to support your decisions before any of the facts or testimony are available.

When you do hear testimony, facts and evidence that do not agree with your position, be sure to discredit those who are presenting that evidence. A sure-fire way to do that is to assert NIMBYing. Stereotypes are always useful.

We all know that people who might live in the neighborhood have no real knowledge of the facts and evidence and that all they want is to avoid a high school in their back yards.

If your opposition's arguments or attempts to negotiate begin to make sense to anyone on your staff, make sure the opposition cannot meet with that person again.

Be sure to put social pressure on anyone in your group who does not quite agree with your position. The illusion of unanimity is critical to your position.

Never establish a contingency plan.

Be selective in gathering your information. All data must support your position.

From the beginning of the 12th high school process to its current state, it is a prime example of Groupthink. Don't let the facts get in the way. Don't consider alternatives like those presented to the BOE.

Stick firmly to your original decision and discredit those folks who want to save taxpayers money, who want a safer high school with easy access to major, busy roads, who want to protect the environment, and who want students to be able to have sports practice sessions at their high school and not at some off-site facility.

Class dismissed (for now)!

Dr. M. Linda Martinak


CA leaders fear making budget cuts

Part of the Sept. 25 CA Board of Directors/Council meeting dealt with possible ways to diminish the pain to CA property owners of paying the huge raise in their assessment fees.

[CA Vice President] Rafia Siddiqui presented six possible scenarios, but they all required the acceptance of the assumption that CA expenditures would not be reduced. Not once did Ms. Siddiqui, [Columbia Council Chairman Miles Coffman] or any of his "groupies" suggest the elimination of any programs.

Many are worthy but not appropriate expenditures for CA, such as the Sister Cities' international travel program (not relevant to a property owner's association and better served by experienced teen-age travel organizations), the Before-and-After School program and the Summer Camp program (provided by the County to all its residents), the Volunteer Program Serving Howard County (which should not be a CA program but the responsibility of County organizations).

Not once did Mr. Coffman mention better management of programs and a review of senior salary scales as means of reducing expenses.

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