Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

December 21, 2003

Town Center defends operation of Oakland

The Town Center Village Board would like to respond to the letter "Town center group runs Oakland poorly" (Dec. 14). The writer did not understand that after the merger of the Town Center Community Association with the management of the Oakland facility, the salaries of the Oakland staff were added to the salary line item of the existing Community Association staff, including the Village Manager and Covenant Advisor. Staff salaries did in fact decrease by $38,700.

Seventy-two percent of the room rentals during the Town Center Community Association's first year managing the facility were booked by Town Center's staff, and only 28 percent by Columbia Association staff. This contradicts the letter's statement that 80 percent of the rentals under Town Center's management were booked by Columbia Association staff.

The nature of the business requires advance booking of rental spaces. If the village association had not been able to generate 72 percent of the bookings for fiscal year 2003, there would have been a dramatic decrease in revenue.

The Town Center Community Association financial reports for fiscal year 2003 state that at the end of its first year of operating the Oakland facility, budgeted expenses were decreased by $59,000, with an actual net profit of $26,000. In the last fiscal year that the Oakland facility was managed by the Columbia Association its financial reports stated a year-end operating deficit of $17,000.

The Town Center Community Association receives an allocation from the Columbia Association along with the other nine villages - and Town Center's is the smallest of all ten villages. Managing the Oakland facility does not relieve the Community Association of its community service responsibilities to the residents of Columbia. The allocation supports those services as it has in prior years. It is obvious from the Community Association 2002 financial reports for the facility that rental income could not take on the community association portion of the budget.

It is fitting that Oakland, the home of James Rouse's first headquarters for the Columbia Project, is now a community center servicing the residents of Town Center, Columbia, and Howard County.

Lee Richardson

Columbia

The writer is chair of the Town Center Village Board.

School leaders teach the wrong lesson

After reading about the recent problems at Centennial and Oakland Mills high schools, I find myself wondering what the actions of some administrators are teaching the students - irresponsibility and dishonesty, for sure, but I fear that they are getting another message loud and clear too: It's not what you know but who you know and it doesn't matter what you do. If you have "friends" in high places, you will be bailed out.

It may be appropriate in rare cases for administrators to intervene and change students' grades. Mr. Plunkett has stated that the basis for the grade changes in many cases is "teacher performance." If this is true, isn't it appropriate that all the grades in the class be considered and not just the ones of athletes or relatives?

And what about the disparate consequences to the adults implicated in these incidents? While the coach at OMHS was assigned administrative leave during the investigation, for the associate superintendents it is business as usual.

Children need to know that they have some measure of control over their lives and that they will reap what they sow, especially since many realize the far reaching significance of their grades with respect to future college consideration. Shouldn't every student have the equal benefit of a level playing field based solely on their performance?

This should not be an example of the haves and have nots. It would be refreshing if everyone remembered what their elementary teachers taught them - be nice and play fair.

Colleen Morris

Columbia

Changing grades insults good teachers

As teachers in Howard County schools, we are concerned about the comment made by Roger Plunkett ("Claims known before Letter, O'Rourke says," Dec. 11)) about the teacher who wrote the anonymous letter about the incident concerning Kim Statham's relative at Centennial High School. Letters that we have written in the past have always been supportive of our school system, but Mr. Plunkett's statement that "It is a shame that an educator would be so unfocused on children" is quite disparaging.

When a teacher feels that the integrity of the educational process has been compromised (as in the case of a supervisor forcing a grade change, as is alleged), it is not only the teacher's right, but also his/her responsibility to demand that the expectations for all students remain high. Aren't high expectations what Howard County is all about? Would the system prefer that a teacher with concerns about lowered expectations simply sit back and let it happen?

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