Speak Out!

August 13, 2006

LAST WEEK'S ISSUE -- The Anne Arundel County school board severed its ties with a Crofton employment business last week after questioning the way a $1.4 million, two-year contract would be used to rehire three retired administrators, skirting state pension regulations.

Board members also were concerned about the cost of using Human Resources Inc.

Superintendent Kevin Maxwell still plans to rehire former interim Superintendent Nancy Mann, former Deputy Superintendent Ken Nichols and former Director of Student Services Leslie Mobray. He said he will look for another way to do so.

Maryland law limits the amount retired school employees can earn while drawing a pension, and Mann reached her maximum, $60,000, when she stepped down at the end of June.

She, Nichols and Mobray could be paid up to $500 a day for up to 90 days to do consulting for the school system.

Should the county rehire retired administrators to serve as short-term consultants? Is their expertise worth the cost?

Maxwell should listen to board

It does not bode well for Superintendent Kevin Maxwell to thwart the collective wisdom of the school board in his attempt to skirt state pension law on "double-dipping." He is diminishing his own credibility and leadership skills by attempting to find a way around the law to rehire three retired administrators. The benefits of institutional knowledge are not worth the price, either in taxpayer dollars or stature, for the new superintendent. Maxwell will always have budget constraints in meeting school objectives. The question is whether he has the vision and skills to innovate within those restrictions. The citizens of Anne Arundel County would be better served if he uses his time and talent to move the system forward.

Maryellen O. Brady Edgewater

Turn to people with experience

Who better would know the ins and outs of a school system than those who worked their way up through the system, from the teaching level to administrator? An assistant superintendent had better be prepared and ready to step into that position at any time - which brings us to the present situation.

When a superintendent is hired from outside the school system and the prior superintendent is already gone, who does the new one have to turn to for background and the ins and outs of the system? Assistant superintendents who have been passed over for the position, and how long does it take?

You go to a person who has the experience and knowledge of being in that position and with no ax to grind.

Yes, in this case, the money is being well spent. Was the methodology in this case correct? It is obvious this was an attempt to skirt the pension system rules. Shame on the board of education for playing dumb. Who is watching the budget process? The money has to come out of the salaries category. Someone or some positions are going to be delayed in hiring. That's the way the system works.

It has always ground on me that the county board of education has spent hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars searching for superintendents since David S. Jenkins was superintendent. The implication is that there are no homegrown talents to be found here. Today, superintendents rarely last more than four years before they are off applying somewhere else. Their salaries and "goodies" keep growing, causing teachers to wonder why they don't share accordingly.

Bill Kerns Annapolis

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