We want your opinions

speak out!

January 10, 2007

ISSUE:

Saying the school system can be one of the country's best and that the county can afford to pay for it, Anne Arundel Superintendent Kevin M. Maxwell has proposed a $920 million operating budget for the next fiscal year.

The operating budget, which he outlined to the school board Jan. 3, calls for a $131 million increase - 17 percent - to expand special education services, prekindergarten and all-day kindergarten programs; bolster security; update technology; and launch the International Baccalaureate program at Meade High School and precursor programs at three middle schools. It also funds a previously negotiated 6 percent salary increase for teachers.

The call for excellence might put into focus the amount of money the county, constrained by a tax cap, is willing to spend on education in a belt-tightening year, given other pressing funding demands.

The county faces several expenses that will total in the billions of dollars: road upgrades and an expansion of mass transit around Fort Meade; the negotiation of 10 union contracts; growing commitments for retirees' health care; and school construction and renovations. County Executive John R. Leopold vowed in his fall campaign that he would not raise taxes.

YOUR VIEW:

Given the financial challenges facing the county, can Anne Arundel afford a 17 percent increase in schools funding? How should it be paid for?

Tell us what you think at arundel.speakout@baltsun.com by tomorrow. Please keep your responses short, and include your name, address and phone number. A selection will be published Sunday.

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