Letters

Letters

September 16, 2007

Disabled go without in the richest state

Two noteworthy items of startling contrast came out this summer.

First, Maryland is now the wealthiest state in the nation (and Howard County is the wealthiest county in the state).

Second, the state of Maryland has nearly 16,400 children and adults with cognitive and developmental disabilities and their families on a "waiting list" for services.

What are they waiting for? They are waiting for housing, employment, community living services and in-home family and individual support. They include people living with elderly or very ill caregivers, young families struggling to meet the needs of their children, and people with disabilities who -- with the right opportunity -- will contribute to our communities.

The Developmental Disabilities Community Services Waiting List has grown by over 3,000 in the past three years. That's a 24 percent increase. In Howard County, the number has grown from 409 to 688; that's a 68 percent increase in people waiting for services.

How does Maryland, the wealthiest state in the country, rank in the amount of money it devotes to services to support persons with cognitive and developmental disabilities? It ranks 44th.

How will people get off the waiting list? By Maryland allocating more funding for the services desperately needed by these individuals and their families.

As elected officials contemplate budget cuts and potential new revenues, we urge that the needs of children and adults with cognitive and developmental disabilities and their families not be forgotten.

Let's not let Maryland's Waiting List be a national disgrace.

Joseph Murray Sr.

President, board of directors

Carol A. Beatty

Executive director

The Arc of Howard County

School renovation choices must be fair

I have been reading with interest the articles and opinions regarding the Mount Hebron High School renovation issue. It seems to me that the main thing the community has asked for all along is a fair and equal process for determining the needs of each of the four high schools that need renovation. What they keep getting is hidden reports, backroom decision-making and subpar results.

According to the latest report, it is true that Mount Hebron is the worst with uniquely poor space, quality, and life-safety violations. That being said, there are many schools that are going to require renovation in the future. Each of these schools will also have problems unique to their structures.

As a member of the Worthington community, our family has had the pleasure of being redistricted to three high schools in the past 20 years, including Howard, Mount Hebron and Centennial. We never know where we are going to go. For this reason, we are looking to the Mount Hebron community to ring the gong for all of our communities. The process that this community is advancing is the process that all of the communities in Centennial, Atholton and Hammond will be going through in the future.

I hope that the Board of Education, County Council and the county executive get behind this community in its efforts to look at its school and its unique issues. This process can then be used to look at the other older schools and their unique issues.

Each of these schools needs to be brought up to the current educational specifications. For some, this may mean a new school, for others an addition and renovation. Each school will be different, but the processes should all be the same -- open and fair.

Ginger Segala Ellicott City

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