Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

April 02, 2008

Towson needs a new school

As concerned parents of a Rodgers Forge Elementary School kindergartener, we would like to express our appreciation for The Sun's coverage of the overcrowding of Towson's schools ("Board decries political pressure," March 30).

It is becoming quite clear that County Executive James T. Smith Jr. (a lame-duck county executive) is more concerned with securing his own future as a state politician than with addressing the needs of his current constituents.

Rodgers Forge, Hampton, Stoneleigh and Riderwood elementary schools are 451 students over their total collective capacity.

Our son's school is intended to educate 396 students. But today, as a result of the dedication of its teachers and staff, more than 625 children are taught and cared for with energy, enthusiasm and professionalism at that school. The community is grateful for this, but we recognize that it shouldn't be this way.

It is abundantly clear that Towson requires an additional school to properly serve the increasing school-age population.

Just 30 years ago, the Towson area had six elementary schools, but then-dwindling student numbers dictated closing two of them.

Now, the demographic tide has turned, and Towson needs at least one school back - a real school, not tacked-on additions that demonstrate short-range thinking and fail to fully address the needs of our students.

Beth Foster Mike Foster

Baltimore

What is happening in Baltimore County? School board members tell The Sun they felt pressured by County Executive James T. Smith Jr. to vote for an addition at Ridge Ruxton School as the one and only possible measure to relieve school overcrowding.

Board members were allegedly told last month that if they didn't support an addition to Ridge Ruxton, a school for children with special needs, Mr. Smith wouldn't fund any other plan to relieve overcrowding, including building a new school.

Thankfully, school board members tabled the vote on Mr. Smith's plan, which has been criticized for its potential impact to Ridge Ruxton's medically fragile children.

But this atmosphere of political pressure cannot continue.

The county executive and school board need to act now and do what's best for our children - open a new elementary school in Towson.

Heather Benassi

Towson

The writer is the parent of two children at Rodgers Forge Elementary School.

As The Sun's excellent article "Board decries political pressure" makes clear, Baltimore County Executive James T. Smith Jr. is playing political hardball to prevent the county school system from building a much-needed elementary school in Towson.

Today, Towson-area public schools are 451 students over capacity, and that number is only expected to grow in the coming years.

We don't need cheap, patchwork additions to existing schools. What we need is a new elementary school.

But, sadly, Mr. Smith is shirking his responsibility to provide effective leadership for all the people of Baltimore County, even its youngest.

Brian W. Simpson

Towson

The neighborhoods of the Towson area are some of the most desirable, stable and prosperous neighborhoods available to middle- and upper-middle-income families in the entire state. But if the overcrowding problems at our schools are not corrected, the neighborhoods will not continue to be so desirable.

The county executive needs to stop playing politics with our children's education.

My family has recently been given a new, higher tax assessment for living in Towson.

We deserve to have our tax dollars reinvested to strengthen our communities.

Dod Poe

Towson

Liquor lobby power influences our laws

Thank you for the article "Liquor lobby holds strong" (March 30). It is time that this special-interest group's power was exposed.

Despite their protestations to the contrary, it is obvious that some legislators' votes are influenced by campaign contributions from this lobby, especially when they support contradictory positions that favor the interests of this industry.

On one hand, the lobby argues that Internet wine sales will promote underage drinking (although studies show that in states allowing Internet sales, this is not the case) but, on the other hand, it argues for lowering the tax on sugary alcohol products and allowing wider marketing of them, which would make them more available to underage drinkers.

But the liquor lobby apparently can have it both ways - as long as it pumps in the campaign money.

Lamont Heppe

Pasadena

Thanks to The Sun for keeping the public informed about the stranglehold the liquor lobby apparently has on some elected officials.

I applaud The Sun for keeping this topic in the public eye and for publishing the list of the top 10 recipients of alcohol-industry money in the Assembly.

The transaction involved here is obvious. And, to add insult to injury, several legislators on key committees own bars and won't admit to a conflict of interest.

Meanwhile, Marylanders face rising taxes as the liquor industry stuffs the campaign war chests of elected officials.

Geri Schlenoff

Towson

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