Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

April 28, 2008

At least Franchot listens to parents

Baltimore County Executive James T. Smith Jr.'s attack on state Comptroller Peter Franchot was an insult not just to the comptroller but to thousands of Towson-area families ("Franchot joins school fray," April 24).

The verbal assault he launched through a spokeswoman only shows how incredibly out of touch Mr. Smith is regarding Towson's overcrowded schools.

The group I lead, Towson Families United, invited Mr. Franchot to visit because the county executive has so far refused to step up to the plate and fund a new elementary school in Towson.

In fact, he has done harm to our cause by rejecting a school board recommendation that the county reopen Ruxton Elementary School.

Mr. Smith has put $18 million into his latest budget to build some ill-conceived additions to existing schools - some of which are not even close to Towson's core, where the overcrowding problem is greatest.

Contrast that amount with the $29 million he allocated to build the Vincent Farms Elementary School in Northeast Baltimore County.

Mr. Smith must know that the money he has set aside for additions is woefully inadequate to solve the problem.

Towson will soon be home to three of the five most overcrowded schools in the county.

Today, the Towson-area elementary schools are 451 students over capacity. That number will grow to more than 800 in the next five years.

As parents, we must speak to anyone who will take the time to listen to our concerns.

Yes, Mr. Franchot is a politician. But we'll take a leader who listens to our concerns, rather than one who belittles them, any day.

Cathi Forbes, Towson

The writer is the chairwoman of Towson Families United, a group representing parents in Towson-area schools.

Crowding extends well beyond Towson

I am glad that Comptroller Peter Franchot is highlighting the school overcrowding that affects so many Baltimore County schools ("Franchot joins school fray," April 24). We should be grateful whenever a state official shows an understanding of the severity of this problem.

While the comptroller toured Towson-area elementary schools, the problem is not limited to that area, and it is not new.

In 2003, a study commissioned by the Baltimore County Board of Education concluded that a new high school was needed to reduce overcrowding from Towson to Perry Hall. This study did not even factor in the thousands of families who will relocate to Baltimore County as a result of the base realignment process.

Over the past five years, Baltimore County has had large surpluses it could have used to purchase the land needed for a new high school. Instead, the county built additions to existing schools, which only worsen the crowding in facilities such as the school library and cafeteria.

Was an element of politics involved in the comptroller's visit? Probably.

But at least it advanced the notion that new schools are needed in Baltimore County, not just bulky new additions.

David Marks, Perry Hall

The writer is a former president of the Northeast Area Advisory Council for the Baltimore County public schools.

County executive ignores the problem

I'm not generally a fan of Comptroller Peter Franchot, but I'll give him credit for one thing: At least he's paying attention. And Mr. Franchot scores points with this parent for his willingness to listen, to physically view our schools and to acknowledge the overcrowding problems in Towson schools ("Franchot joins school fray," April 24)

A spokeswoman for County Executive James T. Smith Jr. claims the comptroller's visit to Rodgers Forge Elementary "was about Peter Franchot looking to get his name out in Baltimore County."

Mr. Smith's spokeswoman further claims Mr. Franchot's tour is part of "a series of political stunts that don't benefit the children of Baltimore County."

My reply to Mr. Smith is this: What have you done for us lately?

Courtney McGee, Towson

Franchot's reach exceeds his grasp

Our late state comptroller Louis L. Goldstein must be frowning from on high over the activities of the current state comptroller, Peter Franchot ("Franchot joins school fray," April 24).

Mr. Franchot's expansion of the office to cover issues such as slots and life sciences and now to intercede in a purely local disagreement between Baltimore County Executive James T. Smith Jr., the Baltimore County school board and community organizations about the need for and location of new schools in the county is pure self-aggrandizement of a political nature.

"Horrible" is the best that can be said of the state comptroller's antics.

I think it's time to rethink the state constitution's recall provisions.

Edwin S. Crawford, Baltimore

Supporting families can prevent crime

What a great idea University of Maryland Professor Orde F. Kittrie has: challenging his law students to propose innovative solutions to crime ("Crime prevention in Baltimore: 101," April 20).

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