Please tell me Balto. Co. school system isn't that disorganized

March 21, 2011

Please tell me that Phyllis Reese, spokeswoman for Baltimore County Schools was misquoted "that our small law office had to go through 17,000 names to retrieve the answer" to the salary request for Deputy Superintendent Renee Foose ("School administrative costs, public information practices draw backlash from Baltimore County lawmakers," March 19).

Please tell me that she meant to say that there were 17,000 requests for information ahead of The Sun's request. If not, please tell me that she just made up an excuse for the one-month delay without realizing the implications of what she said.

Otherwise, the implication is that Baltimore County's records have absolutely no organization because that is the only reason that one would need to review every employee record individually in order to locate the one you want. This would also mean that Ms. Foose's record happened to be at the bottom of the pile (otherwise one could stop the search earlier). If the records were in alphabetical order, wouldn't "Foose" be at least in the first third of the list?

Without getting into the math, if the records are in alphabetical order, I could prove that a human (or computer) could locate any individual record in a 17,000-entry collection in no more than 15 steps! Imagine how long it must take the school system to locate a request for one of 104,331 students from their database. At a processing rate of one month per 17,000, it would take just over 6 months (which means they could only handle two requests in a calendar year). Please tell me this isn't so.

Richard Ulrich, Glen Arm

The writer is a retired professor of computer science.

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