Balt. Co. schools deserve more support

April 18, 2011

As reported in The Sun ("Balt. Co. budget is nearly flat, draws down reserve money," April 15), Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz said his number one priority is not to raise taxes. On the Baltimore County government website, his budget summary states, "No increase in Baltimore County's property tax rate — 23rd year in a row, or income tax rate — 19th year in a row." We cannot receive decent services at those funding levels any more than we should expect to live well now on incomes of 19-to-23 years ago.

Mr. Kamenetz has chosen the same path as former County Executives Jim Smith and Dutch Ruppersberger, i.e. the politically expedient one, instead of providing services and public school facilities at the level we deserve and can afford in this county.

This budget explains why our school infrastructure is the second oldest in the state, with less than half having adequate climate control in both hot and cold months. If three schools a year received air conditioning, it would take over 25 years to get them all done — by then, all the public schools in Howard County will have had air conditioning for 50 years.

This budget is why the overcrowding nightmare in county schools will drag on for years, with thousands of hours spent by agonized parents fighting with Baltimore County Public Schools over school funding that should have been provided long ago.

This budget is why we are losing 200 teacher positions, and class sizes are going up instead of down.

Our schools are falling apart, and the insufficient spending on them is penny-wise and pound foolish. Jurisdictions rise and fall on the strength of the schools. Apparently, the Sun's editorial board ("Keeping teachers in the classrooms," April 14) thinks Baltimore County residents would never approve a modest property tax increase for schools. Let's prove them wrong.

Laurie Taylor-Mitchell, Towson

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