September 1, 2012
Regarding your story on questionable credit card expenses by Baltimore City school administrators, the various explanations offered by school officials are unconvincing despite their incredible rhetoric ("City school officials play loose with credit," Aug. 26). A prime example is the description of a $13,000 catering bill for a central office meeting as "fellowshipping around food that has existed in city schools for decades. " First, saying something has been done for decades doesn't mean it is right.
August 27, 2012
In the last year, as Baltimore city schools' budgetary decisions -- $14 million in overtime, generous leave payouts, a renovated IT Department -- have faced heightened scrutiny, officials have defended much of their spending as "the cost of doing business. " In April, The Baltimore Sun sought to get a better picture of what exactly some of that business was -- and several sources informed us that credit card and procurement card statements, which outlined day-to-day activities at the system's central headquarters would do so. We began a four-month task by requesting credit and procurement card statements showing activity by central office staff from 2009 through 2011, through a Maryland Public Information Act Request in April.
August 18, 2012
Board of County Commissioners President Doug Howard last week asked the Board of Education to add the Winchester Building - the headquarters building for the entire school system - to its list of buildings that will be reviewed for possible sale. Howard made the request to the school board's Facilities Study Group, which is working to determine if money can be saved by reducing the number of facilities the school system operates. Howard said he was concerned that the group would recommend closing one or more county schools without considering moving the central office staff to other sites available around the county.
August 5, 2012
Shortly before retiring this summer, Howard County school superintendent Sydney Cousin told employees in the central office that he was giving them a pay raise but did not take the matter before the school board for approval. Some board members say that while it is within the purview of the superintendent to recommend raises for nonunion employees, the board must approve such actions and several criticized what they called a lack of transparency. Cousin, however, said in an interview last week that he believed he followed the correct process.
June 14, 2012
Ron Belinko spent a lot of time at high school games over the last 21 years, despite the heavy load of office work and meetings that came with being coordinator of athletics for the Baltimore County Public Schools. He never could let go of the student-athletes who remained the focus of everything he did over a 46-year career as a teacher, coach, athletic director and central office administrator with the county. Belinko, who will retire Friday, found no better measure of how well he did his job than seeing it all come together on the field.
July 27, 2011
We've been told over and over that the most effective way to improve the quality of public school instruction is to put a great teacher in every classroom. But apparently it isn't a very high priority for the Baltimore County School District. In fact, county school leaders seem to think just the opposite. A Sun analysis this week showed that the district is spending $1.9 million on salaries for newly hired administrative and support personnel in the coming school year, even as it reduces the number of classroom teachers and increases class sizes.