Cumberland Times-News

Editorials

May 9, 2013

Partnership needed to deal with fiscal problems

In response to the “Open Letter to the Citizens of Garrett County” from the Garrett County Board of Education (“Garrett board of education warns of bleak times ahead,” May 8 Times-News, Page 1A):

Broadly viewed, the letter serves as a “call-to-action.” First and foremost, the Board of County Commissioners unanimously and wholeheartedly supports this call.

More specifically, the letter describes the eroded fiscal environment that the Garrett County public school system has recently faced, as well as the likely continuation of this fiscal erosion given current economic conditions.

It further, and rightly, describes the strain such conditions will present to our public schools, our instructional, educational, and support professionals, our current and future student bodies, the communities that have a public school as a cornerstone, and the competitive position of our business development environment.

While the specifics of these conditions, their causes, accelerants, and mitigants, can and should be debated, they do indeed call us all to action.

Finally, the letter contains two explicit requests to the commissioners:

1. To meet with the Board of Education in public session

2. To provide budgetary commitments for “2015 and beyond.”

On April 16, 2013, I responded to the elected members of the board of education affirming that the board of county commissioners appreciates their invitation to meet and discuss the “Future of the garrett county public school system.”

In that correspondence I stated that planning for future year funding/budgets is now more significant than at any time in the past. county government has for some time reviewed current budgets along with five impending years, and this practice has proven to be a wise judgment which is evident when comparing actual/final budgets to initial budget estimates.

County government and the board of county commissioners have made public education a priority for many years.

Now more than ever open dialog and cooperation, to include the participation of the county administrator, superintendent of schools, and senior staff from both our organizations, is imperative.

To address these requests, I respectfully and humbly issue my own call to you and the elected members of the board of education.

This is a call-to-partnership. The fiscal strains that we must address are both economic and demographic. I would endorse the following:

1. The charter and formation of a multidisciplinary advisory board with members from the county departments of financial services and economic development, Garrett College administrative staff, Garrett County public school system administrative staff, you, and me.

2. The task of this advisory board would be to develop a range of specific proposals for addressing the fiscal strain on the Garrett County public school system and the economic predictions for Garrett County government over the short and long-term.

3. Our respective boards should be updated during our administrative review. The combined evaluation and finalization of these proposals by the board of county commissioners and the board of education will be presented in public forum to allow for public commentary and a definitive plan for immediate implementation.

The board of county commissioners, departments of financial services and economic development management, and I support financial planning and believe these requests can be best addressed only after all parties have conducted the work necessary to present solutions that we are prepared to stand behind and execute collectively.

I am convinced that extended open-ended and potentially divisive public debate on these issues will ultimately serve no productive end.

Finally, I ask for your partnership and offer my pledge to be open and forthright. I would ask for this in return. I believe our mutual accountability to address these issues will serve as a powerful motivator for the open, transparent, and creative dialog that will be required to solve them.

R. Lamont Pagenhardt

Garrett County administrator

 

1
Text Only
Editorials
  • No secrets No secrets

    The idea of fracturing for natural gas makes many people anxious about potential harmful effects. For that reason alone, it is incumbent on Maryland government to require full disclosure of chemicals used in the process.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Don’t do it. Don’t do it

    Temperatures have been moderate recently but are projected to rise to the upper 80s and low 90s later this week, so we want to remind you: Never leave children unattended in a vehicle.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • July 20, 1969 July 20, 1969

    When Apollo 11 landed on the moon 45 years ago today, it was until that time the mostwatched television programming in history.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Stopgap

    Kicking the can down the road was one of the things American kids did to pass the time in the old days, particularly if they lived in rural areas where there was little traffic to contend with.

    July 16, 2014

  • Maryland on target to meet 2025 bay restoration goals

    July 16, 2014

  • Tough luck Tough luck

    The state has for a second time declined to help Allegany County get federal flood recovery funds in the wake of the June 12 storm.

    July 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Heard it all Heard it all

    Pesky thing, this requirement that political candidates file campaign finance reports.

    July 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Build it now Build it now

    Anticipated savings from demolition work that will provide ground for a new Allegany High School on Haystack Mountain may allow the addition of an auditorium at the school.

    July 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Get on with it

    Now that Maryland State’s Attorney General Doug Gansler has been asked to help with the investigation of the McCoole Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department it is our hope that the probe regains traction.

    July 12, 2014

  • A good turn A good turn

    “Do a good turn daily” is the slogan of the Boy Scouts of America. “Turn,” in this case, means a deed ... a good deed you didn’t really have to do, but you did it because it would make somebody else’s life a little better.

    July 10, 2014 1 Photo