Cumberland Times-News

May 18, 2013

An old story

School board, county still fighting over money

Cumberland Times-News

— What for years has been an on-again, off-again battle over funding between the Allegany County Commissioners and the Allegany County Board of Education seems to be growing even uglier.

Last week, we reported that Commissioner Michael McKay said it became personal after he received an e-mail from a teacher attacking his family over school funding.

The commissioners have said they will increase funding for schools next year, but only by what is needed to meet maintenance of effort levels required by the state. The school board says that won’t be enough.

The situation is similar in Garrett County, where education officials say the funding they will receive is inadequate to run the schools. Advance revenue funding projections indicate the situation will only become worse.

Education takes up the lion’s share of budgets in both Allegany and Garrett counties, but other departments provide needed services.  Should budgets be cut for such things as our Department of Emergency Services, the Sheriff’s Office, or road maintenance — which already is suffering because of cutbacks in state funding — to provide more money for education?

It has been suggested that the General Assembly be persuaded to allow county boards of education to raise their own revenue.

More than 30 years ago, the Allegany County Board of Education asked the commissioners for permission to set its own levy. The commissioners’ answer was basically this: If we allow you to do that, you will bankrupt the county.

The money supply is not unlimited (as some apparently believe), and no one is morally entitled to as much of it as they want (as some suggest). It’s time for the parties involved to realize this and — where it applies — start behaving like grownups and find answers that will work.