Cumberland Times-News

June 2, 2014

Does the school board expect to find the money on a tree?

To the Editor:
Cumberland Times-News

— Once again the Times-News contains an article about the board of education demanding more money — 3 percent more than the Maintenance of Effort (“Board frustrated by funding cut,” May 14 Times-News, Page 1A).

Their sob story is that “They have used about $3 million of the (general) fund since 2013 to balance its budget and avoid catastrophic program cuts.” Every year I about “catastrophic program cuts,” but I never see a list specifying these “catastrophic program cuts.”

They are starting to sound more like a term of “blackmail” to beat the county commissioners over the head to extract more money from the county. I am not prepared to accept the word of the school board that these cuts would be catastrophic if they can’t provide the public with a detailed list of these cuts and the dollar amount associated with each item on the list.

If they need more money maybe they should undertake some of those catastrophic program cuts which they always talk about. Since no detail is provided as to the nature of these cuts I see no reason why they should not undertake some of them to balance their budget.

The heart of the problem is “balancing the budget.” Does anyone at the board know anything about budget balancing and making cuts
to actually balance the budget as opposed to raiding the general fund?

How about making some hard choices and make some of those catastrophic cuts? Knowing that funding would be the MOE, and that they were short of money for the new high school, why did they negotiate a 1 percent raise for the Allegany Country Education Service Council? Did they expect to find the money on a tree?

Again I see a budgeting failure — it sounds as if the board needs a new Chief Business Officer who will bring some serious financial constraint to board’s budget so that they learn to live with the funds available to them.

Our economy is hardly in “recovery” and few people are getting raises despite rises in expenses, I fail to see why the teachers union
should be exempt from real life like the rest of us. How about the people on Social Security who have hardly seen any raises? Some jobs haven’t been able to give employees raises for many years now. Yet a county as poor as this one is expected to increase school board funding by 3 percent.

And when they get a student to say “Shouldn’t you invest in us?” I want to hear more than parroting words given by the board, and explain in detail in what way the county HAS NOT invested in her.

The board’s presentation at the county commissioners’ meeting was nothing but “dog whistle” politics!

Judith Weller LaVale