To the Editor:
Recently some PTO members put together a meeting at Garrett College to address school parents’ concerns about the dire situation of our public school system.
The following facts were addressed:
The Garrett County public school system needs $2.2 million to continue to operate at status quo. Without a $2.2 million increase to the Garrett County Board of Education (BOE) budget, we will be looking at school closures/ consolidations.
The BOE has stated that school closures is not their intent. The main reason is that since FY2009 the state of Maryland has decreased funding by $4.5 million to the BOE. This $4.5 million decrease in state funding is primarily due to student enrollment decreasing at alarming rates and Maryland’s new “wealth formula.”
From FY2009 to FY20 14, student enrollment has decreased by 1,149 students. Currently, the BOE gets approximately $5,000 per student from the state, which is based on the “wealth formula.” The “wealth formula” is used to gauge a county’s perceived ability to fund school activities based upon its own resources. Garrett County is now considered the fifth wealthiest county in the state.
Since FY2009 the Garrett County commissioners have increased their funding by $2.2 million to the BOE. Also, since FY2009 the county has taken an approximate $5 million decrease from its budget in highway user revenue and forestry and park revenue from the state.
It is estimated that in FY20 15 the county will see an approximate decrease of $2.5 million in real estate tax revenue due to a decrease in assessments on the Deep Creek Lake properties. With the BOE needing $2.2 million from the county and with a $2.5 million decrease in real estate tax revenue, our county commissioners are facing a $4.7 million budget issue to resolve for FY20 15.
At our meeting we had a great discussion among concerned parents as to what we do. All agreed that the “wealth formula” is not working for us and that our state legislators need to be contacted for help.
We also agreed that the Garrett County commissioners and the BOE need to work harder together to help resolve this issue.
Mainly, we all agreed that our children are worth the investment. Our cause of maintaining one of the best school systems in the nation is justified and our new name is “One Common Voice for Garrett County Schools.” Please join us at our next to be announced meeting.
Jeffery Conner, CPA