Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

June 23, 2013

Commissioners not a bottomless source of money

In reply to Kimi Scott-McGreevy (“We have lots to show for our education dollars,” June 18 Times-News):

Let me explain some simple budgeting facts. Education consumes about 40 percent of the Allegany County budget. You cannot count only the board of commissioners funds allocated directly to the board of education.

There are other education expenses for which the county pays — new high school, teacher pensions, etc., all of which totals about 40 percent of the budget.

 Despite all the money spent on education the BOE wants about $500,000 for security without presenting any detailed plan.

They offered no proof of what has changed from last year to this with school security. All of which makes it sound more like they are just fear-mongering to get more money.

 If the BOE wants the extra money then they need to reduce other areas of their budget like other organizations do. They could eliminate the Chinese Immersion program for elementary school for a start.

They can freeze teacher wages — after all the teachers in Allegany County are better paid than those in many other Maryland counties and don’t need annual raises. Allegany is a poor county.  Above all the BOE should consider merging schools, and dropping courses which have low enrollment. Schools can continue to eliminate positions as people retire.

Generally, nationwide schools are top loaded with administrators, so another area for staff reduction and a freeze of administrators’ salary for five years. After all many people in this county haven’t seen a raise for almost eight years and those on pension aren’t getting raises.

 As for the county reserve fund the BOC needs to start saving now for that time when state assistance funding for the pension system ceases and the entire burden must fall on the county. When you know you have a big expenditure coming down the road, it is only prudent to start saving early and not wait until the last minute.

The BOC is not a bottomless source of money; other areas must be funded in addition to the BOE. Yet all we ever hear from the BOE is a cry for more money. Obviously they and their rabid supporters need to learn how to budget and live with the money they receive.

 Yes, our schools are failing — nationwide. Our public schools fail to lift U.S. public education to the highest Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development level. We used to rank at the top, now our public education is near the bottom.

The best education is now available in private and charter school — not the public school system. Despite all the money we spend, public education gets worse. In short we are throwing money down a rat hole.

The new Core Curriculum is just another Washington-mandated failure.

 Public education needs a massive overhaul and a return to basics. Some schools place too much emphasis on sports instead of education. Students need to learn the basics without the aid of a computer. Reliance on computers in schools reduces basic skills. It is too easy for computers to be a crutch.

Manfred Spitzer, the noted German psychologist and author of Digital Dementia, believes that excessive reliance on computer gadgets like I-Pads makes students dumber not smarter.

 The current path we are on will not improve public education but continue its decline.

Judith Weller, PH.D

LaVale

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