The current Maryland state funding formula for Allegany County school construction is clear; the time to act is now!
It would be as foolish to walk away from an opportunity like this as it would be to walk away from someone willing to pay 93 percent of your mortgage. Let’s say you live in a very old home, and have a limited budget, but need to address some major repairs to continue to live there.
Your parents are concerned for your well-being, so they offer to pay 93K of the 100K price tag to build a new home. You don’t really have 7K, but you can borrow that money at a very low rate.
You are fiscally conservative, and take a hard look at just repairing your current home. The roof will cost 15K, and the new heating system will cost 3K. It is clear that your only responsible option is to pay the 7K toward a new home, rather than fork out 18K to do some repairs on a building that will definitely continue to need repairs since it has exceeded its useful life.
You cannot rent an apartment for a year for $7,000, but you can own the home after paying the $7,000 whether up front or through a mortgage. At the end of the day, you own a home and you immediately see the 1450 percent return on your investment. You absolutely cannot lose.
This is not the same as borrowing more than you can afford for a home — you are off the hook immediately for 93 percent of the value. In addition, you are not being offered a house too large or extravagant for your needs; it is designed perfectly in size to meet your needs.
You realize how wise your decision was after moving in because your cost of living has gone down due to efficiencies in fixed costs — not to mention your family is much happier and healthier.
This is a picture of our situation regarding school construction in Cumberland. It is hard to believe that the state would care enough to give so abundantly, yet they are, even so much as to have a personal letter from Dr. Lever stating his support sent to the board of education!
I have no personal bias in this debate as my children will graduate before construction is complete, and I am proud to say my alma mater is Fort Hill. The diverse Allegany County public school committee was steadfast in recommending a financially sound proposal; I served on the Eperitus secondary school committee to represent my peers and local industry.
I have researched, toured and listened to community opinions from all neighborhoods; the evidence that schools in low income communities should be managed at a smaller population for success is self-evident.
In fact, Allegany is average in size at 800 students, not small which is defined nationally as less than 400 students; medium is defined as 401-1,200 students, and large is considered greater than 1,200.
In addition, the committee recognized that in the event of a severe setback in the economy during the efforts to modernize our Cumberland schools, the new school built to replace Allegany could easily be transformed to a middle school if necessary.
After meeting with (school board president) Mike McKay personally, I am thankful that he indicated he is planning to sign the capital improvements program, and I am hopeful that the dollars allocated by the county commissioners to build a new high school in the city will accommodate the necessary budget and allow the school board to make a successful bid for Maryland state funding in the coming fiscal year.