Today is the second anniversary of this blog. Well, only because of a test post I posted making sure the thing worked. My first substantive post, on February 4, 2005 was about...an elected school board.Which brings me to today's story in the Sun:
Anne Arundel county school board members said they won't be bullied into cutting a $131 million budget increase they're seeking, despite County Executive John R. Leopold's directive that the district trim administrative fat.
Saying that central office administration accounted for only 3 percent of last year's $789 million budget, some school board members said yesterday that cuts would likely hit programs needed to help schools meet federal and state benchmarks.
"We gotta stop having these champagne tastes on a beer budget," Peterson said. "At those public budget hearings, all we kept hearing from parents is 'gimme, gimme, gimme,' but no one is willing to ante up. You can't have gimme without the ante."
Of course there are parents saying "gimme gimme gimme," as Peterson describes. Of course, all too often these parents and activists also have some sort of agenda they are trying to push. Your average parent, your average taxpayer, does not show up for a school board budget hearing because they have no agenda to pursue. The people who showed up at the hearing were naturally inclined to support Maxwell's profligate spending and expansion of the bureaucracy, because they are predisposed to agenda advocacy. I'd be willing to bet that those parents are also willing to pay higher taxes, too...
Once again, Vic Bernson is the voice of reason:
The elected officials are holding the line, at least for now:
Victor Bernson, a fiscal conservative recently appointed to the school board by former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., sided with Leopold. He said it's "appalling" that Superintendent Kevin M. Maxwell's budget proposal includes funding for more than 670 new staff positions. Though some of them are necessary because of state mandated expansion of the full-day kindergarten program, many are not, he said.
"It's like we can never spend enough," Bernson said. "And as I go through this document and look for corresponding cuts and savings, I'm hard-pressed to find them. It's a gargantuan, unrealistic request and I'm really frustrated by this continued talk ... that all we need to do is raise taxes and everything will be happy, happy, joy, joy."
Leopold said he's in the process of sitting down separately with the superintendent, the school board, the County Council and others to reach a budget target number.
"Seventeen percent is not affordable," Leopold said, referring to the funding increase the school system is seeking. "I've made it very clear that I do not support tax increases."
County Council Chairman Ronald C. Dillon Jr., a Pasadena Republican, said of Leopold: "I think he will do all he can [to not increase taxes]. All the council members are very anxious to see what he will propose in May."
Well, Leopold better not raise taxes, given his promises. But once again I do not understand how the members of the board, particularly Eugene Peterson, do not see the reality of the situation. We cannot have those who are unelected continue to rant and rave about the need to raise taxes. This is getting ridiculous, particularly considering that the County Executive has said "no," and in the current structure we have, no means no if the County Executive says so. It's Leopold's budget, and if Leopold doesn't want to fund it, that's his prerogative. Do I need to say it again, that we depserately need an elected school board, notwithstanding the objections of nearly all legislative leaders?
Labels: Anne Arundel, Education, John Leopold, School Board Reform, Taxes