Resolved: Let Anne Arundel Schools Spend, Wisely
by Diane R. Evans
There is more than a $5.8 million pot of money in county coffers that can and should be used to fund our schools and our children's education. Like the students and parents of Anne Arundel County, I too want the money intended for our schools to be spent for the direct benefit of the students. If the money isn't transferred from the chief administrative officer's contingency account to the children and the programs they need, there's no hope of that happening. This is why I introduced the education funding resolution in the County Council several weeks ago.
Many people have asked why, then, did I abruptly withdraw the resolution?
I was faced with a dilemma: stick with my resolution and see County Council opponents dilute it drastically or, since the county executive had agreed to release the moneys, withdraw the resolution.
I had three goals in mind when I introduced the resolution requesting the county executive to forward the necessary legislation to the County Council asking us to transfer the moneys, with no strings attached, to the Board of Education.
And indeed, parents spoke. They did tell us, in no uncertain terms, that they want the gifted and talented program restored in the middle schools, and they want no new fees to play sports and participate in music programs. They want more teachers in the classrooms, leak-proof roofs, adequate textbooks, technology and the maintenance backlog reduced. They want the moneys controlled by the county executive to be transferred and used for their kids as it was intended. The parents' message was heard by the county executive, the Council and the Board of Education. I also listened.
The act of introducing the resolution, in conjunction with substantial public pressure, was enough to force the executive to propose releasing the funds.
However to undermine the school board's authority -- even though the state prohibits restrictions on that money -- the majority faction on the council was poised to amend my resolution, putting conditions on the money. They had the votes. The majority's proposed amendment would have nullified the victory parents achieved in forcing the county executive to propose releasing the moneys.
Because my resolution forced the county executive to earmark the money for release, the resolution itself wasn't needed any more. I pulled my resolution because the objectives had been met.
Now, what should the County Council do? If we're ever to resolve this problem, I believe the moneys intended for education should be transferred, without conditions.
It then becomes the Board of Education's responsibility to use the moneys efficiently. And woe be to them if they don't. They, too, have heard from the parents. We all have.
I believe they'll do the right thing. Let's give them that chance. Let's release the money.
The Anne Arundel County Council holds a public hearing on the school funding issue beginning at 7pm on Monday August 17 at council chambers in the Arundel Center in Annapolis. Park on the street or in the Clay or Gorman Street Garages.
Anne Arundel County Councilwoman Diane R. Evans, of Arnold, is seeking election as county executive.
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Volume VI Number 32
August 13-19, 1998
New Bay Times
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