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February 26, 2009

Git ‘er Done…

Joan Marie Aquilino

Come on people, where do we live, what are we? We live in America, we are American's. We have survived more and much worse in our history, and we are stronger than what our government is dishing out.


Our government is focusing on the losers, the deadbeats and the crooks. Focus on us, our courage and our strength. If 9/11 didn’t bring us to our knees, and keep us there, than this nose dive in the economy certainly can’t take us down. Look at our past and what we have accomplished.


Americans, you've got a couple choices. Blame everyone and everything except yourself and wait and hope someone bails you out. Or just get on with life. Live lean and mean; pay off things; save what you can, and be responsible.


Don’t live stupid. Make every move as if there will be no one to bail you out, and you – and only you – will be responsible for your actions.


We can all make cuts. Stop buying prepared foods. We don't need energy drinks. Make a meal instead of eating out. Have friends over for drinks and a game or DVD instead of going out. Get rid of all the fancy cable stations, do the basics.


If you don't have the money, then you obviously can't afford whatever it is you're drooling over. Give it the one week test, if you still want it then save. No more charging. No more spending what you don't have. Get rid of credit. Live on cash. If you must have a credit card, leave it at home; hide it from yourself.


High school and college students having credit cards is the single dumbest thing I've ever witnessed. When they are brought up valuing plastic over cash, what do you expect? ATM cards are just as bad. Get real. Get practical! Cash, people, use cash. Put the value back into the penny and the dollar. Yes, I do practice what I preach. I do not have major credit cards and there is no doubt I can still find places to cut.


* * * * * * * * * *


My little shout out to my buddy, Michael Steele, we got you there, now, pretty please, start cultivating some responsible, accountable leaders.


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Okay, I'm going to take another stab at the Frederick County Board of Education. For years I've begged the members to take responsibility for their actions, and for us to hold them accountable. Neither has happened.


I obviously needed to look at it differently. What I saw was possibly a structuring problem. My comments are not personal in nature but more about the structure. There are many good and hardworking people within the system.


I've acknowledged in the past and more recently so did a school board member at the latest joint meeting with the Board of County Commissioners. They are there to advocate for funds. Do we need a Board of Fundraisers? Keeping in mind the school board members are the only ones you have any control over. They are accountable to the taxpayers and voters. The superintendent (sometimes) and on down are hired from within, some protected by contracts.


The appearance is that the superintendent runs the school system with the aide of the school board, which is no longer appointed by the governor. It's now just like the county commissioners, the sheriff, etc. It's an elected position accountable to you and me, the voters.


On the other side of the street, the commissioners run the county with the aide of a county manager. The county manager is accountable to the commissioners.


The school system has the departments, the schools, Parent Teachers Association, etc., to advocate for money. The school board should be telling the school system what it wants, and that all departments need to make X amount of cuts. Give the departments and schools a chance to make their own cuts and give justifications on spending to the school board itself – not to the staff.


I see a disconnect in the way the two entities work which might be part of the perception that the school board are just fundraisers, going to Mommy (state) and Daddy (county) to constantly raise their allowances. If they are refused, they go to the Grandma (taxpayers) and tattle on Mom and Dad.


The contract recently written for the new central office building for the school system, written to protect the superintendent, the system and the school board, gets it done. It's not protection with kick out clauses for the taxpayers.


Contracts should protect both sides. The only way that will ever happen is if we start paying attention and let them know how we feel. For every single dollar of tax money paid by us to the county, the school system gets 50 cents, or better.


Doesn't it bother you that the superintendent said the budget (spending wish list) would go in with the assumption it would be funded. A budget is something you do when you are trying to cut cost, not when you are just telling someone else what you want. Now it appears the state and federal government might end up bailing them out. Wow! Valuable lesson learned there! What lesson are we teaching our children with that one?


Where is the request for all employees outside of the classroom taking a pay cut or furlough days? I've heard why teachers, bus drivers, etc., can't do it, but there are many more employees that could take one for the team.


What is the percentage of school personnel who aren’t actually inside the classroom? I'm sure the teachers are willing to do what they can also. What about all the others? What about structuring the calendar so we don't have half days which very little for saving money or education?


Conference days lumped together. If a parent doesn’t show up stop rescheduling. They know where you are. Why do you need to schedule a conference with a parent of an A student. They already know what is going on and don’t wait to talk to the teacher once or twice a year.


I've heard the suggestion of a four-day school week, which, if possible, does make economic sense. I’m not sure if it can legally be done. Structure days so that when students aren't in the building and only staff is there, it's in seasons where air conditioning and heating don't have to be on. Build new schools or do renovations where sections can be closed off and not waste utilities. Develop teacher work pods that a small space heater can heat instead of heating an entire building. Build, spend and work like you are out of money. We aren't saying no to the children. We are saying no to the "system" that claims it's going to hurt our children’s education if we cut off spending without accountability.


’til next time . . .


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