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April 9, 2009

Enough with the Threats

Joan Marie Aquilino

We’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it any more. Don’t believe me; take a look at the Letters to the Editors, forums, radio, and other columnists for yourself.


The Frederick County Board of Education steadfastly holds children above their heads saying if we don’t give it (money) up, they’ll hurt the children and teachers by reducing education and salaries. Stupid, Frederick is not. So, stop with the threats. Leave the children and classroom teachers alone.


Pssst, just in case you forgot, you don’t have a purpose or job without children and teachers. With a few administrators missing, or salaries being cut, and no new central office building, the public schools will continue.


You can tout all the awards in the world, but when you also spend money like drunken sailors and continually throw it in the faces of those paying the bills, something is going to give. Right now it’s public’s tolerance. (I apologize to all drunken sailors for the comparison.)


Clandestine school board meetings have got to STOP! You are elected individuals. Think and speak for yourselves and do it in public.


The Board of Education president is heard saying (in reference to Maintenance of Effort waiver requested by the county commissioners) . . . “make it a teacher choice as to what will be done.” Excuse me, this isn’t a teacher’s problem, it’s the elected school board’s problem. You wanted this job. Got yourselves elected! Now fight your own battles. Don’t dump it on the backs of teachers and children.


During a joint meeting with the county commissioners, a school board member(s) accused the county of verbal assault and inciting. Do you not incite parents, teachers and children when you threaten them? If that is your definition of assault, do you not verbally assault anyone that dares challenge or question your decisions? Another member made a clear reference to incitement at the school board meeting just prior to his statement made to a commissioner, accusing him of inciting. Kettle(s) meet Pot.


Did the school board not make a claim of having only one attorney? See, when two attorney’s (attorney Andrew Nussbaum and attorney Jamie Cannon) are mentioned, and when you hire outside attorneys as needed, that little statement about the commissioners having so many, and you only have one, has a tendency to fall on deaf ears. Once again, Kettle meet Pot.


Wasn’t it the school board that voted on the superintendent’s newest multi-year contract and the budget all on the same evening with glowing approvals for both? Didn’t the budget show full funding? Wasn’t there a discussion as to taking your chances and seeing how much they could “get” first before making cuts?


Now, when push comes to shove, the first words are cut the teachers, attack the teachers, add students, cut sports, or walk further. Give me a break. You didn’t, or couldn’t, do it. Now it’s out of your hands.


So, I will ask again. When the school board screams the sky is falling, and if it doesn’t get all it wants, it’ll make cuts within the classroom, don’t you think that is a wee bit arrogant considering the superintendents contract was not only fully funded but overfunded to the tune of three hundred thousand dollars plus, when you put dollars to all the perks offered. How many new administrative positions have just “appeared” in the last few years? Keep in mind when they “appear,” their old jobs are left to be filled also. Oh, what a tangled web we are weaving.


If we are wrong, then have at it and show the falsehoods. Argue and debate without sticking children and teachers into the equation. I’m waiting for a good and logical reason to keep pouring money down this never ending hole. I feel like it’s one of those sink holes along South Street run amuck. It keeps getting bigger and deeper, no matter how much fill is added.


Exactly how did giving the superintendent a raise, multi-year contract, vehicle with fully funded family medical coverage and yearly bonuses help children in this county?


I pray the state allows the waiver of funds for the Maintenance of Effort to be trimmed back to its absolute minimum. I also hope Commissioner Jan Gardner realizes this is one of those necessary evils to keep us solvent, and that it’s no reflection at all on her commitment to education. These actions show a huge commitment by her and the other county commissioners to not only education, but also to the taxpayers. The time for discussion is over; cut the school board budget along with all the others. Get them back on track and living in reality.


The budget’s been padded for so long we barely notice anymore. It’s time to do some major trimming before it so top heavy that the whole thing just falls over and completely fails our students. Everyone should know that the stronger the roots, (teachers, children and parents) the stronger the branches (school board, superintendent, and administrators) will be. The strength comes from the bottom up, not from the top down.


If the central office building is a done deal because of the way the school board wrote – or accepted – the contract, then use that building to house the children from Lincoln, West Frederick and other area schools while renovations to their schools are being completed. Those schools are in dire need.


Take care of the children and their teachers first. If the market improves, start selling properties and rent one of the office buildings sitting vacant in Frederick until all the children and teachers are in safe, healthy schools. Solarex is getting ready to lease some of their new space because of downsizing. If you need money, sell the new central office of the Board of Education.


If you agree please email the commissioners ( immediately and let them know.


The Board of Education needs to be held to higher standards and accountability. Open the doors to all meetings. No more gag orders! And get over the idea that it’s about you. It’s only about the children and their education.



’til next time . . .


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