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May 22, 2009

Squirreling Away Part 2

Joan Marie Aquilino

Yesterday I started this conversation about how elitist I believe our Frederick County Board of Education and the administration of Frederick County Public Schools have become. Today, I continue in that same vein with the hopes of stirring your emotions to do something. To put your foot down and scream “Enough is Enough.”


We all need to follow through with Letters to the Editors, emails and phone calls to the governor, the State Board of Education, the local school board, the county commissioners and call-ins to local radio programs. The squirrelly board of education is beginning to squirm. Keep the heat turned up.


Flamingo Pools called into the Blaine Young radio show on Tuesday and offered to get the diving boards at cost to help the diving team. (The generosity of Frederick citizens never ceases to amaze me.) I wish the school board and superintendent would take a page from that generosity book. Want to bet there will be some reason they will turn him down.


Those diving boards have been needed for the as long as I can remember; and, now, all of sudden, we have to have them and can’t afford them. Why weren’t they taken care of just like everything else was done for all the other sports? The diving/swimming program has always been the red-haired stepchild of sports here in Frederick schools. Why, I will never understand because it's the one sport that all abilities can achieve some degree of recognition.


It's also a wonderful cross-training sport if anyone in any other sport could think outside the box. Think about the endurance it could give track, football, basketball, long distance runners, etc. There is no other sport that wouldn't benefit from diving and swimming.


The water can accommodate so many physical challenges that other sports can't support. Mark my words, cut diving and it will be the first step to cutting swimming. If our school system has its way, all water sports will be gone and no pools will exist. Let them try and cut football and see what happens. I hope all athletes band together and support these divers.


The school board never want to fund their own Other Post-Employment Benefits (OPMB) obligations, but they now jump at funding and super funding their own building – and a couple years in advance to boot. Who will benefit from the interest earned from those millions sitting at SunTrust? I’ll gladly take the interest from several millions for a couple years, how about you? What could that money do for school children?


The school board is worried sick about the county paying them interest and if they will be cheated on the value on a 3-acre parcel of land they have next to the Hayward Road building the county would like to use for a fire station. The county paying the board of education back for that land is stupid. All the buildings and land should be returned to the taxpayers and not re-bought and paid for again with our own money. The county owns the property, not the school board.


When, or if, it’s sold to outside parties, I really wouldn’t have a problem with the school board getting some of it. That is only after they throw open their books and show the public exactly where every dime is spent and why? No more school system accounting used. I want it simplified so anyone can read it and figure it out. Not one single time, I’m talking change of policy, forever.


Our school system’s been working on this Fiscal Year 2010 budget for nearly six months, and as late as March, knowing full well we were in dire straights this budget year, submitted a budget over $500 million and renewed the superintendent’s contract to a tune of $300,000 plus per year, escalating each year with total protection for the superintendent, not the school system. The superintendent made a hell of a sweet deal. The school board, which was elected by voters, totally caved and sold taxpayers out. An inside contract, written on the inside, by the insiders.


With those practices, how can we ever expect to be protected? How can the school board have a contract written to protect the system when the superintendent is writing it?


I witness new school board members bringing things up and get brushed aside as if saying: We’ve done it this way for years and you’ll see how to play the game eventually.


New blood can bring new questions that need answers, not dismissals. I watched school board members Kathryn Groth, Angie Fish, Michael Schaden and Donna Crook get shut down. First silenced and then followed by speechless, blank looks. Quickly the subjects are changed and President Jean Smith moves the conversation along to another topic. It’s quite a song and dance to watch; and it’s very well practiced.


After seeing even more proof this school board is spending the county taxpayers into bankruptcy, I'd recommend parents and children not spend one single cent out of their pockets for any of it and submit waivers for all expenses. Parents and children are being bullied into supplementing the school board’s budget.


The icing on the cake is that the State Board of Education is just as bad. It denied every single county that put in for a waiver of Maintenance-of-Effort funding this year. It even denied the county that had the support of the local school board. The denials were for lack of proof.


Hello, look around, no one has any money. What other kind of proof do you want?


If this isn't setting everyone up to do the bidding of the elitist state and local school boards across the state, I don't know what is. Every single complaint you have about the local school board should also be sent to the governor and the State Board of Education.


Where I hold fault with the county commissioners is when they constantly make (what I’d call “idle”) threats and never follow through. I never once expected the State Board of Education to grant the waivers, but steps needed to be taken and that was the first one.


If you are a person who cares about children, you will use the links I’ve provided and let the elected officials and appointed ones know that you've had enough. There is also a summary of school board responsibilities to refresh your memory, or shock you, depending on your perspective.


After hearing the school board and superintendent accuse the county staff of doing their best to discredit them, I’ve got a suggestion. Let’s switch staffs for the summer. Send the school board’s to the county and vice versa and tell them both to find the money and account for it all. Maybe Frederick County Public School’s staff can find waste on the county side. I’ve no doubt what the county staff will find.


…’til next time



Footnotes/related links:


BOE Governance Team (summary; go to link for full copy)


Policy Makers The Board of Education sets policy not otherwise controlled by federal and state laws. It reviews and approves local education budgets for funding by the Board of County Commissioners and oversees expenditures from county, state and federal sources.


Our Mission: We set the standards for public education. Policy Makers The Board of Education sets policy not otherwise controlled by federal and state laws. It reviews and approves local education budgets for funding by the Board of County Commissioners and oversees expenditures from county, state and federal sources.


Superintendent As the chief executive officer of the Frederick County Public Schools, the Superintendent serves as the system’s curricular, fiscal and community leader. The Superintendent is responsible for assuring that the school system carries out Maryland public laws relating to schools, the Maryland State Board of Education’s bylaws and policies, and the local school Board’s mission, goals and policies. The Superintendent also serves as secretary-treasurer to the Board of Education.

Frederick County Board of Education contact info



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