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February 25, 2010

It's time for a BUDGET Revolt

Joan Marie Aquilino

The Frederick County Board of Education was offered a solution to overcrowded schools and they refused it. It even went so far as to sidestep any meaningful conversation, citing a lack of agenda notice and preparation.


Exactly what do they need to prepare, either you want a solution or you don’t. The school board doesn’t! Instead it chose the path that, according to the Board of County Commissioners, allows overcrowding.


The one simple indisputable fact is that it wants a larger and larger student base because that pads its Maintenance of Effort money. It fears losing any control over those funds. It is what directs the board’s every move. The more children they can put on the books, the better for their perceived budget woes and their ability to hoodwink the public into opening their tax pockets and paying higher taxes and fees.


If it truly took well over $12,500 to educate your child, then the school board would have jumped on the offer to stop overcrowding. No, instead the members stood in its way and will be the reason for its failure. ‘It’ is the Countywide School portion of the Adequate Public Facility Ordinance (APFO).


Notice how the school board members talk of how bad it is to increase class size, but when literally given the opportunity to solve the issue, they refuse. If the county took away overcrowding it would destroy all the budget arguments the Board of Education has used for decades.


I’ve watched too many times when, with the swipe of a pen, every school in Frederick County that was once under capacity at the beginning of the week immediately becomes over capacity and overcrowded and thus demands money to build new schools by week’s end.


* * * * * * * * *


Now onto the school board’s "Stupidendous" Budget Stimulus and the farce presented at a called a public hearing.


As is always done, the Board of Education has orchestrated its divide and concur musical very well. It's so blatantly obvious; and yet they still pull it off.


How and why you might ask can they get away with these games. Think about it for a moment. What could be more emotional and tug at ones heart strings more than the desire to see our children get everything we can humanly give them? Every parent worth their salt wants exactly that and there is where you find the school board’s power. It uses the desire of parents and classroom teachers alike to hold them hostage with the threats of cuts to do their budget bidding. The Board of Education has grown too large and arrogant to control its own spending. We need to take that control back.


This nonsense needs to stop immediately. Of course, it cost money to educate children and hire qualified teachers. What moron wouldn't know that? How much and where that money is directed is the question.


That is also the question that the school board refuses to answer. It must have that disease, I think it’s called Kaigitagious; symptoms are verbal overspill, total absence of substance, and a proclivity to announce that anyone who disagrees is lying. Hopefully the health department will soon be offering vaccinations because I’m told it’s highly contagious.


Go to the next meeting and ask how much something cost. Just pull anything out of thin air and I seriously doubt you'll get an answer. If the members speak at all, you might hear: “We don't have that cost because it's rolled into such and such.


Baloney! The school board is a government agency and it is spending your money and it is required to answer your questions with respect and knowledge. You, the public, get neither. Just look at how it treats those who make public comment at its meetings, a perfect example of disrespect.


When you seek the true cost of education and you get the run around, it demonstrates a lack of knowledge. The other train of thought might be that it has the knowledge but is hiding the answers. Either way, you and I, the public, are out of the loop and being played the fool.


Go to the end of the public hearing for the school system’s budget and watch the last couple of comments. Honestly it reminds me of an old insurance scam. Jack up the costs and when the commissioners whittle it down, you'll still be ahead. These are some of the very same people wagging fingers and scolding elected officials about how they need to work together, yet they literally throw fuel on the fire to aid in animosity already existing.


Parents, students and teachers, I appeal to you to step outside the personal and very intimate world of your school, your neighborhood and your child(ren) and hold the Frederick County Board of Education’s feet to the fire and fight for the rights and education of all children.


Until we fight for all children the school board will continue to divide, ultimately winning and have us fighting each other instead of them. Don't fight the individual cuts. That is how they distract you. It’s nothing more than smoke and mirrors.


Fight for it all by demanding the Frederick County Public Schools’ budget is zeroed out and they account for every single cent they are spending, not the cuts they threaten.


From the $300,000 superintendent contract to the site-based monies of individual schools, to the money no one seems to be able to account for, grants, stimulus, to the waste in bus use, to the real, true and full cost of their new office building with its accompanying parking. There is no reason the parents, teachers and children can't have it all, and have it all well done, to the benefit of students and classroom teachers.


They waste so much time playing the excuse game that questions never get answered and accountability is never provided.


Have you had enough? When that answer is yes by the vast majority, we might have a chance of gaining control once again. It’s up to you. Find me on Facebook and let me know.


. . . ’til next time…..


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