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May 31, 2012

Wants v. Needs? The Victor Isnít Predictable!

Joan Marie Aquilino

Dear Frederick County Board of Education members: Please start explaining your thinking to the taxpayers of this jurisdiction. You spend our money with reckless abandon, and we deserve – at the very least – to know on the record why you are doing it that way.


At your last meeting, the wrangling about the “resource raise pool” of money was comical, if it wasn’t so very sad. You were more concerned with spending possible ’found’ revenue for raises instead of dealing with immediate and vital needs within the system first.


Getting – or not getting – raises should not have been the focus. What is important is not doing anything prior to meeting the children’s immediate and vital needs.


The issue is the priority that you gave to wants as opposed to needs. Many may say that a raise is a need, but it’s not first when it comes to bathroom facilities for the children, and the fact they are missing out on educational time because of it. Those in charge of educating our youth should be teaching by example rather than showing them the way to ensure debt. Spending and allocating monies prior to even knowing if you’ll have them is the sure way of teaching our youth how to be fiscally irresponsible.


We’ve got teachers holding work to rule strikes. Frame it however you want, but it’s a strike. Umm! Are they hedging bets or threatening? Neither seems very far off from the “bullying” that the school system claims is wrong (and I agree) on all basis. Is this a “do as I say but not as I do” rule? Pretty difficult to hold others, especially our children that are learning from your example, to rules you don’t honor.


When did the Frederick County Teachers Association, the Parent Teacher Association, Frederick County Public Schools, and, last but least, the Board of Education itself, all become one single organization. When the school board president, who happens to be a teacher, shows preference and defends the teachers’ union in a public meeting, we have some major problems, the least of which is looking out for the whole of our school system, which means watching out for the children’s needs first instead of the union’s demands.


There are so many issues but I’ll just spotlight this very simple one for brevity. The children at Urbana Elementary School need bathroom facilities. They don’t just want them; they actually need them according to all involved. The lack of them is now adversely affecting their education.


The problem as stated by both the school board and the members of the public is: Children in the school system need bathroom facilities.


The solution implemented by the school board’s majority: Take any and all extra monies and deposit them into the Teachers/Staff resource raise pool first and wait to see if they can find other money down the road for the bathrooms for the children at Urbana Elementary.


What I’m hearing by your action is this: Our Board of Education will fund “wants” prior to “needs” because it’s much easier to beg for money to fund needs after all other monies have been spent in less desirable areas.


What is being heard loud and clear is that ‘we’ll get more public sympathy and then they (the public) will put pressure on the county commissioners to fund it for us. The public forgets quickly why we don’t have the money. They forget where it was actually used. All we have to do is threaten that it’s for the children and then just sit back and wait. The public will do our bidding.


This all reminds me of the Whimpee line from the old Popeye the Sailor cartoons: “I’ll gladly pay for a hamburger tomorrow if you give me one today.” I’m sure that’s not the exact quote but it’s close. It’s even worse though because the school board never pays. It’s you the taxpayer who is always paying and paying and paying.


Am I foolish to even think that the onetime found $800,000 and the $3.2 million money pots should first address the bathroom facilities problem for the children at Urbana Elementary School? Or that maybe, just maybe, if other money just happens to appear (like it always does when it comes to school system budgets) use those funds for either one time bonuses (if they’re one time monies) or raises for teachers and staff. Might even show the fiscal responsibility of giving those bonuses or raises to those most needy and hit the hardest from the economic downturn of the last few years.


Before you say, Joan, just stop it. You are being ridiculous. Think about this, please, because this isn’t a first or a one and only. This is the regular course of business you on the school board are famous for taking. You talk about children coming first and then do exactly the opposite. Your feet need to be held to the fire for you are in charge of what is being taught to our children whether it is from the classroom teacher or those hiring and making the rules.


Advocating in word only for our children needs to stop today, and those abusing this authority over our children need to be held accountable. Used properly, a half a billion dollar budget should fund the needs and then with the extra money found at the end of each year, work on the wants.


A last thought, unrelated, to a degree: Unions are what they are and I’m not saying do away with them. But don’t you think it would be more reasonable and fiscally responsible as well as helpful to separate the overly intimate relationship between Frederick County Public School and the Frederick County Teachers Association if those wanting to be members of the teachers union made their union payments directly to the union all by themselves instead of mandated automatic payroll deductions?


Unless things have changed recently, the union president is also paid though a school system check from union money. It’s all just too squishy cozy a relationship for my liking. If it walks like a duck …………………


. . . . .'til next time . . .


As always, I’d love to hear from you; so, let me know what’s on your mind by emailing, or contacting me directly at


“Just Joan” saying, be safe and “don’t believe everything you think.”


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