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February 18, 2013

Another Common Sense Proposition Shot Down

Cindy A. Rose

Frederick County Board of Education rejects $138 million dollar return. Will that be the headline in The Frederick News-Post, or will our current education leaders have the courage and fortitude to do what is right for the students, staff and our over-taxed neighbors here in Frederick County?


In case you missed it, during the February 13 school board meeting, parent Kristen Eddins made a brilliant and viable suggestion to the board. She proposed Frederick County Public Schools hand over the responsibility of maintaining health benefits for our public employees to the State of Maryland through the soon to be established insurance exchange.


Our school system spends over $150 million on health benefits for its employees. If it did place its benefited employees on the state exchange (due to be up and running in 2014), it would still have to pay a fine of about $12 million. Surely they would rather spend $12 million on fines in order to recapture $138 million to put toward the children?


The benefit to Frederick County Public Schools is $138 million dollars a year (roughly). That’s not a one-time savings; that’s a recurring revenue stream.


Of course, it’s only recurring if our majority liberal school board doesn’t decide to blow it all at once. If they are responsible and frugal, they could give modest raises to all employees and still have tens of millions of dollars every year to earmark to the needs of our children.


“Needs," not the “wants,” of overzealous bureaucrats and administration types. Fix a toilet, replace some electric, replace some rusty pipes, and pay for sports fee instead of asking our students for them. The school system provides cars to employees, but requests students pay fees for their education. It could upgrade a computer, buy a decent text book, tell the federal government we don't want their food subsidies and serve food in the cafeteria the students will actually eat and enjoy. It would finally have some money to do the things parents have been begging for – for decades. Do things that effect our children directly and immediately.


Teachers’ union president Gary Brennan’s immediate reaction during that meeting was puzzlingly negative. The National Education Association (parent group of the Frederick County Teachers Association) “… worked closely with the Obama Administration to make sure this law passed, so that tens of thousands of families could no longer be denied insurance.”


Part of its position on the Affordable Health Care Act said the “(the NEA) is committed to health reform to ensure that every person in America has quality, affordable healthcare coverage. Not only is this a moral imperative, it is a key component of controlling spiraling health care costs.”


Now, unless they don’t care about Frederick County Public Schools “spiraling health care costs,” I’m not sure why Mr. Brennan would be against the shift in who administers the health benefits. No one wants to take the benefits from them, merely shift the responsibility.


Not only did the NEA work hard to bring this legislation into law, but I’ve no doubt it recognizes and approves of the cost savings to be had by being a part of the state insurance exchange.


The teachers’ union’s website impresses upon the public: “… FCTA establishes and maintains collaborative relationships to build a community committed to the educators and students of Frederick County.” It works to “eliminate barriers” and pursue “… policies which establish and maintain programs and services supporting quality public education…”


Surely $138 million back into the hands of the students, teachers, aids, support staff, etc., is a cause it would – and should – support!


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