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September 23, 2013

Why Support “Maintenance of Effort?”

Cindy A. Rose

It would be appreciated if the Frederick County Board of Education and the superintendent, Dr. Theresa Alban, would stop blaming the Board of County Commissioners for the budget pinch and start looking in the mirror.


Frankly, they aren’t cautious or careful enough on how the money it receives is spent.


I support the county commissioners and their Maintenance of Effort funding. Here’s why (some names have been changed to protect the ridiculous).


Superintendent Alban has nine cabinet members with combined wages of $1,379,726 (including Dr. Alban). Their benefits packages: medical $6,914.64 each per year; dental $345.72 each per year; and if they receive dependent medical benefits add another $6,183.84 per year, per person.


Add to that another $718,628 for the other six top administration positions plus the same medical benefits and we are talking over $2.2 million for 15 people, an average pay and benefit package of $146,667.


There should be a voluntary wage freeze for anyone in the top 15 positions at Frederick County Public Schools until such time as private sector wages catches up to these ridiculous public sector wages.


When Steve Hess, the school system’s director of Research, Development & Accountability, retired he was earning $137,045 plus benefits after 28 years in the position. His replacement was not someone who worked under him, but a new hire from outside of our school system. She is “starting” this position at $131,961. Mr. Hess was in this position well over 10 years, to make this kind of money.


There were six people working alongside Mr. Hess in his office. Why weren’t any of these individuals promoted to director? Were they asked? Each was earning under $100,000. Why wasn’t a modest increase in salary along with a promotion in order for any of them? Why a new hire?


Why not promote from within?


When our school system hired the very friendly and, personable Michael Doerer off the streets and created his position of Director of Communications Services, he started with a whopping $127,498 plus benefits. His predecessor was earning just under this at slightly over $123,600.


Frederick County Public Schools is not a Fortune 500 company. It is funded by the taxpayers of Frederick County, the state and federal governments. Almost every dollar it spends is a tax dollar. The majority of its budget goes to wages and benefits (estimated at around 80 percent).


The school board rarely cuts a person from employment. Don’t be fooled when you hear “eliminated a position.” That’s a “position” like chief printer. Chief printer goes the way of the Do-Do bird, but Jane Doe who was the chief printer is now the assistant to the Director of Audio Visual.


Ask school officials where the persons filling the eliminated positions have gone. Well, you’d be better off asking where Jimmy Hoffa is, or what are Twinkies made of. The response I received is “we don’t keep track of those things” (paraphrased, but I have the e-mail if you must see it). How can they honestly not know where the person was (re-)assigned?


So Sally Doe is no longer a food service worker and has been lost in the halls, or among the abandoned, outdated technological equipment and desks in some outpost known as the warehouse. Don’t worry, Sally, help is coming, we will find you!


Our school board and “professional” staff continue programs they are told are ineffective and increase the budget by tens of millions of dollars with one-time funds without knowing where the money will come from next year.


Unless and until the Board of Education and Frederick County Public Schools get their act together and start being more responsible with funding, I will continue to support maintenance of effort funding.


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