We have cut all we can cut without affecting the quality of the education your child receives in the classroom. So say officials of the Washington County school system, who are campaigning hard for a tax increase and a greater share of the county government's budget. Now it's up to them to make that case with citizens at tonight's 7 p.m. public hearing at Hagerstown Junior College.
The commissioners have already given their tentative agreement to a hike in property and income taxes that would help produce about $1.9 million in new money for the schools. But school officials say that would leave the system $4.2 million less than it needs to fund its $104 million budget.
What will that mean to the average child? In a March 16 column in The Herald-Mail, School Superintendent Wayne Gersen said that the only areas left to cut are those that will affect children in the classrooms. Class sizes will increase, fewer electives will be offered and the best and brightest teachers will continue to teach locally only if they can't shift to another system in the region that is paying higher salaries. In tonight's hearing, Gersen and company have to get even more specific, pointing out their contingency plan - and they must have one - for increasing class sizes should their requests be denied.