School board warned against 'impossible' demands

December 17, 1997

School board warned against 'impossible' demands



Staff Writers

In a preemptive strike against "impossible" budget requests from the Board of Education next year, the Washington County Commissioners said Tuesday that they won't attend the school board's public hearing to present their budget next year if it isn't reasonable.

"I think it's irresponsible to waste our time and their time year after year after year," said Commissioner James R. Wade, thumping his desk with his hand. Wade said he wanted a three-year budget plan, or at least a budget request that the commissioners could reasonably afford.


Wade said he was worried that the school board would ask for a $10 million increase in school funding next year, and point their fingers at the commissioners as the bad guys.

Wade asked the other commissioners to consider not giving $750,000 that they had agreed to give the school board for South Hagerstown High School unless the school board cooperates. The commissioners had made that money contingent on a three-year budget plan and a reasonable budget request next year.

But Commissioner Ronald L. Bowers said that would just hurt South High.

Wade and Bowers said that the commissioners should make it clear to the school board that a budget request above a certain level wouldn't be considered.

Bowers said that the commissioners have cooperated with the school board, by giving the extra money for South High and an additional $300,000 for Clear Spring Elementary School. But Bowers said cooperation should be a two-way street.

Bowers also said the school board should cut programs that it doesn't need before asking for more money.

"If you keep adding, they never subtract," he said.

Washington County Board of Education officials were surprised by the comments.

Unlike past years, the school system is putting together a budget that has accountability and priorities, and that is slowing the process down, said Superintendent of Schools Herman G. Bartlett Jr.

"I'm concerned they think that we would not do that in a responsible way," said Bartlett. "It seems less than productive," he said, referring to the commissioners' comments.

Board of Education member Doris J. Nipps said the commissioners rarely attend the board's budget hearings anyway.

"It seems to be a premature assumption," said B. Marie Byers, vice president of the Board of Education.

Board of Education officials said it is hard to tell how much their budget might be.

Bartlett said the board is expected to submit its budget to the commissioners around late January.

The Herald-Mail Articles