Letters to the Editor 3/3

March 02, 2001

Letters to the Editor 3/3

Wivell: What I told state officials our schools need

To the editor:

I thought I would share with your readers my testimony of Feb. 21, before the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee. The purpose of the testimony was to speak in support of portions of SB719 to provide adequate state funding for education. (It might be noted that several areas of SB719 benefit only Baltimore City and Prince Georges, Montgomery and Baltimore Counties):

As a commissioner, we are faced with many of the same problems at the local level that you are faced with at the state level - requests always exceed revenues.

I am not here today asking for new programs; I'm not particularly interested in full-day kindergarten; I would just like to see adequate funding of existing programs.


I have often compared spending levels to the consumer price index, that is, holding spending increases to no more than the rate of inflation; in the case of state funding for operations of our local board of education, I would just love to get the state commitment up to the rate of inflation.

In Washington County, we have a stagnant growth in student population. For that I am grateful. But, that condition penalizes us under the state funding formula.

Last year, excluding the governor's teacher salary initiative, Washington County received a 0.27 percent increase in educational funding from the State - that is, less than $140,000.

In fiscal year 1996, county and state funding of our Board of Education was $47 million each.

Today, Washington County funds our Board of Education at $66 million annually and Maryland funds $53 million annually - a $13 million spread on what was once a 50/50 partnership. $76 million (62 percent) of the county's $122 million general fund budget goes toward education.

Washington County raised tax rates last year to generate an additional $4.5 million in annualized revenue; an additional $4.2 million was granted to the Board of Education.

Washington County is currently looking at a school consolidation scenario involving 10 schools in an effort to generate some internal funds. The proposal offers to save some $1.6 million annually, but will require some up-front capital expenditures, if implemented.

Washington County is in a difficult situation - 18th in the State in terms of average household effective buying income, and within minutes, one can be either in West Virginia or Pennsylvania.

Washington County cannot continue to raise taxes at the local level. We need your help. Whether it be through the passage of SB719, SB768 or some other bill, State assistance with flexibility and without mandates is a key element of that success. Thank you.

Bill Wivell


Washington County

Board of Commissioners

Writer missed key point of Keto letter on Interstate crash

To the editor:

Dennis P. Leatherman's "Police were in the right" letter on Feb. 21, exposes his total lack of comprehension of Mr. Keto's letter published on Feb. 15.

Perhaps Leatherman's allegiance to the law enforcement community clouded his reading of Keto's letter.

Leatherman then used editorial space for a diatribe toward this other letter writer. Mr. Leatherman should have concisely replied to Mr. Keto's concerns so that Keto would no longer be "grossly ignorant" as so labeled by Mr. Leatherman.

Contrary to Leatherman's statement, Keto did not state a dislike for the police. He did, however, question this paper's incomplete coverage of a terrible crash.

Would it not have been more accurate had the reporter investigated the entire accident, as opposed to parroting a police report?

If the facts were obtained only from police records, it follows that the article may very well be biased in favor of the police. To produce a balanced article, The Daily Mail should have critically analyzed and researched all venues for information about this unfortunate accident.

After re-reading Keto's letter and reconstructing the accident, it is obvious that there are indeed details that need clarification. The Daily Mail reported the who, when and where of this accident.

However, the "why and what" coverage was inadequate for one to completely and correctly understand what happened.

This lack of information could lead readers to perceive the article as biased, or even worse, a cover-up.

In summary, Mr. Leatherman has misconstrued Mr. Keto's skepticism as an anti-police attitude.

Karlen Goerner


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