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School Board must keep the lines open

May 02, 2002

A day after The Herald-Mail quoted members of the Washington County School Board who were hoping that the county commissioners would fund a greater share of their budget, the paper reported that the system was now going to hire a deputy superintendent, a position vacant for more than a year.

The reaction from the county commissioners was predictable, with Paul Swartz saying he was under the impression that the position would not be filled for another few years, with the School Board making do with executive assistants.

Likewise, the School Board members quoted Monday on the budget were also under the mistaken impression that a new state grant of $2.1 million would not be a substitute for county money, but an addition to it. Commissioner Bert Iseminger called it a "difference of opinion," but it's clear that in both cases, there was a communications failure.

The deputy superintendent's position will not be the budget buster it might seem, because much of its salary will be covered by the retirement of an executive assistant whose job will be eliminated when he retires. What the commissioners - or any elected official for that matter - doesn't like is to be surprised on these matters.

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For example, some members of the Hagerstown Council were upset when Community Rescue Service decided to purchase a vehicle from Smithsburg at the same time it's asking the city for more funds.

Now after the matter was explained - the vehicle was a bargain that replaced one that was worn-out and it generated some new volunteers for CRS - everything was fine. But some advance notice to the city would have been the better way to go.

The School Board cannot make headway if it doesn't keep its funding agency aware of what it's doing. And if it isn't someone's job to keep the county aware of what's going to happen, it ought to be, because these little misunderstandings can get in the way of real progress.

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