Letters to the editor 7/25

July 25, 2002

McClure speaks without the facts

To the editor:

The public is well aware that, on occasion, I have been critical of the school system's actions. For that reason, it is only fair that I also give credit to the system when credit is due.

In a recent profile in The Herald-Mail, one of my opponents, Wallace McClure, stated that the school system should not just keep "asking for more," but trim existing expenses to fund its budget. McClure needs to do his homework, or at least attend county budget hearings, since the school system has done just that this year.

In fact, during the final budget deliberations, the commissioners publicly praised Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan and the Board of Education for submitting a modest, realistic budget request. We also commented on the board's new budget format which was clear, understandable and "citizen-friendly." In all my years of being associated with the board, this was the best budget document I have read and I believe my colleagues felt similarly.


When the commissioners made their final budget decisions and, due to our lower revenues, did not grant the board its full request, the board accepted it without a lot of moaning and groaning. Morgan, her staff and the Board of Education rolled up their shirt sleeves and went to work to balance the budget. They declared that there would be "no sacred cows," and as it should be, put everything out on the table for the public to see and deliberated in earnest about what to cut.

To their credit, the board and superintendent managed not only to balance the budget with minimal effect on students and give teachers a much deserved raise, but also preserved resources for initiatives such as improving the high school academic program and making needed repairs to older school buildings. The board and staff also eliminated 12 administrative positions, such as the principal of the Fairview Outdoor School, combined other positions, which I had called for, and made carefully thought-out moves so that students were not affected in any significant way.

This "redeployment," a military term that seems appropriate for the public schools, of existing staff and resources from one area of the school system to another is a welcome change in the way the Board of Education is doing business.

For example, instead of asking for additional positions for enrollment increases at the middle and high school levels, the superintendent and her staff redeployed positions from the elementary level that has decreased by 400 students to the secondary level where it has increased by the same amount. Much like the military, the troops were moved to where they were needed. As another example, the Fountaindale program for academically talented students was funded, in large part, by not filling the vacant positions of two Quest teachers.

Again, when the school system is doing something right, it should be recognized for its efforts at reform. Gratuitous criticism is misleading to the public and unfair to our hard-working public servants.

Commissioner Paul L. Swartz


Too much pain

To the editor:

Does Washington County really need a new hospital or expand the one they have? Why do the mayor and council have to put pain for gain on some poor soul, by using eminent domain that has not been used for many years? Councilwoman Nigh seems to be the only one thinking positively.

If we have a new hospital I would think prices will rise for care. There is enough physical pain, mental pain and financial pain already for the sick to gain relief.

Look for other areas to park. When the Suns leave Hagerstown, or get a new ball field, Municipal Stadium would make a great parking lot.

People could walk or bike for exercise, or have a taxi or bus service for those who need it. Save a lot of pain for gain whatever it may be. We don't need another empty building like the many others in Hagerstown.

George E. Lashley


Evaluation form is a matter of public record

To the editor:

Interestingly, but not surprisingly, for a man who demands "accountability," Tom Janus is employing neither facts nor data in his determination that the School Board does not hold the superintendent and her staff accountable. Her contract, the basic contents of which were published in a Herald-Mail article immediately following the February signing, reveals that the evaluation would be based on "specific measurable outcomes" to be determined between the Board of Education and her at a later date.

On July 9, the board and superintendent met in executive session for the express purpose of conducting Morgan's evaluation as stated in the publicly distributed agenda. She was evaluated based on accomplishment of the seven priority objectives agreed to mutually and announced to the public almost one year ago.

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