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Board of Ed shrinkage has sizeable merit

January 21, 2003|by TIM ROWLAND

I agree with Jim Kercheval, who wants to reduce the size of the Board of Education to a more manageable number. The number zero comes to mind.

Kercheval has set his sights a little lower, calling it progress if the board would only shrink from seven members to five. I suppose that's a start, anyway.

At the very least, two fewer members would reduce the "Board Members' Comments" portion of the meetings - in which each board member is allotted an infinite amount of time to tell the public that she favors education, but has concerns about the hot lunch program - by 90 minutes.

Besides, we're halfway there, as it is. There's already one vacant seat on the board, and the six remaining members seem to be worrying along all right without a seventh.

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All we need to do is leave this vacancy unfilled, then have the remaining members draw straws to see who goes.

Well? It's not as if people are lining up to serve. In the last election, only three people filed to run for the three open seats, and there has been much hand-wringing over why no one wants to serve on the school board anymore.

As if that's a tough question to answer. Frankly, it's a lousy job. After about three months of listening to angry parents, you need to keep a Prozac salt lick under the desk just to make it through the day.

And for this angst, the job pays all of $13 a day. That's six times less than the County Commissioners. In fact, the commissioners got a pay RAISE this year that was more than twice as much as board members earn the entire year.

Oh, but there was news on the County Commissioners' salary front last week, too, when Commissioner John Munson suddenly couldn't remember/won't say what lawmaker ostensibly told him the commissioners' $10,000 pay raise was irreversible.

J-Mun made a campaign pledge to give back his $10,000 raise, but once in office changed his mind because he said he was told by a local lawmaker it couldn't be done. Well, that was one of the excuses he gave. There were several others.

Unfortunately for J-Mun, Del. Bob McKee called his bluff last week, saying the delegation would be happy to rescind the commissioners' pay raise - all they needed was a formal request.

As of this writing, that request has yet to show up in the lawmakers' mailbox.

So, being a helpful person, I would like to help.

Clearly, in his heart, John Munson does not want to take $10,000 more of your money, but he's having kind of a hard time putting his feelings into the right words to present to local lawmakers.

Lawmakers say they can't in good conscience eliminate the commissioners' pay raises without some form of "formal request."

Well, last time I checked, local lawmakers were always happy to accept "formal requests" from the public at large since, technically, that is who they serve.

I think Munson just needs a little nudge, and if any Actual Citizen out there were to make a "formal request" to the county delegation to eliminate this $10,000 pay raise - and demand it be put to a vote - I'm certain that J-Mun would travel to Annapolis to enthusiastically support the measure.

Any Actual Citizen can mail this request to Delegation Chairman Del. Bob McKee at 321 Lowe House Office Building, Annapolis, MD 21401-1991. Or if you really want to be a stinker, you can send it to Mr. Anti-Tax-and-Spend himself, Sen. Alex Mooney, 420 James Senate Office Building, Annapolis, MD 21401-1991 and see if he'll put his budget cut where his mouth is.

And, of course, if you need help drafting the letter, I'd be more than willing to pitch in. I can be reached at Tim Rowland, c/o North Pole.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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