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School Board says full funding vital

April 09, 2003|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

The No. 1 reason why the Washington County Commissioners should fully fund the Washington County Board of Education's general fund operating budget request of $7.1 million is because "We deliver consistently," said Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan.

In a joint public hearing Tuesday night at South Hagerstown High School on the School Board's budget request to the county commissioners, School Board members presented an overview of the budget implications of the federal No Child Left Behind act and the outline of the school system's Master Plan for the next school year.

The federal act is designed to close the achievement gap between schools and make sure all students, including disadvantaged groups, are academically proficient.

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Morgan listed the top 10 reasons the county commissioners should fully fund the budget. Another reason, Morgan said, is "contrary to public belief, we're efficient and a lean and mean operation. We do much more with less than any other school system in the state and we feel penalized for doing so."

School Board Member Roxanne Ober stressed to the commissioners that the federal act does not also come federally funded.

Ober said the state's commitment to give the School Board $6.7 million is in jeopardy.

Commissioner William J. Wivell asked Ober if she knew why the state money was in question.

She said she was hesitant to say whether the money is guaranteed at this point.

Among the more than 200 people in attendance, Claude Sasse, president of the Washington County Teachers Association, expressed his support for a fully funded budget.

Rescued Prisoner of War Jessica Lynch joined the military to become a kindergarten teacher, he said.

"What a vision," Sasse said.

It's the same vision that fuels Washington County teachers to do their jobs, he said. But with the county's teachers receiving the third lowest salary in the state, they often are forced to look elsewhere for employment, he said.

Danielle Greenwald, an aspiring teacher and South Hagerstown High School graduate, spoke highly of the education she received in the county's public schools, but said the school system's paychecks and conditions are going to force her to look down the road for a job.

Greenwald is interning at Lincolnshire Elementary School. "It hurts my heart to see what these teachers are going through," she said.

Boonsboro parent Michael Showe shared Greenwald's sympathy for teachers, whom he sees trying every day to make an effort to educate his child.

Showe presented to Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook a thick packet of letters from the Boonsboro community requesting full funding of the budget.

"Students depend on education to give them a fulfilling life," he said.

Roger Stenersen, Clear Spring Middle School principal who has three children in Boonsboro schools, said on top of financial support from the county commissioners the school system also is asking for political support.

Opinions voiced in the past by County Commissioner John Munson that public schools should be eliminated is not an idea to which all the county commissioners or the School Board subscribes, he said.

"With the right to free speech comes responsibility, in measuring opinion versus fact and in recognizing the effect it has on our students," he said.

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