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Area residents will rally for school funding in Annapolis

January 21, 2004|by Scott Butki

scottb@herald-mail.com

About 85 Washington County residents are to travel to Annapolis next Monday to participate in a rally calling on the state government to provide promised education funding, Washington County Teachers Association President Claude Sasse said Monday.

The rally is in response to concerns about cuts in state education funding this year, Sasse said. Despite having a tight budget, the state government could find money for education if it wants to, he said.

The timing of the rally -- early in the session of the Maryland General Assembly -- is no coincidence, he said.

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Two school buses will take Washington County Public Schools employees, representatives of the League of Women Voters and other education advocates to Annapolis for the rally, Sasse said.

He said the rally is being organized by the Coalition for Public School Funding. The group is made up of more than 30 organizations, including the Maryland State Teachers Association and the Maryland Association of Boards of Education.

In 2002, the legislature approved large increases in public school education funding under the Thornton Commission recommendations. The $1.3 billion cost is due this year.

The increase included an extra $23.1 million for Washington County Public Schools over six years.

The Maryland General Assembly approved the Thornton plan in 2002 without a way to pay for it over the long term. A cigarette tax increase covered only the first 18 months of the proposed increases.

The county school system expects to get about $9.2 million in new funding from the state this year because of the commission, and if it does not get it, it will cause budget problems, Edward Forrest, president of the Washington County Board of Education, said Monday. Forrest said he plans to attend the rally.

Board member Roxanne Ober said that while the school system hopes to get full funding from the state, when the district's finance committee meets Thursday it probably will discuss how the proposed budget for the next fiscal year would have to be changed should that not be the case.

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