Financial roads lead away from county schools

September 06, 2004|by TIM ROWLAND

Schools or roads, schools or roads. Come on, can't I have both? It's really inconvenient that Commissioner John Munson is asking us to choose one over the other, because it pits my own personal benefit against the greater good. And when that happens, the answer is likely to be - well, sorry kids.

J-Mun said last week that roads in Washington County don't receive enough funding and that schools receive too much.

"I want these roads repaired," Munson said. "If we need to cut the Board of Education a couple of dollars ... we got to do it."

Munson's stated funding priorities are: 1. Sheriff's Department. 2. Roads. 3. Schools. This makes sense, because when you stiff schools, you will need a bigger sheriff's department to round up all the kids-turned-criminals whose futures have been shortchanged.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for the jailing of our youth - and I suggest we start with those kids who ride around on scooters propelled by those loud, two-cycle, string-trimmer motors. But I know the tree-hugging, bleeding-heart-liberal element in the community will be all up in arms, and you know that I don't like to offend liberals.


But roads. That's so seductive. If a kid has to suffer just so I can get where I'm going 90 seconds faster, that's a trade-off that really puts the screws to my conscience.

It's kind of like the dad who eyeballs his kid's college fund and thinks, "You know, I could really use a boat."

So there was a severe temptation to move over to J-Mun's side until I saw the story that ran the very next day. I had no idea that by "roads" Munson meant a NASCAR track. If we build roads, I want them to be the kind that get you someplace. If I want to go in circles, I'll call the voice mail at Microsoft's tech support.

As I've said before, I hate NASCAR because I want to love it, but can't. I know it's the fastest-growing something or other, but if they go more than 10 laps without a crash, I start zoning out, and until they begin letting a deer out on the track every so often, I'm afraid I can't stay with it.

I don't begrudge people who do like NASCAR, though. It's like J-Mun himself said, "(NASCAR) is not a bunch of rednecks. If it was, I wouldn't be there."

Um - OK, moving right along ...

There is a win-win out there, if anyone besides myself is bothering to think about it, and that is to put school children to work paving the roads.

J-Mun probably reckons that 30 percent or so probably will end up as laborers anyway; let's cut to the chase. School just delays the inevitable, so why the delay when these children could be out earning cash as we speak?

The beauty is that with a third of the students filling potholes, the two-thirds who remain in the school system actually will have more money spent on their educations, per student, than they did previously.

Can't you see? Making roads a priority will actually increase the amount we are spending on your child's education. Well, at least unless your child is part of the highway gang.

And who decides which children are given the advantage of an education and which children are sent off to perform hard labor? Well, if nobody else wants to, I will.

I can judge a child's potential just by looking. I'll sit there as they walk past me single file with my scepter going, "College. College. Road crew. College. Road crew. Road crew. County Commissioner. Road crew ..."

Of course the commissioners and City Council members might be discussing this proposal as we speak, we just wouldn't know about it. The Triumvirate of Four that's been secretly negotiating over city-county relations may be way ahead of me.

For their own sakes, I hope they are. It would be so much more interesting than arguing over sewage capacity. Speaking of which, I don't know why that is even an issue. The county lacks capacity at its sewer plant and wants to use the city's?

The way things have been going, it seems to me the county could just dump it straight into the Antietam Creek and cut out the middle man. I'm sure the city has some extra "Warning: Contaminated Water" signs to lend.

And I'm sure we could find some kids to put them up.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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