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Lawmakers absent from meeting with Washington Co. School Board

November 18, 2008|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- Only two of eight members of Washington County's delegation to the Maryland General Assembly were present at a joint meeting Tuesday with the county's School Board.

Del. Leroy E. Myers Jr., R-Washington/Allegany, and Del. Andrew A. Serafini, R-Washington, were the only two present. Several lawmakers, including Del. Christopher B. Shank and Sen. Donald F. Munson, both R-Washington, sent representatives. Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington also sent an aide in his place.

Del. Richard B. Weldon, an independent who represents Frederick and Washington counties; Sen. George C. Edwards, R-Allegany/Garrett/Washington; and Sen. Alex X. Mooney, R-Frederick/Washington, did not attend or send an aide.

Washington County Board of Education President Roxanne R. Ober and member Bernadette M. Wagner also were absent.

School Board Vice President Donna Brightman said the date of Tuesday's meeting had been changed several times, which might have affected availability. The meeting was scheduled in order to discuss the School Board's priorities for the upcoming legislative session in Annapolis, which begins in January.

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Both groups also met in the spring.

That discussion did continue as planned Tuesday, and both sides focused on anticipated state budget deficits that could affect local funding.

"Any kind of bill we would bring that would have a fiscal note ... that's just not going to work," Serafini said. "We have to dig our heels in. We need you to speak with one voice and prioritize for us. Everybody is facing cuts."

He said local communities would need to fight for what they can get.

Brightman suggested meeting more regularly with the delegation than the School Board has in the past, perhaps driving to Annapolis for meetings on Wednesdays or meeting locally on Mondays throughout the session.

"We're trying to be in close communication," she said.

The School Board's priorities include securing adequate funding for educational programs for students and for building projects in 2009.

The School Board has made the following items its priorities for the upcoming legislative session:

  • Sustain the current level of education funding for students

  • More equity in funding among school districts

  • No more unfunded mandates from the state

  • Opposing a change to collective bargaining

  • The School Board is seeking $13.1 million in funding from the state for new school construction

  • The School Board is seeking $3.78 million in funding for modernization of existing facilities

  • More green buildings

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