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What Do You Think?

October 29, 2009

Editor's note: The Herald-Mail invites readers to answer poll questions on www.herald-mail.com. Readers also may submit comments when voting. A sampling of edited reader comments will run on The Herald-Mail's Opinion page on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday.

The question posted Monday was: How could Washington County Public Schools reduce spending?

Poll results:

Freeze or cut pay -- 80 votes (10%)
Layoffs -- 24 votes (3%)
Ask for benefit concessions -- 15 votes (2%)
Delay building projects -- 257 votes (33%)
Use energy-efficient devices -- 96 votes (12%)
All of the above -- 228 votes (30%)
None of the above -- 15 votes (2%)
Something else -- 58 votes (8%)

o "A pay freeze is more reasonable than pay cuts. Pay cuts are not productive to a strong economy and can compound our economic problems. It also makes it difficult to keep teachers, especially in fields where they can get higher pay in private industry. Delaying new school construction is a solution that will work if you make improvements in existing schools. Classes of 30 to 40 students in a room built for 20 students is a real problem. It might have worked well 50 years ago, but kids today have changed and discipline is not what it used to be. Education isn't cheap, public or private. You only get what you pay for and then it isn't a guarantee that the students will learn."

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o "Good luck getting any meaningful cuts to actually take place in the Board of Education. If one project gets cut, the BOE will demand concessions on a different budget item. Our local politicians, who are weak in the knees, can't win any budget battle with the BOE."

o "Is building a $25 million school right now necessary? Especially when it seems most of the community is against it? There are all kinds of upper-level management that has lost their jobs in all kinds of different fields. Is anyone really going to make a case that we need to have all kinds of officials at the BOE making more then $100,000? How about a $90,000 cap on salary at the BOE. Even if some did leave, is someone going to tell me that there aren't a lot of capable teachers who have the necessary degrees and qualifications to step in?"

o "The major concern should be to minimize the impact upon the students and upon the education they receive. It is penny wise and pound foolish in the longer term to make cuts that negatively impact the quality of education. Layoffs of teachers that increase class size would have a negative impact. Having said this, in these rough economic times, teachers and other Washington County Public Schools employees should at a minimum accept a pay freeze. Everyone needs to share in the pain to some degree."

o "If the survey is anything like this poll, then it was done for nothing more than show. You cannot actually expect citizens to put into a survey how cuts to a budget should be made without letting citizens see an actual budget. That is absurd. It's the blind leading the blind. You can not just make a judgment call on spending reductions from a poll or a survey."

o "Pay cuts and layoffs for administration only. Not teachers. They do not receive enough pay for this most important of all careers. Administrators do not deserve/have not demonstrated their worthiness of such high salaries."

o "Washington County Public Schools staff members have 10 professional days in the school calendar where students are scheduled to be off school, but staff members work. Couldn't a few of these days be used as unpaid furlough days?"

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