The job of the Frederick County commissioners is to wisely use the tax revenues they collect for the good of the citizens of Frederick County. The decisions they make have a direct impact on the quality of life in our county. Wise investments have positive impacts far into the future. Shortsighted and overtly political decisions lead to greater future costs and missed opportunities to improve our quality of life and economic competitiveness.

The Board of County Commissioners has funded our highly regarded school system at the lowest level allowed by law for five years now. Maintenance of Effort (MOE) funding assumes no increases in funding for inflation, unfunded mandates, employee compensation or strategic initiatives. For these reasons, cuts to current education programs and services have to be made under MOE funding. Sadly, a majority of our commissioners remain publicly committed to continuing this inadequate funding, despite the slow but steady economic recovery, including increasing county revenues. In fact, overall county spending has increased, while education funding has remained stagnant.

Shortly after the fiscal 2014 budgeting process ended, County Commissioner President Blaine Young stated that our schools would receive MOE funding again in fiscal 2015. A majority of the board apparently believes the county should under-fund education without considering revenue projections for fiscal 2015, and without any consideration, or even discussion, of the educational needs of this county. It appears Commissioner Young and his supporters on the board use ideology, not information, when it comes to funding the school system.

It is my hope the county commissioners reconsider this approach. They should reserve judgment on the allocation they make to the Board of Education until the board creates a budget and makes the case for that budget. They can then make an informed and fair decision that considers all the needs of the county, including those of the school system. The Board of Education has made do with stagnant budgets for five years now. They have deferred employee pay raises, cut 12- and 11-month teachers back to 10 months, eliminated positions, cut spending on materials, such as paper, and increased employee contributions to benefits. Unlike county employees, school employees have not gotten a cost of living adjustment in five years. In the same five years, employee contributions to pensions have increased. In the 2012-13 school year, teachers and support staff were even furloughed as a way to finance a partial step increase (county employees received a full step increase with no furlough the same year). Demands on the schools are increasing, not decreasing. Teachers are constantly being told to do more with less and expectations on both educators and students continue to rise. As Commissioner Young stated in a Sept. 27 News-Post article, “We have required and asked our (county) employees to do more with less. If we do not have some type of reward for them, it’s common sense that you’re going to have issues.” Doesn’t this obvious point also apply to school system employees?

It is time for the county commissioners to see that education is a legitimate area of investment for this county. It is time for them to see that MOE funding is actually a cut to the school system’s budget. It is time for the commissioners to treat the Board of Education and their employees fairly instead of punishing them for political reasons. It is time for the commissioners to stop playing politics and put the needs of students and educators before their political motivations.

Gary Brennan

is president of the Frederick County Teachers Association. He writes from Walkersville.

(66) comments

hescominsoon

we don't need more funding. We need to cut the top tier salaries to something reasonable and stop blowing money on technology. These taj mahal buildings are wasteful. Stop just throwing money at it..we can literally cut 50% off the budget if we quit wasting so much. The question is do we the people have the will to cut the waste and get back to basic teaching?

Mmadono

Everyone is getting sick of this blatantly false arguememt year after year. The BOE determines if there will be a COLA, not the BoCC. It has to be be budgeted. Likewise, county employees dint get a COLA if the BoCC doesn't budget it. Both parties have an idea of how much they will get, and adjust accordingly.

This blame game if MOE has been going on for years. You will get over 50% of my taxes, work it out! People have no empathy for you

watson4sherlock

It really is quite simple, tell us what you can do at MOE to graduate the greatest possible number of students from high school. Then tell us what it will cost to something extra and we'll decide if we want to pay for it. Use student first language not teacher first language.

darththevader

The BoE FY14 operating budget request asks for $21,600,000 more from the County (9.1% increase) and $4,400,000 from the State (1.7% increase). This is to cover 141 projected additional students.

Why not ask the State for more?

watson4sherlock

Why ask for what you can't get?

darththevader

Not going to get it from the BoCC but still asked. And then make the County out to be the villain while the State is throwing millions at other counties to put in artificial turf fields.

Not one trip to Annapolis at budget time though. The people the teacher's union push to get in office are doing nothing for education in return

watson4sherlock

Where is the criteria published for setting MOE?

As I recall artifical turf is cheaper than maintaining natural grass so it would be the best choice for building or remodeling sport fields which is paid by the building fund not from MOE.

watson4sherlock

Found something to reference. Maintenance of effort only requires the funding level be maintained not that all the programs be maintained at the funding level. So teachers whinning about COLA did you get your stipend too?

State Aid for Education Increases in Fiscal 2014: State aid for primary and secondary education increases by $230.8 million in fiscal 2014 to a total of $6 billion. Despite the recent enactment of laws constraining State costs for teachers’ pensions, retirement costs make up more than 40.0% of the increase in aid, at $97.5 million, while aid provided directly to local school boards increases by 2.6%, or $133.8 million.

Exhibit 6 shows the four-year cohort graduation rates by county for the 2012 cohort. Carroll County had the highest rate, greater than or equal to 95.0%.

Limited English Proficiency ($16.0 Million Increase): The LEP formula provides additional funds based on the number of students for whom English is a second language.

Early College Innovation Fund ($2.0 Million Increase): This new initiative will support an expansion of early college access programs that provide accelerated pathways for students seeking career and technical education or training in science, technology, engineering, and math disciplines.

The number of teachers receiving funds through the program has risen dramatically in recent years, as the number of schools identified as having comprehensive needs under the NCLB increased. Exhibit 13 shows the number of teachers receiving APC stipends between fiscal 2010 and 2013. Over this period, the number of stipends more than tripled, increasing from 1,650 in fiscal 2010 to 5,863 in fiscal 2013.

See http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/pubs/budgetfiscal/2014fy-budget-docs-operating-R00A02-MSDE-Aid-to-Education.pdf

h4rdh34d48

What difference does it matter where they get it from? We are paying for it either way.

jerseygrl42

you must know this is typical of bureauracy ...they ask for more than they need as they know it will be cut...but the request is always for more ....never for less

watson4sherlock

So we are just suppose to give teachers pay raises and except the fact that our students will suffer for it?

Frederick County Teacher Bachelor's Degree Minimum Step 1...$40,706
.........................................................................................Step 15 $57,374

See http://www.marylandpublicschools.org/NR/rdonlyres/CAFE5C56-843C-4D45-8DDB-D7D26146E60F/25636/salsch12.pdf

kjswartz

Accept, not except

darththevader

[thumbup]

watson4sherlock

“Nothing is unfixable, except the fact that you're gone”

― Rick Riordan

watson4sherlock

Corporate sponsorship doesn't have to mean plaster posters in the hallways. Gee didn't Ausherman build your science center for you?

The average social security beneficiary only receives $1,230 per month. How much does the average teacher receive?

kjswartz

Aushetman didn't build anything for me.
But you did have to make that corporate plug, eh?

watson4sherlock

Better put on your Ausherman sweatshirt and start hanging those Ausherman posters in the hallways.

The Ausherman Planetarium is located at the ESSL.

See https://education.fcps.org/essl/

kjswartz

Apples and oranges, Watson.
Pure class warfare drivel.

A teacher put in the work in their chosen career to graduate from college, put in their classroom time, and only then apply for open teaching position in a highly competitive field - all the while being saddled with choking student loans and making ends meet just like you and I.

I can empathize with those still struggling teachers. It is obvious you do not and will not. $42,000 in 2013 dollars is all you can grasp. That was the same as offered in 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009.

$42,000 from five years ago is what they will be paid in 2014-2015 school year.

Hard working teachers should be appreciated and rewarded for their excellence; to do otherwise is a disservice to our next generations who should be THANKING us for our stewardship and not dissing us in our senior years for delivering advertising riddled, poster filled, video game based physics and World of Warcraft placed social studies classes.

watson4sherlock

Maybe the teachers who are disappointed with their pay can find a job in Wisconsin. It is what it is. Maybe you can squeeze your COLA from a stone.

kjswartz

Still no empathy, eh?

watson4sherlock

Do teachers have empathy for the parents who are just making ends meet or do they still want their COLA? Empathy is a two way street. I don't think so. Give me, give me because I'm more deserving than you.

watson4sherlock

All those good for nothing, wealthy parents; 25% of FCPS students receive free or reduced price lunch.

If the waiter writes on the bill I would have a great job if it wasn't for the customers what kind of tip is he going to get?

If the teacher's advocate writes in comments teachers would have a great job if it wasn't for the students and parents what kind of raise should she get?

Sorry to disappoint you but teaching is a service profession.

darththevader

Being a teacher doesn't make someone a protected class. Regardless of the vocation their are struggles, student loans, competitive fields, etc.

You can't just look at the starting salary without looking at benefits, increases not based on merit, and not even working a full year.

It's a lot better deal than many private sector first year jobs

kjswartz

... And worth every penny!

watson4sherlock

Then lets pay them in pennys.

watson4sherlock

Then the teachers can squabble over who gets the old pennys that actually contain copper and are worth more than a penny.

jerseygrl42

"wisely use" is a dangerous phrase Gary ....you need to answer the question " on who's behalf" and theirin lies the tale.....lets look at $101 Million the county taxpayers will owe for a private entrance to a so-called Tech Park which is nothing more that another box development of houses 12 to an acre or so...or how about the $57 Million value of Montvue being sold to aurora for $30 mil with a $10 Mil kickback, or how about $21 Mil loan to Buckinghams Choice and who pay that back if BC goes belly up....yep you guessed it , the taxpayers , and how about the hundreds of millions in infra structure improvements the taxpayers will have to pay for if the 8,300 homes are built in Linganore and monrovia, ...and last but not least that $50 Million edifice that took taxable property off the rolls in downtown Frederick for a grand office complex for the school board, while children are being educated in dozens of trailers all around the county....why is it you choose to speak only about the self -interest topic of salary increases ....lets discuss the profilgate waste going on county -wide Gary

soule1061

I heard or read somewhere that the new Frederick High School will have an indoor olympic-size swimming pool. If this is true, we must ask ourselves: Should public school facilities be gilded palaces providing amenities that will only be used by a few students? Government is not a hole in the economy into which taxpayers throw money.

watson4sherlock

The last I read was there was going to be no pool because it would cost $5 million.

See http://www.fredericknewspost.com/news/economy_and_business/business
_topics/building/article_e578bed5-f7ab-50ef-9c59-1739d25b55f7.html

theenolagray

I believe the following column responds best to all my right wing friends out there:

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/12/21/in-no-one-we-trust/?ref=opinion&_r=0

johnqFrederick

Take a look at all the taxes and fees collected by the State and then look at Montgomery, PG, and Baltimore City --- the good of the citizens? Quality of life? A resounding no -- otherwise -- why all the issues with their crime, problematic public education, hunger, housing, --

No thank you -- the schools have what they need -- so keep it simple

thump1202

BoE is no sacred cow and cannot repeat their for the children nonsense and expect results in today's economy. everyone has to pay more for less, BoE has to learn to live in this reality just as the teachers have had to with their salaries not increasing at the pace of inflation similar to all working class. throwing money at problems does not solve them.

darththevader

Why doesn't Gary ask the BoE to spend their money more wisely? Or ever ask the State for more money? FY14 the BoE proposed cuts at the teacher level reducing supply money and such. No complaints from Gary then. Where were the complaints when the State shifted the pension costs to the County? No LTE from Gary about that.

Just because it's not everything you want doesn't mean it's underfunded. Everything is never enough to the Union and they'll never complain to or about their friends in Annapolis they all vote for

watson4sherlock

I support asking the BOE to live within a budget just like families must. But the state MOE only funds a minimus of education; the minimum requirement to graduate students from high school.

Frederick County funded $1 million to install wifi in the schools to benefit the students who could afford a device because it was beyond the scope of MOE thus propetuating educational inequality. You don't think there are other educational programs that are beyond MOE?

So lets say you wanted to attrack industry to Frederick County. Having a high school program that trains welders might help the sales pitch. But rather than create seperate but equal programs, I'd rather see high students using the programs that are available at Frederick Community College. But to access those programs might require tuition assistance for high school students.

darththevader

The WiFi funding was not part of what was in MoE.

They do have programs that teach welding and many other vocations already at CTC at the FCC campus.

watson4sherlock

Exactly my point Darth, WiFi is beyond MOE and so is Welding. The only thing MOE pays for is the minimum education needed to earn a diploma.

If the Frederick BOCC is interested in expanding job growth they need to look at funding educational services that support job growth in an industry and it becomes part of the package that is presented to industry to relocate here.

watson4sherlock

It might be cheaper to close the CTC and contract with FCC to provide the training.

darththevader

WiFi was a one time contribution. If it was made part of the operating budget it would have to be part of future MoE calculations.

CTC is NOT above and beyond MoE. It's a regular FCPS program

watson4sherlock

Electives are beyond MOE if they are not required for graduation.

watson4sherlock

So Darth do you understanding why funding WiFi for students who own devices contributed to educational inequality?

jerseygrl42

some interesting point from this mystery person

president8444

Gary ,how about the stae sell the PRO STADIUMS in Baltimore and stop giving millions to ravens and O's for our schools. OH no we love Ravens and O's ,kids oh well.Sad are we.aslso Obama and Kerry still giving billions to foreign countries 6 billion realeased by Obama to Iran ,not for uis.sad bunch.Wasted on others,not our schools.

watson4sherlock

I found the Maryland Stadium Authority's 2012 Annual Report. Looks like they get $17 million from the state and $1 million from the the city. But they manage more than just the Ravens and Orioles Stadiums.

The Office of Sports Marketing was created by the Maryland Stadium Authority and Department of Business and Economic Development in 2007 to attract and promote sports events and recreational opportunities throughout the state.

See http://www.mdstad.com/pdf/2012-annual-report.pdf

Ed Morgan

This is the same letter Theresa Alban wrote on December 1. And the answer to yours is the same as to hers...we're tapped out. There is no more blood left in the turnip. Dump some of the bureaucratic froufrou jobs like Assistant Principal and Curriculum Specialist.

It is cowardly of you both to write these letters without saying what you really mean, and that is to raise property taxes on the middle class. You expect the BoCC to do your dirty work and you get to then spread the "street money" around to your favored politicians. Montgomery County is the poster child of why both of you should be fired for lack of leadership ability.

normalperson

The BOE needs to really address all funding and look at the cuts that are needed inside the FCPS system. There are to few teachers and too much administration inside that needs to be cut. Lets get back to teaching and cut the other stuff first. I would like to see how much of the $500 mil plus is actually used for teaching. Why not cut all the sports programs and save that money for teaching kids to read,write,and math. I not saying just cut the teams but all required gyms, football fields, baseball fields etc etc etc. I bet we can hire a whole lot of teachers for that money.

kjswartz

Sterilize the learning experience, huh?

kjswartz

I can see watson's confusion. I forgot a ? mark.
Let me rephrase my earlier statement.

"Better yet, you want to homogenize the classroom experience"

kjswartz

Better yet, homogenize the classroom experience.

Comment deleted.
kjswartz

Weird comment to make from someone whom I believed had a decent education.

Preaching the Peter Principle to a new generation, eh?

If a student can't perform to their grade level's standards, they should be held back until those core competences are achieved.

To do otherwise would be cruel to the child, and gives unreal expectations once they graduate.

Comment deleted.
kjswartz

Besides, once they age out of the system, those with an eight, ninth or tenth grade education can still try for their GEDs.

Comment deleted.
kjswartz

My comments have always been for expanding the school experience. To give children a taste of what awaits them in the real world.

One plus one plus one can equal one item that is a sum of its parts. Unfortunately children are taught 1+1+1=3, and the lesson ENDS there.

The clubs will be the next to be sterilized, followed by honors societies, yearbook (not looking like mugshots), dances and social gatherings.

Get rid of football automatically eliminates the reason for homecoming

Proms, graduation, heck, we can sterilized the entire school experience to create a generation of World of Warcraft, gun toting welfare patrons.

That's a bleak world you're proposing, Watson!

Comment deleted.
watson4sherlock

Seems like your world is much bleaker. Holding students back then releasing them to take the GED. You can't homogenize students and you can't homogenize the classroom experience. Each student is different and has different needs. Cookie cutter architecture doesn't work in education.

Comment deleted.
kjswartz

What point are you trying to make here?

Cookie cutter?

I'm all for EXPANDING the classroom experience

You keep arguing about eliminating the times to apply classroom knowledge

Comment deleted.
watson4sherlock

Where?

watson4sherlock posted at 11:23 am on Sun, Dec 22, 2013.

Posts: 10528

So are you going to homogenize the students too? Maybe you could just hold them back in the grade where they rise to their level of incompetence and hold them there until they age out of public education.

Comment deleted.
watson4sherlock

Cookie cutters make everything the same shape and the same size. Education has to be individualized to fit student experiences even beyond what language is spoken in the home. Example some students have never seen a cow and think milk comes out of jugs purchased at the grocery store.

h4rdh34d48

Please show us something that shows that there is a correlation between the amount of money spent per student (public schools only please) and their learning. If you want more money for education (code for teacher salaries) then reduce the amount that is spent for administrators, reduce waste, etc.

Give me a minute to grab my chair and a bowl of popcorn.

kjswartz

Or, more to the commenter's point, increase the class sizes.
The more students being taught at would be okay, if I understand the commenter correctly.

watson4sherlock

Paying teachers more doesn't give them more time or decrease class sizes. We need more teachers paid at the current rate of pay to accomplish anything.

kjswartz

Ain't gonna happen, just on your say-so.

Teachers salaries will need to rise with COLA, just to attract new teachers at reduced salaries.

kjswartz

It's paying that Cost Of Living Allowance that seems to stick in your craw.

watson4sherlock

There are many people who have no pension who are waiting for COLA too. Teachers in Frederick County were already among the best paid in the country. You probably don't realize the GDP per capita has been going down since 1999. You can't expect tax payers to fork over what they don't have.

watson4sherlock

FCPS should look at getting some corporate sponsors. That's where all the money is.

Corporate Profits Are At An All-Time Record Peak At 70% Of GDP

See http://www.forbes.com/sites/robertlenzner/2013/11/30/there-are-far-fewer-bears-on-the-stock-market-today-than-at-the-peaks-in-2000-or-2007/

realitychecked

@Watson, the problem with that is that Frederick has chosen to put all of its eggs in the government basket shunning the free market like the plague. As a result there is really no reason for any company not similarly dependent on government to even consider the existence of the area, much less put any skin in the game. All Frederick has is government and the barnacles attached to it. Perhaps if the area was not so unfriendly to the non-government free market things would not be so bleak.

The part that I have never understood is how a place based almost entirely on government spending and retail sales can ever hope to rise above end user tax revenues.

kjswartz

I was wondering when someone was going to suggest selling out food services and naming rights to indoctrinate our already obese children.

Really smart idea! (tm) (c) 1859

But why stop there? Movie theatre posters with the latest blood & guts & steamy teen sex scenes plastered in every hallway. Video games adverts pasted to every students' desks.

It is a bleak world you are proposing, Watson.

kjswartz

And, last I heard, Social Security recipients received five COLAs while Frederick teachers waited for a single one. Teachers better resign themselves to larger classrooms with more frequent disruptions if they want a pay raise.

kjswartz


http://www.ssa.gov/history/briefhistory3.html#colas

2009 & 2010 were the only years that did not pay out a COLA; but the years before & after had doubled the recent years' COLA.

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