My name is Julie Kingsley. I am a resident of Mt. Airy and I am a candidate for the Board of Education in Carroll County. I am here tonight to voice my support to the Board of Education and our schools after the recent joint committee meeting with our County Commissioners. It was apparent from the meeting that our county Commissioners are unaware, or uninterested, in how minimally funded our schools have become. It is time we put a stop to the notion that there is significant waste left in the system. I applaud your direct and honest assessment that additional cuts would come at the expense of our children and teachers through educational reductions and even worse teacher compensation. Thanks to the many cost savings measures you have taken over the past 5-6 years, school system expenses are under control and waste has been virtually eliminated. It is now apparent that the largest contributor to the projected funding gap is now insufficient funding from our Commissioners.
Our Commissioners point to a lack of county revenue as the reason they are unable to provide adequate school funding. What the commissioners don’t seem to understand is that by investing in our schools we will increase revenue to our county. Our local schools can have a tremendous impact on the economic viability of our county by putting out a high-quality product that attracts businesses and residents to our county. Many studies have shown that creating a high quality school system is one of the best, if not THE best, way to create an economically thriving county. Carroll County’s own studies have shown that our county would receive significantly more than $1 in county revenue for every $1 spent on local education. This is why we cannot continue to look at our schools as an expense. We have to start recognizing them as an investment, one that will actually improve our county’s revenue and viability. While it is true that we should run our school system as efficiently as possible, it is a fine line between efficient and inadequate. We are bordering dangerously on inadequate, especially if we continue to rely solely on budget cuts to solve our problem.
In the discussion yesterday, I heard one commissioner say that he believes we should cut future funding by $1000 per student. It is irresponsible to make this statement without considering the educational impacts of this. This same commissioner suggested closing even more schools (beyond the stated target of 5), raising class sizes, laying off more teachers, reducing the already insufficient amount of resource teachers we do have, and many other cuts that would negatively impact the quality of education. It is obvious that our current capacity does not match our enrollment. However, the notion that we can continue to downsize easily, shifting our kids around from one school to another, is flawed. It is not that simple. Not only is our county geographically large, but our small towns and municipalities are what attract people to this county in the first place. By closing down more and more schools, we not only send the message that our county is going out of business to the new families and business that might have considered moving here, but we also break up the communities that make our county attractive to those potential new comers in the first place.
So Mr. Guthrie and the Board of Education, I ask you to please continue to spell out ALL of the needs of our school system. The question was asked last night, what do other counties do in terms of spending? Let’s answer that question. Spell out clearly in the budget all the ways that our school system is falling short of our neighboring counties. Don’t simply request the bare bones needs of adequate teacher raises and inflationary costs. Communicate the cost of catching the teachers up a step or two. Communicate the cost of giving them adequate professional development. Communicate the cost of increasing special ed and gifted and talented programs. Communicate the cost of offering computer programming courses in every high school. Let the community and the commissioners know all of the ways that we are falling behind our neighboring counties. Our teachers and our children should not pay the price for our county’s inability, or unwillingness, to adequately fund our schools. It is the responsibility of our county Commissioners to find ways to generate revenue and return to making education our number one priority.
For more from Julie: http://www.kingsleyforeducation.com/