February 3, 2016
Dear Superintendent Guthrie, Board of Ed members, and Commissioner Rothschild,
My name is Rita Misra. I have lived in Mt. Airy for over 20 years. I am the parent of two CCPS graduates and one child currently attending Carroll County Public Schools. I am not employed by CCPS.
After poring over Mr. Guthrie’s proposed 2016-17 operating budget and related information, I must say, I am completely underwhelmed.
Given the trauma inflicted on communities across Carroll by last year’s desperate rush to close numerous high-performing schools in response to what has been, by all accounts, consistent gaps in funding brought on by the slow and predictable creep of declining enrollments, outdated State and local funding formulas, and poorly conceived tax cuts which undermined our County’s ability to benefit from regional economic recovery, I naively hoped that the concessions and sacrifices made by those who serve our children were not in vain.
This budget falls short. In particular:
- This budget assumes that $5M will be gained by closing 3 schools, yet improvements to some of those schools are included in Section V, the 5 year capital plan. Are we to assume there are no costs to taxpayers associated with abandoning or maintaining these public facilities for other use?
- This budget fails to account for the obvious adverse effects associated with closing schools and redistricting even small children miles from their communities and their homes.
- This budget fails to demonstrate whether the proposed increases in salaries will be sufficient to attract and retain experienced teachers.
- This budget fails to demonstrate that the proposed level of funding will be sufficient to prevent additional school closures until a better process can be developed and the effects of the first round of closures have been fully analyzed.
- Most importantly, this budget fails to demonstrate that the proposed level of funding will be sufficient to improve the delivery of instruction so that confidence in our public schools can be restored.
As you know, closing or inadequately funding fully functional schools in great communities like mine (communities which are poised to support residential and economic development with access to public water, roads, employment opportunity, commercial activity, emergency services, recreation, etc. etc.) can tear those communities apart, disrupt the lives of thousands of children, and undermine the ability of the County to increase its tax base, which will invariably cripple revenue streams and reduce quality of life.
So once again, I URGE you to work quickly and openly with staff, the public, and representatives at all levels of government, and INSIST that funding be provided to CCPS at a higher level – a level that will actually retain teachers, improve instruction, and allow more time for you to develop a more reasonable plan to deal with declining enrollments and close only those schools that are clearly underutilized and/or in desperate need of repair, as per criteria outlined in State guidelines, and supported by mature data and a thorough analysis of costs.
An adequate level of funding is ESSENTIAL to maintain the quality of our system now and encourage families and businesses to come back.