Last night the county council had a very nice public hearing on the county’s contribution to the FCPS budget. Budget guru, Rick Harcum, did a great introduction in which he had some very reasonable and optimistic things to say about the school budget. He let us know that:
- Good schools increase property values.
- Education is the #1 priority of county residents as evidenced by online surveys and public hearings.
- We are funding schools $25 million above the Maintenance of Effort (MOE) requirement.
- Because of the improved economy, school construction is coming in cheaper than expected. Thereby opening the door to more building and renovation.
Mr. Harcum ends his statement by saying the future looks good. And we all got here by working together! We are almost giddy at this point!!!
The hearing commences with Board of Education President Brad Young, Superintendent Alban and Frederick County Teacher Union President Melissa Dirks. Ms. Alban states what we all know to be true, that the most important factor in any classroom is the teacher. A fact that is then reiterated by the many wonderful members of the public. Teacher salaries factor predominantly in the comments as well as the importance of support staff. We are oh so thankful to ALL the school employees who make sure that our children are not only educated, but also well taken care of while they are at school.
The meeting concludes, as always, with council member comment and man we always tense up during this part. However, we got off with only one hitch! Tony and Kirby pass! Jerry thanks everyone for coming out and then we are off to Debbie Downer! Billy is disappointed. Disappointed that WiFi isn’t in the budget, even though every school already has it. But not only WiFi, no money seems to be devoted to technology. According to Billy, and these are his words folks, “If a kid can’t use a device every minute of their life they won’t do good in the workforce.”
Jessica and M.C. also give thanks to those who came out. Bud informs us that he was really surprised when he found out that we were losing teachers to Washington County. And you know why folks? Because they pay better! We need to make our salaries more competitive if we are to get that most important factor in educating our children: TEACHERS!
This week is chock full of budget meetings. On both Wednesday and Thursday of this week the council will be meeting with various departments to hear their needs. Next Tuesday, there will be a discussion of which amendments the council would like to add, with a final vote scheduled for May 16th. Hopefully “somebody” won’t waste everyone’s time with an alternative budget this year.