Board of County Commissioners Statement on Boundary Line Adjustments and School Closures
Westminster, MD
11/06/2015 10:20 AM

Given all of the concerns related to Boundary Line Adjustments and School Closures, the Board of Commissioners wants to unanimously clarify its position relative to this process.

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The objective is to improve the quality of education and the morale of our classroom teachers. We believe significant strides can be made by reducing excess facility capacity, increasing efficiencies, and redirecting savings into salary increases for teachers and classroom personnel.

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This Board of Commissioners appreciates the hard work and difficult task the Board of Education, Superintendent, and Boundary Adjustment Committee are embarking upon. We understand you have inherited challenges that have accumulated over many years.

 

Circumstances that brought us to this situation are complex and include but are not limited to the following: School enrollments are down 20% below capacity, and will decline another 5 to 10% within the next ten years; The shift of State Teacher Pension of $7M a year by the State to the County; Construction of a High School without state aid because of inadequate enrollments; Reductions in state education funding to Carroll due to declining enrollments; and limited growth due to economic conditions and environmental regulations. Regardless of these circumstances and the history behind them, we need to work together to address teacher compensation issues.

 

A first step toward addressing the challenge requires the BoE and Carroll County School System to work through their process of boundary line adjustments and school closures in order to reduce costs and improve efficiencies.

 

We recognize this is the BoE' s responsibility and process. However, based on public feedback, the Board of Commissioners, as the primary funding-arm of the school system, believes it appropriate to weigh- in with the following concerns: 

  • Proposals that extend the consolidation process over multiple years place increased strain on our citizens, students, and teachers.
  • Not performing a comprehensive system-wide redistricting will yield insufficient savings.
  • Creative, substantive alternatives such as repurposing a school for different grade levels or combinations of grade levels should be considered.
  • The decision of which schools to close should take into consideration all potential costs including the cost of repairs, modernizations, remodeling, and refunds to the State.
  • Resulting school utilizations after redistricting should leave sufficient reserve capacities for future municipal growth (Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance).
  • CCPS needs to make a concerted effort to reap additional operating and personnel efficiencies as part of the closing and redistricting process.
  • Decisions during this process should specifically address the problem of attracting entry level, and retaining mid- level teachers.

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One of the initial recommendations by the BAC reflected a savings of $7M. However, this would not be sufficient to address salary issues. Therefore, our ability to help close any gap requires the Board of Education to go further, by also restructuring to realize operating efficiencies as a result of redistricting.

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We have already voted to allow CCPS to reallocate these savings to teacher and classroom personnel pay scale issues.

 

Finally, whereas CCPS enrollments will continue to decline, the majority of members of the Board of Commissioners are not likely to support substantial tax increases. Increases to CCPS funding will likely need to come from economic growth or the State. For this reason, it is imperative CCPS comprehensively reduce its cost structure to parallel enrollment declines

 

We know this process is painful but necessary. However, we firmly believe the end result will lead to better compensated teachers and classroom personnel, and a higher quality school system.

 

Ageed, this,5th day of November, 2015 by the Board of Carroll County Commissioners.

Commission- Steve Wantz • ( D- 1) Commissioner Richard Rothschild ( D- 4) • C-ommissioner Dick Weaver (D-2) • Commissioner Doug Howard ( D- 5) • Commissioner Dennis Frazier (D-3)

Reference
Deborah Lundahl
410- 386-2043
 
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