The friction between the Worcester County Board of Education and County Commissioners over a fiscal year 2008 financial overrun has led to the school system creating a contingency fund.
Several commissioners scolded school board officials, notably Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jon Andes, last month after they were informed about more than $385,000 in overruns that needed to be funded for the school board to end the year with a balanced budget, a matter of law in Maryland. According to state law, a local school system may not have a deficit and in the case it does a “corrective action” must be developed after the superintendent makes the affected agencies aware of the situation.
At their meeting last month, the commissioners, specifically President Virgil Shockley, went so far as to tell school officials they would not fund another similar request in the future. Therefore, the school board has created a $1.2 million contingency fund to address the inevitable overruns over the next 12 months.
This contingency fund is another way of saying reserve fund, which most government agencies have as a back up in the case of an emergency. This makes perfect sense and should allow the school board some flexibility when it comes to unforeseen expenses in the future and perhaps alleviate some of the pressure between board members and the commissioners. What will not help make the situation any better is the letter signed by six of the seven elected school board members blasting Shockley. We understand why this letter was drafted, but we question whether it’s going to cause more harm than good in the long.
Both sides have said they want to move on and get past the stalemate, but the school board’s letter whacked Shockley around pretty well, and Shockley has made it clear he’s unhappy with the Board of Education and has made some strong comments in recent weeks. This discourse needs to be put to bed and perhaps a face-to-face meeting between the commissioners and the school board is necessary.
It’s a tad cliché, but these two bodies need each other and they have to be on the same general page. They need to move on past this disagreement, put down the poison pen and get rid of the forked tongues. This is not the first time the two groups have had problems with each other, but this squabble has spilled over into the public arena and is front and center. It’s a worthwhile debate because education is big business in this county, but it’s time to reconnect and remember the big picture. This back-and-forth, he-said, she-said type of squabbling needs to stop. A meeting may be the best step in putting the sour feelings involved on both sides to rest.