Voices From The Readers – July 7, 2023

Voices From The Readers – July 7, 2023

Playing Politics Hurts All
It is unfortunate and sad that of all the items that the Worcester County Board of Education could have reduced or cut in their proposed budget to meet their actual budget was the Summer Academy for special needs and disadvantaged students, as described by the editor of The Dispatch in the June 29 Between the Lines commentary. It appears this cut, among others, was intended not in the best interest of the students, but rather to incense parents to become upset with the county Board of Commissioners for not rubberstamping the School Board’s proposed budget.
As I have read the articles relating the “differences” in budget presentation protocol between the County Board of Education and the County Board of Commissioners, I had to wonder out loud what was the School Board afraid to disclose publicly in a written budget with the same detail as the budgets of all other County Departments.
I was just wondering:
Has the school board ever publicly stated in writing the number of non-classroom administrators and their salaries?
Has the school board ever highlighted the differences between the salaries of the administrators and the salary of an experienced classroom teacher?
Has the school board ever stated in writing the number of “program experts” who work in an office and barely ever see the inside of a classroom and what their salaries are?
Not counting janitorial staff or bus drivers, has the school district ever stated in writing the number of non-classroom staff who service these administrators and “program experts” and what their salaries are?
Has the Board of Education ever publicly stated in writing the number of bonuses or awards, the size of those bonuses and awards, and the frequencies of those bonuses and awards, that these administrators and “program experts” receive – and compared those to the few, if any, bonuses for the classroom teacher?
How about cars either assigned to or available for administrators and “program experts”? Has the Board of Education ever stated in writing how many cars there are, who drives them, why they drive them, where they drive them, when they drive them, how often they drive them and what it costs to drive them – purchase, maintenance, registration, and gas?
Has the Board of Education ever in writing stated the number of “trainings” and “conferences” that the administrators and “program experts” attend and how much it costs for travel, hotels, paid for meals and tuition?

Has the Board of Education ever stated in writing the increase in salaries for these administrators, support staff and program experts who have nothing to do with actual classroom teaching?

If the school board really cared about the students: 1. they would have stopped playing politics and would have provided a detailed budget for the entire budget as required by other departments in the County; and 2. they would found ways other than those that directly affect teaching the students to reduce their expenses – like giving up their cars, their conferences, their training, their bonuses and raises, or even offered a pay cut for the administrators.

You know – there is never a lack of applicants for an administrator and “program expert” position. But it is becoming near impossible to find qualified and dedicated teachers to join the profession and remain in the profession. If a high or mid-level administrator, a “program expert” or even a support staff does not show up at work – they most probably will not be missed. If the classroom teacher fails to report to work – there is no teaching. If one high or mid-level administrator position is deleted – teaching continues. If a classroom teacher position is eliminated – there are more students per class.

I just find it amazing that the Board of Education would refuse to provide detailed budgetary information and then would cut programs that they know will directly hurt the students most and upset the parents most, rather than looking at the expenditures and costs of non-classroom managers. I find it similarly amazing the Board of Education is seeking to renegotiate its agreements with the teachers – blaming the County Commissioners – rather than looking inward at their own expenditures.

How many administrators and non-classroom “program experts” leave their office positions for other professions? Compare that to the number of classroom teachers who leave their teaching positions. It is really a shame that the Board of Education is more interested in playing politics and being a powerbroker than actually safeguarding the interests of the students and the teachers – the teachers being the most significant employee of any educational system.

It will be interesting to see what happens next year whether the school board continues to play politics or whether the school board actually produces a budget that every other department in the county, and for that matter, every agency in the state and federal government, are required to produce.
David Feder
Windermere, Fla.


Offshore Wind Response
A recent letter in this space (“Offshore Wind Impacts On Sea Life, June 23) lamented the impact offshore wind farms may have on marine life.
The letter failed to mention that the commercial fishing industry is widely cited as a top culprit in whale mortalities. The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration states on its website, “vessel strikes and entanglement in fishing gear are the greatest human threats to large whales,” and that, “there is no scientific evidence that noise resulting from offshore wind site characterization surveys could potentially cause mortality of whales. There are no known links between recent large whale mortalities and ongoing offshore wind surveys.” Minimizing impact on ocean life is laudable, and no industry meets more stringent requirements for protected species than the offshore wind industry. Seismic air guns, for instance, are used for offshore oil and gas operations – not offshore wind surveys.
The letter also suggested the Heartland Institute should be considered a credible source for energy policy analysis. Left unsaid was that the Heartland Institute has historically been funded by oil and gas interests like ExxonMobil and Murray Energy, the coal mining company that went bankrupt after persistent safety violations and the tragic deaths of six coal miners. The offshore wind industry is poised to create thousands of family-sustaining jobs in Maryland while powering roughly 600,000 homes with clean, domestic energy. Importantly, they’ll do it with the utmost commitment to minimizing environmental impact.
Only with a clear understanding of the facts can we have a rational dialogue about the industry’s promise in Maryland. Learn more at www.offshore-windalliance.org.
Anna Henderson
(The writer is the executive director
of the Offshore Wind Alliance.)


Survey Merits Attention


If you didn’t notice, on June 15 Worcester County’s planners launched a survey to gather public input as they update the 2006 comprehensive development plan now used to grow the county.

The comprehensive plan is a foundational planning document. It is used to support zoning decisions, development priorities and county budgeting for schools, parks, police and fire services, water and wastewater systems, roads, trash, and all public services.

The planners do talk about following the plan, but it is a tough job. Too often achieving growth means giving a Worcester Wink to the plan’s goals as the county’s political bosses listen to the promises of more revenue made by bankers, developers, and promoters.
A top to bottom review of the county’s goals, objectives and priorities is long overdue. We also should be looking at the planners’ accomplishments and how infrastructure incentives are used to help developers and promoters. We need to see that they really are paying the county for the full impact of their ventures.
This last stormy budget session demonstrated our fiscal and growth policies are out of balance: we are struggling to pay for how we have grown. We’ve been betting profits from tourism and real estate development would trickle down, filling the tax coffers sufficiently to more than offset the public investment in roads, sewers, police and other services the promoters and developers need. The efforts to balance the books by jiggling money to offset a structural deficit suggests someone should pay more, including Ocean City.
This comprehensive plan update process is so important I wonder why county officials decided not to spend a few dollars on stamps so every resident voter could receive an official letter that includes a link to the survey (www.SurveyMonkey.com/r/WorCoCpSurvey). You can bet the business community will be shaping the update.
When you complete the survey, ask yourself if you are happy with the way our tax dollars have been spent. Is the congestion on Rt. 589 a planning success worth repeating on Rt. 611 near the airport, or at the Rt. 611 intersections with Synepuxent or Assateague Roads? Is our zealous pursuit of more vacation housing making our roads unsafe while the County whines about the State Highway Department’s responsibility to provide traffic lights?

When you complete the survey, also ask yourself if the focus on growth and promoting tourism is producing the right infrastructure decisions or saddling residents with high utility bills, more traffic and an elevated need for police and fire protection. Who is paying the bill? Are we really getting an adequate slice of the tourism and development dollars to cover the long-term investment, operation and maintenance costs for the schools and other infrastructure the County provides?

We hear that big ticket items like sport complexes will pay for themselves and produce more revenue. Who will get this new money? I haven’t heard that making a big investment in the proposed field of dreams would have eliminated Worcester County’s so-called structural deficit. If you live in Worcester County, complete the survey. Hopefully, as the comprehensive plan is updated, the planners will show us a fair share of the profits earned by the bankers, developers and promoters are trickling down, easing the tax burden on the residents and not actually adding to it.

Stephen Katsanos
South Point