Ceme­tery Board

Kent County News - - OPINION -

The start of ev­ery new school year comes with some aches and pains as the prover­bial rust gets kicked off the wheels of the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem: school build­ings come back on line after months of lit­tle or no use; teach­ers, par­ents and chil­dren get back into the swing of early morn­ings; and the school buses be­gin trav­el­ing our roads and com­mu­ni­ties.

This year though has been more try­ing than usual for some due to the Board of Ed­u­ca­tion’s new bus con­tract as is ev­i­dent by the num­ber of calls our office has re­ceived from par­ents ex­press­ing their dis­plea­sure.

While we un­der­stand the Board of Edu-

To the edi­tor:

cation’s de­sire to put the con­tract out for a com­pet­i­tive bid, which is a solid busi­ness prac­tice for any ser­vice, we are con­cerned that the mes­sage on why a new con­tract was sought is be­ing dis­torted. While this de­ci­sion can po­ten­tially save the Board of Ed­u­ca­tion op­er­at­ing dol­lars that can be used else­where in their sys­tem, it was not due to re­duced fund­ing from the Kent County Com­mis­sion­ers.

Mary­land’s law re­gard­ing ed­u­ca­tion fund­ing dic­tates that a county must fund their board of ed­u­ca­tion at the same per­pupil fund­ing as it did the pre­vi­ous year. This law is called Main­te­nance of Ef­fort (MOE) and it dic­tates a large per­cent­age of Kent County gov­ern­ment’s yearly bud­get.

The MOE fund­ing is by no means the max­i­mum the Board of Ed­u­ca­tion can get though as we are com­mit­ted to the ed­u­ca­tion of our stu­dents and there­fore have pro­vided an ad­di­tional $1.2 mil­lion since Fis­cal Year 2014. This level of fund­ing has put Kent County’s per-pupil fund­ing at the fourth high­est level in the state be­hind only Mont­gomery, Howard and Worces­ter coun­ties.

Ad­di­tion­ally, the Kent County Board of Ed­u­ca­tion has op­er­ated at a bud­get sur­plus for a num­ber of years with a $2.9 mil­lion sur­plus in Fis­cal Year 2016 and a $1.7 mil­lion sur­plus in Fis­cal Year 2017. Ob­vi­ously, the $200,000 pro­jected sav­ings on the new bus con­tract had noth­ing to do with a lack of fund­ing from the county.

As your County Com­mis­sion­ers, we will con­tinue to make the ed­u­ca­tion of Kent County stu­dents a pri­or­ity. This com­mit­ment is ex­pressed through our yearly bud­get al­lo­ca­tion to the Board of Ed­u­ca­tion which, based on their com­mend­able bud­get sur­plus, is ev­i­dently suf­fi­cient.

It is im­por­tant to em­pha­size though that our role is lim­ited to this al­lo­ca­tion, $26.3 mil­lion in Fis­cal Year 2017, and it is the Board of Ed­u­ca­tion’s re­spon­si­bil­ity to uti­lize these funds, which are pro­vided by you, our tax­pay­ing cit­i­zens, in a pru­dent, re­spon­si­ble man­ner to make sure that all vi­tal ed­u­ca­tional needs of our stu­dents and par­ents are met. The County Com­mis­sion­ers of Kent County Wil­liam W. Pick­rum, Pres­i­dent Ron­ald H. Fithian, Mem­ber Wil­liam A. Short, Mem­ber

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