Friday, May 27, 2016

And Now, Over to You

I spent most of the day yesterday out of the house and away from social media. By the time I got home at seven, I had missed all the excitement of the County Council meeting. Thank goodness I had two articles in the Howard County Times plus eyewitness accounts on social media to bring me up to speed.

If you haven't already, you might want to read:
The most immediate takeaway is that the County Council unanimously passed the County Executive's budget for the school system, not the substantially larger one submitted by Central Office. It maintains the specific allocations for negotiated compensation for teachers, for special education, and for the hiring of necessary new teachers. In addition,

[County Council Chair] Ball's proposed [budget oversight] committee will help the Council analyze the Board of Education's budget and provide recommendations in preparation for next year's fiscal year 2018 budget, Ball said. The audit, by the county's auditor, may include analysis of items that have been frequently questioned in public sessions during the current budget season, including special education, the school system's health and dental fund and legal services.

The County Council has spent a huge amount of time on this. In this decision we see the culmination of studying two different budgets, hearing from the school system and community members, working collaboratively with the County Executive and with eachother to respond to a difficult challenge. I think they have navigated this treacherous terrain astoundingly well.

Yesterday was a victory for community input, for financial prudence, and for transparency in our school system. But it wasn't the end of this matter by any stretch of the imagination. Tuesday morning, at 8 am (remember that?) the Board of Education will respond as they hold their annual meeting to vote on their budget.

I would like to believe that the message that the County Executive and the County Council are sending here will be received. Experience suggests that it will not. How will Central Office (instruct the Board to) respond? Tune in Tuesday morning to find out. The more eyes on this, the better.
Nice job, County Council. Enjoy your holiday weekend. You've certainly earned it.

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