Wednesday, May 25, 2016

A Not-So-Public Meeting

This Thursday. 7:30 PM. Board of Education Budget Adoption. Teachers will be present wearing red, parents in support will be wearing blue to support the adoption of a fair and equitable budget.

Never mind, Scratch that.

That meeting was canceled yesterday. It's been rescheduled for 8 am Tuesday. If you're a teacher? Can't go. If you're a parent? You're either getting a child off to school or on your way to work. Can't go. Aw...too bad. I'll bet there are plenty of employees at Central Office to fill those seats.

Transparency. Accountability. Responsiveness. Collaboration with stakeholders.


When I learned of this last-minute switch yesterday I was, as my mother would have said, "fit to be tied."

So I thought. And I thought. Who might be available at 8 am on a Tuesday morning the day after the Memorial Day?

Dear ___________,

I have just received word of the following schedule change:

The BOE final budget approval meeting scheduled for Thursday has been rescheduled for Tuesday at 8am. Reportedly with the County Council vote Thursday morning they would not have sufficient time to obtain any input from the superintendent/staff about what cuts to make.

A meeting time of 8 am clearly excludes attendance at this event by teachers, staff, and most parents. It seems a rather odd way to hold a public meeting.

I am inviting you to attend in our place. Your constituents, the stakeholders of the Howard County Schools, are again shut out by a system supported by our own tax dollars. Therefore we must turn to our elected officials to do for us what we cannot.

Please let me know if you will be able to attend Tuesday's meeting. I apologise for the late notice but I only just found out myself.

Thank you so much for your service to our community.

So far I have invited the entire County Council, the County Executive, all of the Howard County Delegation, and State Comptroller Peter Franchot. I would have invited the Governor but I couldn't find an email address.*

Do I think they will be able to change their plans at the last minute to attend a hastily-scheduled 8 am meeting? Well--can you? Is that an easy thing for any of us to do? Even though their attendance is unlikely, I still think they ought to know how their constituents are being treated. So I am inviting them both as a request for assistance and as a way of keeping them "in the loop", so to speak, as to how community members are experiencing this year's budget process.

I've heard assertions that time is tight at the end of the year, what with graduation season upon us, making it difficult to reschedule this meeting. That may be true. I can't help but wonder why the school system didn't take the time needed to propose a financially responsible budget in the first place.

I'm sure a lot of people are wondering that today.



*No, I'm not going to report back on who does or doesn't respond. I feel bad enough having to bother them at all about this.


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