Parents are right to oppose scheduling changes in county schools [Letter]

Flabbergasted is the word I can use to describe Baltimore County School Board President Larry Schmidt's letter to the editor on the board's lack of authority over class schedules ("School board must defer to superintendent on schedules," Feb. 26).

To say that the school board can never get involved in an administrative or scheduling issue is naïve. Surely if Superintendent Dallas Dance unilaterally chose to go to a two-period school day, Mr. Schmidt, as president of the school board, would get involved, as would other members of the board.

If Mr. Dance established a policy that any time it snowed more than half an inch all Baltimore County Schools would be closed, you can be certain Mr. Schmidt and the board would intervene.

It's been said that facts are a difficult thing to ignore, so here are the facts regarding the scheduling controversy:

The Baltimore County Public School system approved an expenditure of approximately $250,000 to hire a consulting firm called S3 to analyze school schedules.

When S3 was hired, it had only been in business about 18 months and had only three references listed on its website. One of those references was from Mr. Dance when he worked for the Houston school system.

With no stakeholder involvement, no educational impact study and no discussion with board members, Mr. Dance unilaterally mandated changes that eliminated the schedules used by the 11 top-performing schools in the county school system

Parents organized to voice their opposition to this scheduling mandate, yet Mr. Schmidt said he and the board cannot get involved because it is an administrative matter they have no jurisdiction over.

I find it bizarre that Mr. Schmidt and the board approved a $250,000 consulting contract to S3 but then stepped away from what should have been their fiduciary responsibility to analyze the contractor's recommendation. Isn't there some obligation to parents, teachers and students to ensure that the school board-approved study has a fair and open hearing?

The board's lack of oversight on this issue is shortsighted and defies common sense. All parents in Baltimore County should be upset that educational opportunities are being eliminated instead of being extended to all.

Sen. James Brochin, Towson

The writer, a Democrat, represents Baltimore County's 42nd District in the Maryland Senate.

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