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Petitions, websites emerge in support of education funding

Mount Airy resident Susan McNulty believes that certain Carroll County commissioners are ignoring their constituents.

She believes the majority of Carroll County residents want the school system to be funded at the amount requested in the Carroll County Public School budget discussions, but that some commissioners are ignoring the public's opinions.

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"They are overreaching their authority," she said.

So McNulty decided to start a petition titled, "The Carroll County Board of Commissioners: Support and Protect the Carroll County Public Schools." The petition has more than 1,000 signatures and several comments listed on its

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.

"I want to show them numbers that they can't refute," she said.

Petitions, social media pages and websites have recently emerged to support either Carroll County Public Schools funding or programs.

McNulty, a mother of three children in the school system, said the main reason she developed the petition was to spread the word about school funding.

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"People are very busy and perhaps they are not as tuned in as they need to be," she said.

On the petition page, McNulty explained that Superintendent Steve Guthrie and his staff have managed to cut their budget by millions and millions of dollars over the past several years. She said that there is nothing left to cut except essential staffing and programs such as Outdoor School, which is "absolutely unacceptable," McNulty said.

"We moved to Carroll County so that our children could receive an excellent education," she said. "If schools start going downhill, everything else goes with them."

When Outdoor School was named as a possible closure option during the Fiscal Year 2014 budget talks, Westminster residents Sean and Alicia Lee were moved to act.

The family created a

The petition has gained more than 5,000 signatures since being created Feb. 3.

Sean Lee, a mathematics and technology teacher at South Carroll High School, went through an Outdoor School experience when he was growing up in Montgomery County. He wants to make sure his children are able to have a similar experience.

"It was the best time I could remember having in all of my schooling," he said.

The school serves every child in Carroll County and provides them with an invaluable outdoor experience, Sean Lee said.

Outdoor School is Carroll County's residential environmental school. All county sixth-graders have the option to attend for one school week.

"If the school board and Superintendent Guthrie are forced into the position to make all these cuts, they should find a way to do it without closing Outdoor School," he said.

Another intention of the survey is to show the Carroll County commissioners how much people in the community care about Outdoor School.

The petition has more than 1,500 comments left by those who signed the petition. Many of them share personal stories about why Outdoor School means a lot to them, he said.

"They have a deep connection," he said. "They want their kids and grandkids to have that experience."

Alicia Lee said their son went to Outdoor School in December and the experience made him more independent.

Their son made friends with his peers at Mount Airy Middle that he had never talked to before.

The opportunity to attend Outdoor School is also given to many children with unique needs, such as physical disabilities.

"They make the experience happen for everyone," Alicia Lee said.

The experience is eye-opening for the children and families. Children learn to trust people outside besides just their parents.

"I'm glad that he got to go through it and I think other kids really need to have that opportunity," she said.

The Facebook page,

, indicates it promotes quality education for all children in Carroll County Public Schools. The page shares education news and lets followers know about upcoming education meetings.

, a website run by the Carroll County Education Association, went live in January with the intent of helping people understand all the information that goes into school budget decisions, according to Dan Chambers, a representative with the association.

The Carroll County Education Association represents more than 2,000 teachers, guidance counselors and registered nurses employed by Carroll County Public Schools.

The website serves as a way to get as much relevant information as possible to those who want to learn more about school funding. They also provide information about how to participate in the budget process.

"It's very, very easy to send a message to the county commissioners," he said. "We're just trying to break down the barriers to people participating."

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