An emphasis on local control and the importance of education funding were key topics for Carroll school board members as they met with the local delegation this week and discussed a number of issues from the potential outcomes of the Kirwan Commission to the Redistricting and School Closure Committee.
The Carroll County Public Schools Board of Education met with delegation members Wednesday for an annual sit-down that both organizations categorized as helpful and meaningful. School Board President Bob Lord said Wednesday’s conversation was the richest he’s ever witnessed between the groups, and called it a “very productive delegation meeting.”
Lord said the BOE talked about the school system’s legislative priorities, which are always very general and focus on local control.
“It gives us a lot of flexibility as legislation is presented down in Annapolis,” Lord said of more basic priority statements.
Lord said early childhood education, especially in terms of literacy, was one of the focus areas Wednesday, because Del. Susan Krebs, R-District 5, has pushed for statewide requirements for reading on grade level by third grade.
“On the surface, that’s great,” Lord said, though added that the board is always leery about state mandates.
Last year, Lord said the BOE was against the bill.
“It would be another state mandate but also if it’s something you agree with …. why not do it locally? Why does it have to be state mandated?” Lord said.
Krebs did say Carroll does a strong job in handling literacy in its schools, and understands the importance of local control.
“Carroll County is the poster child for doing it well,” she said
But, when making laws in the state, especially those that deal with funding, it’s important to have accountability baked into it, she said.
Lord said Carroll County has developed tools that work, and a state mandate would require them to develop other tools and change methods, which “becomes a struggle.”
“It’s about local control. We do what’s best for our students in our community,” he said, adding that Carroll’s needs are different than, for example, Prince George’s County or Montgomery County.
Universal pre-kindergarten is another item on everyone’s mind, Lord said, and is something most people think will be a recommendation from the Kirwan Commission.
Lord said if universal pre-k moves forward, it’s important for the delegation to push for funding to go with it, he said. Concern isn’t just over per pupil funding, but also the capital costs, which is another reason why closing schools doesn’t make sense right now, Lord said.
“If we close schools then we’re going to be in bigger trouble,” he said, because CCPS will need room for more students.
“I hear all the time about concerns from the community about how the school closures went last time,” Ready said.
While he said he understands the community doesn’t want to go through that again, there is concern over major needs at some of the older school facilities. And, he said, there are also concerns about teacher pay.
“At a certain point, something has to give," he added.
Ready said that although the committee was told to look at all of the possible options, that didn’t really work, because “sometimes when you explore everything you wind up exploring nothing.”
No one wants to close schools, Ready said, but no one wants to spend millions and millions of dollars on a new East Middle School facility.
Regardless of some disagreement during the meeting, Ready echoed Lord’s thoughts on the meeting.
Latest Carroll County Education
“The meeting over all was very, very positive,” he said, adding that the Board of Education did a great job of telling the delegation what CCPS specifically needs. “We have a real action plan that we can move forward on.”