After commissioners' letter breeds confusion, Board of Education prepares response

Carroll County's Board of Education voted Wednesday to pen a response to the county commissioners in an attempt to clear recent confusion over the Combined Education Committee.

After Carroll County's commissioners issued a news release and letter about "recommendations" from the Combined Education Committee, confusion to some committee members, the Board of Education worked to bring clarity.


The committee, which began meeting in June, was created to help close the funding gap between the school system and county. The committee held its final meeting last week, deciding to close out its approximately four months of sessions somewhat suddenly.

The committee was made up of school board members Devon Rothschild and Bob Lord; Commissioners Richard Weaver, R-District 2, and Doug Howard, R-District 5; Glen Galante, of the Maryland State Education Association and Carroll County Education Association; local real estate agent and Planning and Zoning Commission member Dan Hoff; Carroll County Public Schools parent Michele Rogers; Westminster-based financial adviser Steven Aquino; community member Bobbi Tucker; and a rotation of representatives from the county's Annapolis delegation.

After the committee's end, the commissioners sent a list of what they called recommendations, though other members of the committee spoke out, saying that what was sent out was not an official list, and was not voted on.

The school board met for its regularly scheduled meeting Wednesday evening. The conversation around the CEC recommendations started toward the beginning of the meeting, though it was pushed to the end for further discussion.

"I think that it definitely warrants some discussion," Devon Rothschild said Wednesday. "It ended abruptly and honestly, I'm still confused that it's ending."

The committee was important from the standpoint that all important parties — the school board, the commissioners, the community, the parents, the delegates — were involved, she said. They were able to sit down and, for the most part, have civil brainstorming and informational gathering sessions, she added.

But, Devon Rothschild said, she left the committee disappointed, and remains so after the commissioners sent out their letter and release.

The release focused on praising the committee.

"The Carroll County Combined Education Committee reached its conclusion last night with all involved parties charged with examining many new ideas for reducing the funding gap for Carroll County Public Schools," the release reads. "After eight meetings of information and data gathering followed by a brainstorming session and subcommittee development, the group leaves the table successfully with a wealth of information, deeper understanding of the issue, tools to understand the impact of financial decisions and over fifty recommendations to take back to their respective colleagues to consider."

The letter to the Board of Education also referenced a previous agreement to publicly vet all of the ideas, something the board also took issue with.

"I feel like this is a misleading statement," Devon Rothschild said.

She called for the board to send a letter back to the commissioners, something the Board of Education agreed to Wednesday.

In addition to discussion about the committee, the school board said farewell to current board President Jim Doolan and board member Jennifer Seidel. Wednesday's meeting was their last board meeting before two new members — Donna Sivigny and Marsha Herbert — are seated in December.

The board also voted Wednesday to pass a calendar with a post-Labor Day start after Gov. Larry Hogan issued an executive order earlier this year mandating schools start after Labor Day and end by June 15.