When the Carroll County Board of Education passes its operating budget Wednesday, we hope that its members approve the superintendent’s full proposed request, which includes 29 new positions as well as raises for educators.

The school board was criticized by some members of the Board of County Commissioners, the primary funding authority for Carroll County Public Schools, as well as some educators in the system for not prioritizing funding for raises over anything else in this year.


More than 50 people came to the Feb. 6 public hearing for the Carroll County Board of Education’s proposed 2020 budget. And it was teachers in red who shared their three minutes of public comment back to back for almost an hour — begging for raises and the appreciation that comes along with them.

But the Board of Education’s job isn’t to make teachers happy or make elected county commissioners look good — it’s to advocate for the students in order for them to have the best education possible.

Compensation for teachers is certainly part of that formula. We don’t disagree with the many educators clad in red who spoke at Wednesday’s BOE budget work session that Carroll is losing good teachers to other jurisdictions that pay better; good teachers we would be wise to retain if possible.

However, improved salary and benefits alone are not the only methods by which to have a great school system that produces students ready to enter college, the workforce and adulthood.

Over the years, CCPS has cut numerous positions through attrition to avoid layoffs and cutting popular programs, such as Outdoor School and J.V. sports. As a result, not only are Carroll’s teachers underpaid, in many cases they are also overwhelmed.

“I’m in those classrooms. Those elementary school teachers need help, and we have cut, cut, cut … But I’m telling you: We do have a priority of our teachers being compensated, but we also see our teachers need to be compensated in the classroom. We are dealing with a different type of child now and sometimes we are like a parent to them,” Board of Education member Marsha Herbert, herself a former teacher, told the county commissioners. “Those teachers need help and I’m glad we put those [positions] in there because of the situation and the crisis in the elementary school system. We have cut for so many years; it’s time to step up, and we need to help those elementary teachers.”

Among the 29 positions requested at a cost of $2.8 million, are 18 academic specialists for elementary and middle schools focused on math, four special education resource teachers, three school psychologists, two intervention therapists and two onsite information technology analysts.

Maryland State Department of Education data shows that Carroll ranks near the bottom of Maryland’s 24 jurisdictions when it comes to noninstructional staff (22nd), classroom aides (19th) and other instructional personnel (23rd).

Superintendent Steven Lockard acknowledged he did not expect those positions to be fully funded, but that it was nevertheless prudent for the school system to put on record he believes these positions are necessary to achieving the mission.

For the first time in X years the Board of Carroll County Commissioners held a joint work session with the Board of Education on Feb. 5. The two boards noted the tensions from the past and said the move would be the beginning of quarterly meetings to work on building trust and understanding.

The reaction from the commissioners and teacher’s union reps was almost as if they didn’t understand how negotiations work, which of course, we know isn’t true. Ask for what you want — in this case, what school leaders believe they need — then work toward something with which everyone can live.

We don’t expect, and neither should the BOE members, the commissioners to happily comply with their ask if it includes both compensation for teachers and new positions. They should ask for it anyway when the school board approves its budget Wednesday.

If the public perception if the commissioners don’t fund the entire request is that county commissioners aren’t doing enough to fund education in Carroll, so be it. Again, the BOE’s job isn’t to make the commissioners look good, it’s to make sure they are offering students the best educational experience possible. The only way to do that is to make sure the commissioners and the public know what positions they need by asking for them.