Unsurprisingly, members of the Board of Education and ex-officio school board member Commissioner Richard Weaver clashed on Wednesday when the outgoing school board voted to move forward on recommendations from Superintendent Steve Lockard to spend $100,000 on a feasibility study to examine options to address the aging East Middle School.

The Board of County Commissioners, of course, is the primary funding body for Carroll County Public Schools, and Weaver, R-District 2, said he was sticking to his guns that, as one-fifth of the commission vote, he was “never going to put another penny into East Middle,” a statement he made when the BOE voted to close Charles Carroll Elementary, New Windsor Middle and North Carroll High School in 2015.


That sentiment is based on the commissioners’ belief the BOE chose the wrong schools to close at that time, and that East Middle should’ve been part of that original closure plan to avoid future capital costs at the oldest building in the school system’s inventory.

However, there were several forces working against that being part of the solution at the time. Not the least of which was the pressure the BOE was under from the county commissioners to close schools quickly and realize immediate savings. Any closure of East Middle would’ve been a bit more complicated, as adjacent middle schools did not have the necessary space to accommodate all of the students who would need to be redistricted.

Carroll County school board, commissioner members clash over possible East Middle School project

Despite the Board of Education moving forward this week with recommendations for a feasibility study to help find a solution to the East Middle School dilemma, some members of the school board and Board of County Commissioners continue to disagree about a path forward.

We were hopeful that when the Redistricting and School Closure Committee was formed it would have vetted some of these more complicated solutions, including grade reconfiguration or potentially redistricting Winters Mill High School students to open that space for a “super” middle school for students from East and West middle schools. Would either have been feasible? Maybe, maybe not. The committee — made up primarily of community members — did look at these and found far more cons than pros, although potential costs were not examined.

Nevertheless, all of those decisions are in the past. Both boards need to move forward with what is in front of them.

What we do find frustrating and, frankly, disappointing, is that both sides are already playing the blame game, seemingly anticipating the same stalemate that’s been going on the last four years, when the commissioners first rejected funding for a K-8 project to replace East Middle, Charles Carroll and William Winchester elementary schools.

In the same breath, Weaver said Wednesday the commissioners are just the funding source, but where students go is the Board of Education’s decision.

The commissioners can’t have it both ways, saying the BOE has autonomy to make decisions about where students go while at the same time pressuring the school board to close schools and redistrict while essentially saying the county won’t fund new buildings like a K-8 or renovations to East Middle if the school board determines that is the best course of action for students.

With that said, the BOE can’t continue to operate in a vacuum, refusing to consult with the county commissioners about what its members are willing and able to fund before making decisions. Doing so wastes a lot of time and money.

Among the two boards, there are five new incoming members — two commissioners and three BOE members — following the election. Hopefully, these new boards will be able to work together and get on the same page and we will finally be able to address East Middle School.