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Gearing up for the primary races Carroll can influence

It is election season again, and the talking heads on the boob tube are concentrating on the presidential election. But we here in Carroll County have little to say in that struggle. Blame the folks who wrote the Constitution.

Whoever is the Democratic candidate for president will get Maryland's Electoral College votes. However, at the national level we still get to cast direct votes for U.S. Senate and House members this year. And locally, we'll get to choose two members for the Carroll County Board of Education.

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The biggest local issue this year was and continues to be the proposed closing of three schools to match declining (for the next few years at least) enrollments. The governor offered some stop-gap funding, but that was refused by the school board.

My current proposal is that the school board take the money and close the three targeted schools one grade at a time. Thus New Windsor Middle would be closed totally in three years, North Carroll High in four years and Charles Carroll Elementary in six years (or maybe never.)

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Who would this benefit? The students would benefit. It is my persistent belief that students benefit from the camaraderie of their classmates, continuity of their educational staff and loyalty to an alma mater. Some students need special help, and such special programming is best conducted over a series of years by staff familiar with the student and the program.

Money can be saved year by year by reductions in teaching and supervisory staff such as assistant principals. I daresay an outside consultant could reduce staff from the school system headquarters as well. In government and industry, pushing down more authority to lower levels often frees the lower level to perform better. My experience over the years in both government and industry leads me to that conclusion.

Schools are community centers also, either formally or informally.

I fear the barrier to all such improved plans is the tendency of those in authority to defend their latest decision to the bitter end, and defend their authority to make such decisions most of all. I would hate to think that our elected school board, overworked and underpaid as they are, had fallen to that level.

In the meantime we all have other civic duties to perform. There is a primary coming up. More often than not the primary is the real election. Usually in Carroll, it is the Republican primary that is meaningful; but in this election, it is the Democratic primary that counts. On that side, there is real competition for the District 8 U.S. House of Representatives seat to be vacated by Chris Van Hollen. The local Dems have scheduled a forum at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 9, at the South Carroll Senior and Community Center, 5928 Mineral Hill Road in Eldersburg.

Of the seven Democrats competing for Van Hollen's seat, six are scheduled to attend. See you there, I hope. Mark your calendar.

Only two Republicans have filed for this seat and only one of these, Liz Matory, has bothered to put up a (rudimentary) website. In any case the 8th District usually goes Democratic.

John Culleton writes from Eldersburg. His column appears every second Tuesday. Email him at cct@wexfordpress.com.

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