Misra: Education needs funding now for better tomorrow

Just as Mount Airy is poised to welcome a state-of-the-art medical facility into our community and increase its ranking in national housing market surveys, Carroll is solidifying its reputation as a county that does not support public education.

It makes you wonder: What business or homeowner will invest in a county that is reluctant to support essential services for its children and is banking on school enrollments to decline?


Mount Airy Health Services, jointly owned by Carroll Hospital and Frederick Memorial Hospital, recently announced the creation of the Mount Airy Health & Wellness Pavilion in the Peakcock Center, 504 E. Ridgeville Blvd. This facility promises to improve our quality of life and local economy by enhancing health services, job opportunity and revenue. No doubt when Mount Airy Health Services made the decision to expand in our community instead of further west on Interstate 70, they were counting on a housing market that would bring in more clients and access to educational facilities that would provide training for their staff.

I had hoped that the trauma inflicted on communities across Carroll by last year's desperate rush to close a number of high-performing schools in response to consistent gaps in funding brought on by outdated state and local funding formulas and poorly conceived tax cuts that undermined the county's ability to benefit from regional economic recovery, had not been in vain. But in spite of obvious signs that Carroll is headed in the wrong direction (e.g. the Mount Airy College Center for Health Care Education, an alliance among Carroll, Frederick and Howard community colleges that opened in 2012, just announced it will cease operations at the end of its spring semester because of declining enrollments and financial concerns), there is little evidence that the trajectory will change.

The budget recently proposed by Carroll County Public Schools Superintendent Stephen Guthrie:

• Fails to account for the adverse effects of closing schools and redistricting children miles from their communities and their homes.

• Fails to demonstrate that salaries will be sufficient to attract and retain experienced staff.

• Fails to demonstrate that funding will be sufficient to prevent additional school closures until the effects of the first round of closures have been analyzed.

• And most importantly, fails to demonstrate that funding will be sufficient to improve the delivery of instruction so that confidence in our public schools is restored.

Closing or inadequately funding schools in communities like Mount Airy — which continue to invest in public water, roads, police and emergency services, and recreational facilities — is a recipe for disaster.

Everyone knows that good public schools are critical in providing opportunities for children and producing educated citizens that will maintain a strong democracy. Good public schools are also economic engines that benefit the entire community. Countless economists have analyzed the relationship between schools and economic prosperity and the data overwhelmingly show that good public schools have a positive impact on property values; stimulate entrepreneurship; attract businesses into the community; lead to higher wages in the community, which in turn support existing business enterprises; and encourage young men and women to return to the area after college, contributing to social and economic stability and growth of the tax base.

Alan Greenspan, leading economist and former chairman of the Federal Reserve, believed that rigorous education and ongoing training were essential to support the knowledge and skills of a population that are critical for wealth creation in constantly changing economies.

Please join me in urging our Board of Education and county commissioners to work quickly and openly with staff, the public and representatives at all levels of government, to ensure that funding be provided to CCPS at a higher level — a level that will actually retain teachers, improve instruction and preserve our capital investment in school facilities. Adequate levels of educational funding are needed now in order to maintain the quality of life in our communities today, and welcome families and business into our communities tomorrow.

Rita Misra writes from Mount Airy.