The late night talk show host is right . . . there are quite a few things in life that make you stop and say hum-m-m-m-m.
One of the latest hum-m-m-m-m items in Carroll County has been the recent salary increases for top Carroll County school administrators.
In tight economic times, such as we are facing now, it is difficult to justify a $6,000 salary increase to one individual and $3,000 to another -- no matter who those individuals are or what they do.
Not only is there a cash increase for the superintendent, but now we have learned that there is a $700-a-month automobile use and maintenance payment . . . that is $8,400 a year.
It has got to be cheaper to provide a county vehicle to the superintendent when he needs to go out of the office to meetings. What other employee, county or private enterprise has all of their automobile expenses paid by their employer?
Keep in mind that you and I are underwriting all of the commuting expenses for this employee.
Then there is the deferred compensation provision . . . another $5,000 for this year and greater amounts for the next two years. And the goodies go on and on . . . health care, fully paid by the county; life insurance, fully paid by the county; travel to conferences and conventions, fully paid by the county; full tuition costs for continuing education, fully paid by the county . . . and you must keep in mind that "fully paid by the county" means fully paid by the taxpayers of Carroll County.
The criticism for this contract falls directly at the feet of the Carroll County school board members. Every member of the board has made some statement to try to justify a vote for this contract.
The justifications range from "the school system is a big business and, in any business, the captain of the ship is rewarded for a good job" . . . to "the contract was signed in good faith and [she] did not have a crystal ball to see the present economy."
The bottom line is the board members did not take the economy into serious consideration when negotiating this contract.
A budget deficit was predicted for this state as early as the 1990 gubernatorial elections. When the state has a deficit, the counties will have a deficit. All governments get their revenues from the same source . . . the pockets of us, the taxpayers.
The Carroll County school board is responsible for quality education in this county.
Quality education is the very best school texts available in the hands of our students.
Quality education is the very best stocked libraries being available to our teachers and students.
Quality education is placing computers in every school so that our students will be ready to enter the world of the 21st century.
Quality education is making all supplies necessary available to teachers and aides . . . not expecting them to dip into their own funds to purchase needed items for their classrooms.
Quality education is making available the necessary rewards to motivate students.
Quality education is making the necessary copying equipment available to teachers so that sufficient numbers of an item are available to each classroom and not expecting a teacher to go to an outside copy center to pay for these items.
Quality education is paying every employee of the school system for all of the time and energy devoted to their jobs.
Quality education means teaching our students that all in the system are equal with equal treatment . . . not those at the top get more because they have reached the top.
Our current tax bill reflects that the Carroll County school board receives 52.3 percent of the annual revenues from the Carroll County taxpayers. They should be acting in a more responsible manner when negotiating contracts of all types, not just salary contracts.
The board should keep in mind at all times that they do not have any taxing authority. Yet they want to have full and unencumbered spending authority. With benefits come burdens and responsibilities . . . it's time to be acting in a more responsible manner.
Remember the people who pay the taxes. Remember the teachers and aides who make up the school system. Remember the parents and the PTOs and PTAs that hold the special events to raise the additional revenues for projects in their own schools.
These are the people who have made the Carroll County school system what it is today. These are the people who have made the difference in the test scores and the awards and scholarships that our students have received. Remember those who labor every day to make Carroll County schools great.