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Build Schools Or Hire Teachers?I read with...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Build Schools Or Hire Teachers?

I read with interest the remarks attributed to Howard County school board Chairman Dana Hanna in The Sun, "Leasing School Buildings Weighed to Save Money," on April 25. The comments on my positions on the capital and operating budgets for education, if reported accurately, suggest that Mr. Hanna may have been misinformed.

I am now, as I always have been, a vigorous advocate for education. You will recall that my support for education was central to my election to the County Council. Advocacy, however, is most effective when it is realistic and informed.

I have supported actively the state's increasing its funding for construction of public schools in Howard County.

As chairwoman of the council, I met with Governor Schaefer to request additional state funding for school construction. . . .

I was pleased that, following our meeting, the Board of Public Works approved nearly $9 million in construction funding and $6 million in planning funds for state-financed school construction in this county.

In deliberating the county education budget now before the council, however, I am aware that the debt payments for county-financed capital improvements must be paid from the operating budget.

The more debt we approve now for construction, therefore, the less operating funds we will have available in the future for purchasing textbooks, reducing class sizes, expanding program offerings, improving teacher salaries and improving instruction.

I have supported the county executive's interest in reducing the capital budget for education, with the provision that similar reductions be sought in other county-financed capital projects. I expect that our economies in construction will give us additional flexibility in future years in operating funding for important priorities more central to instruction. Such fiscal planning is prudent and realistic. . . .

I hope that the County Council and the Board of Education will work together to ensure that the budget for public education is responsive to education and responsible to taxpayers of Howard County.

Shane Pendergrass

Ellicott City

The writer is chairwoman of the Howard County Council.

Alpha Ridge

I am deeply concerned that, in spite of the repeated and ever more confounding information on the landfill contamination problems, no substantive solid waste plan has yet transpired.

Instead, massive infusions of precious county funds are being thrown at mostly cosmetic projects. . . .

I reiterate that the solution to the problem is to rapidly adopt an alternative solid waste plan. A short- or medium-term contract to remove solid waste from the county is the cornerstone to such a plan. The new cell at Alpha Ridge serves as both an insurance for this plan and also an invaluable asset within a longer-term regional solution to solid waste.

. . . A small fraction of the cost savings from adoption of this plan must be applied to bringing public water to the threatened area, in particular to the new Mount View Middle School. . . .

Donald L. Gill

Marriottsville

Restrict Smoking To The Home

I'm writing this to commend the efforts of County Councilman Vernon Gray and his fellow council people for their efforts to reduce the smoking problem.

Finally, someone is taking some actions to make smoking in public places prohibited. The only problem is why did it take so long. We needed to find out the hard way: 3,000 lung cancer deaths among non-smokers from secondary smoke and up to 300,000 cases of bronchitis and pneumonia in children. . . .

Once again, thank you Councilman Gray and the rest of the council. Please keep the issue alive and don't let it rest until smoking can only take place in the home.

David Hudson

Ellicott City

Gay Rights March

Your article in the April 25 paper on the March On Washington made me aware that the march didn't solely deal with gay issues.

The homosexual lobbyists were fighting for issues affecting everybody. . . . I sincerely hope Congress proposes legislation dealing with the issues the gays are marching for. They are not just marching for themselves, but also for the needs of society.

Joy Denise Gloster

Ellicott City

National Guard

I must take issue with your April 19 story, "Ellicott City National Guard Armory to be Closed in 1997."

Although the Maryland Army National Guard's 121st Engineer Battalion, with its unit headquarters located in the Ellicott City Armory, was slated to be inactivated in 1995, we have been granted an extension through 1996, and also have received verbal assurances that we will receive a replacement engineer battalion.

This outcome came about through a combined effort by Governor Schaefer and our Maryland congressional delegation.

Our Guard members in the 121st Engineer Battalion won the respect and gratitude of Marylanders statewide for their lifesaving efforts during the blizzard of 1993.

They provided such vital services as the delivery of food to storm victims in Garrett County, rescuing of stranded motorists and the digging out of a snowbound nursing home.

This unit is the very heart and soul of the Maryland National Guard, having handled more civic action projects than any other unit. . . . It is a bitter irony then that the Maryland National Guard is now fighting a battle to save this and other units that have served Maryland with such distinction for so many years.

Some Pentagon officials want to eliminate these proven units without sound justification. I am committed to do everything in my power to save these units and retain my people.

The Maryland National Guard has a proud history, stretching back to 1774. During that time, we have responded to numerous calls to help our fellow citizens in times of domestic and international emergencies. We plan to continue that tradition of service to our state and nation by preserving a critical unit such as the 121st Engineer Battalion.

James F. Fretterd

Baltimore

The writer is the adjutant general of the Maryland NationaGuard.

Gun Control

I am becoming concerned about the number of police bureaucrats (recently joined by Howard County Police Chief James N. Robey) who are calling for an unjustified increase in the already too abundant gun control laws.

These officials are out of touch with reality. They have probably not patrolled the street in many years.

Reality for the common people is that outside our homes or places of business we must -- alone, unarmed and unaided -- face the rapist, the carjacker and the mugger.

Every day, according to the Maryland State Police, more than 300 law abiding citizens apply for permission to purchase handguns and certain semi-automatic long guns.

These people are not arming themselves because they have confidence in the ability of the police to protect them. Yet police bureaucrats continue to call for additional gun control in the face of the abject failure of such laws in Washington and New York.

This is a clear admission that some high-level police bureaucrats don't have a clue as to how to solve the problems of violent crime. If they can't figure it out, perhaps they should resign or be fired.

Richard Lyons

Chase

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