For the first time, the Carroll County Commissioners have invited PTA representatives to attend budget meetings in an attempt to educate parents about local school funding and seek their input in spending decisions.
Parents will join county and school officials in September as they begin to develop budgets for all county departments, including Carroll's public schools.
Commissioner W. Benjamin Brown said he came up with the idea after meeting in the spring with PTA groups from individual schools.
"I thought it would be more helpful and productive if PTAs were plugged in on the county budget process and the [school] superintendent's budget process prior to their adoptions," Brown said.
He theorized that parents would gain a better understanding of the county's spending capabilities with regard to schools if they were aware of the county's total budget responsibilities.
"We're looking to give people a broader perspective," Brown said.
Laura Rhodes, Carroll County PTA Council president, said she welcomes the invitation to attend county budget meetings.
"I'm very much a believer in having a round-table discussion as you're developing things," Rhodes said. "It never hurts to have input from all sources before you make up your mind."
But Rhodes noted that the effort will be worthwhile only if parents' suggestions and comments are taken seriously.
"That will make the difference -- whether the people they're asking input from are truly listened to or whether it just looks good," Rhodes said.
Superintendent William H. Hyde applauded the commissioners' attempt to benefit from parents' firsthand knowledge of the strengths and shortcomings of county schools.
"I can't think of a better group for the county to go to," Hyde said. "It benefits the county government because they have expanded their sources of information; the benefit for the citizens is having a better understanding of what's being attempted in the provision of services to all citizens of the county."
Typically, parents first see the superintendent's proposed budget in January when it is presented to the Board of Education.
Pub Date: 7/22/98