Prevailing wage doesnt increase school costsSeveral recent...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Prevailing wage doesnt increase school costs

Several recent academic studies have shown that prevailing wage laws do not have a negative financial impact.

Three papers by Peter Philips of the University of Utah and Mark Prus, SUNY Cortland, specifically analyzing school construction costs, concluded that prevailing wages do not increase these costs.

Dr. Philips studied school construction costs in Michigan, with and without prevailing wage legislation. His March 1999 paper found no statistically significant difference in school construction costs when prevailing wage was suspended. Prevailing wage laws promote collective bargaining and apprenticeship training and may consequently lower public construction costs.

Dr. Prus January 1999 analysis of public school construction inMaryland and the mid-Atlantic states found no statistically significant difference in costs associated with prevailing wage regulations.

Additional studies have found negative impacts on government budgets when prevailing wage laws are not applied, due to lower quality workmanship and lost tax revenues.

Where existing prevailing wage laws have been repealed, tax revenue losses exceeded the small wage savings resulting from the action, and the states experienced a net deficit.

Additionally, without prevailing wage, results include higher injury rates, declining apprenticeship training and reduced minority access to training.

Prevailing wages increase tax revenues, and in turn, provide the resources communities can use for enhancing public education.

Valerie E. Costantini

Elkridge

The writer is chairperson and professor of arts and humanities at Howard County Community College.

Helping to strengthen schools should be goal

School equality should be based on more than just MSPAP scores and building infrastructure. We must develop a comprehensive set of quality standards that include academics, parent involvement, school diversity, adequate resources, special education and after-school programs.

We must raise the achievement outcomes at all schools so that our neighborhood schools will be the schools of choice.

We need new ways of sustaining schools, teachers, administrators, families, and students. In other words, we need to support Howard Countys communities.

In order to realize the change that is needed in our schools, we must have accountability from the top down.

Not only will Howard County have a changed school board, it will also have a new superintendent. From the central office to the classroom, all school system staff must be accountable for each and every childs progress.

However, the responsibility of reinvigorating our communities and raising academic achievement of our children does not rest solely with the Board of Education.

The Board of Education must exercise its leadership and work with school improvement teams, PTAs, community organizations, as well as local, state, and national officials to strengthen parent and community involvement and to develop new andinnovative strategies to support all of our students.

A caring community doesnt just happen -- involved people with good ideas make it happen. All children can learn.

Daniel M. Dotson

Columbia

Public funds for public schools

Recent articles in The Sun have described efforts in Maryland to convince Gov. Parris Glendening to provide financial assistance to non-public schools. Using public funds to finance private schools is bad public policy for a number of reasons.

Throughout Maryland teachers in public schools lack the resources to adequately provide for all of their students.

More and more students spend their school day in portable classrooms or overcrowded buildings. Replacement cycles for textbooks have been extended and more teachers use texts that are outdated or in poor condition.

As budgets for supplies and classroom materials are reduced, teachers spend more of their own money for materials even as salary increases have been minimal.

There are simply too many unmet needs in Marylands public schools to use public funds for private schools.

In poor jurisdictions such aid will only widen the gap between the resources available to private schools and their public counterparts.

It is ironic that public aid to private schools is being considered at this time.

Public schools are being held to higher standards of performance and our teachers are being asked to demonstrate increased skills and pay for additional college course -- private schools are subject to neither type of accountability.

Public schools must admit and teach all students, it is inconceivable that the state of Maryland consider supporting schools that by their very nature limit access and enrollment.

We all realize that good economic times make more tax dollars available to support education today.

Yet consider what the state of Maryland did during tough economic times in the past. Faced with reduced tax revenues at all levels, Maryland shifted the cost of paying for employee Social Security benefits to local jurisdictions and granted exemptions from the maintenance of effort requirements.

These actions resulted in broken contracts and reduced salaries for teachers and support personnel.

Perhaps the current surplus should be used to restore state funding for Social Security or to provide targeted aid to increase salaries across-the-board through the collective bargaining process.

I am confident that when the governor and members of the Maryland legislature consider all of the factors which argue against spending public funds to support private schools, they will oppose such proposals.

Public funds should be used to strengthen public education at a time those funds are needed most.

Joseph R. Staub Jr.

Ellicott City

The writer is president of the Howard County Education Association.

Dont ruin the lives of a Howard Co. family

On Feb. 9 on WBAL-TV, I saw a short segment concerning the Howard County Board of Education and people named Baugher. To refresh your memory, Howard County feels it needs another elementary school and chose land that just happens to be owned already by the Baughers. The Howard County board offered to buy the Baugher land.

James and Joan Baugher decided they did not want to sell their home. Just as other working and productive Americans, the Baughers want to keep what they have worked for and share it with their children and grandchildren. Evidently, what Mr. and Mrs. Baugher want and have a right to is of no concern to the Howard County Board of Education.

I understand that children need to have school buildings to go to and I understand the problems of crowding in existing schools. Howard County has other options besides ruining the lives of these unassuming, productive, hard-working, un-politically connected, un-famous farmers.

Rickie Bansbach

Bel Air

Thank you for running the story Seeds of dissent sown over family farm. by Alice Lukens, on February 11, about the plight of the James Baugher family farm. It brought to light four very important issues that all community members need to be aware of:

There are fewer farms now than in the 1960s, and a growing, longer-living population that needs more from those farms than ever before.

The intent of the Howard County school board to force an eminent domain claim to the James Baugher farm is directly opposed to the states Smart Growth policies to preserve agricultural lands.

The statement by the Howard County associate superintendent of finance and operations, The Baughers brought this to the medias attention ... we keep our negotiations for property confidential, would seem to indicate the school board thinks the best policy to solve their space needs is a closed-door policy.

Though they wield tremendous power, local school boards in Howard are elected directly by the community they serve. They can also be unelected.

We teach respect for diversity in school. Do we not also insist that we uphold such high standards in the real world? In school, were taught the inter-connectiveness of life is this ecosystem we call Earth. Make a change in one habitat, you affect others.

The same is true when directors of fiscal services wield their problem-solving hammer to quick-fix a shortrange planning problem. You may have one problem solved now, but what about our future needs?

There are alternatives to the eminent domain decision the school board has said is its best move. There are existing buildings that could be retrofitted, vacant lots that could be infilled, acres of impervious parking lots that could be subdivided and developed.

Pat Page

Westminster

Horse center of benefit to Columbia residents

I am concerned about the current discussions in the press regarding the closure of the Columbia Horse Center. My daughter attends the center and has benefited considerably. I understand the financial pressures, but somehow prescribing death as a cure doesnt serve our the town of Columbias mission of unbiased support of its citizens.

If the Columbia Association discontinues it support of the horse center I believe it will be construed as a sexist act, one that hurts the female population of Columbia.

I cant think of another CA funded activity that is as predominately female as the horse center.

In my neighborhood this is an issue. I have talked with several voting women and all agree this does appear to be damaging to our young female citizens.

Christopher Lea

Columbia

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