Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr., right, speaks at a press conference announcing an opioid work group. Former Maryland health secretary Joshua Sharfstein, left, and Baltimore County health department director Dr. Gregory Branch are also pictured.
Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr., right, speaks at a press conference announcing an opioid work group. Former Maryland health secretary Joshua Sharfstein, left, and Baltimore County health department director Dr. Gregory Branch are also pictured. (Libby Solomon/Towson Times / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Just about everyone acknowledges public education is the most important service the government can provide. Going back to our founding fathers, it was evident to them that an educated electorate is the key to our society. No wonder the Baltimore County Executive and Baltimore County Council have heard from constituents across our county as to the importance of public education.

Ask any realtor about the necessity of good schools in order to sell houses, or ask any boss trying to locate a business to an area about the necessity of good schools to attract quality workers to their businesses. Ask any family with children or grandchildren how much quality schools matter to them.

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Therefore, now after much debate and worries over the Baltimore County School Board budget for fiscal year 2020, the County Council passed the entire school budget proposal that County Executive John A. Olszewski Jr. put forward (“Divided Baltimore County Council approves county's first income tax increase in decades but cuts proposed phone tax,” May 23). We all understood that the original budget was larger than the county would be able to afford for next school year given the budget deficit our county executive faced as he entered office. We worked closely with him, even providing some areas we felt could be cut with a minimum of issues for students and staff. We applaud the county executive for not only his collaboration with stakeholders, but with his common-sense, forward thinking in building his first budget. We know this budget doesn’t address all the needs we have in our schools, but it has begun to put more teachers in our classrooms, including many supportive positions to help our neediest students become more successful. With the inclusion of more positions for social workers, psychologists, school counselors and ESOL teachers to name a few, these very important supports will begin to address these needs.

As the budget moved to the county council, we again worked closely with several of the County Council members, including Chairman Tom Quirk. We are thankful the council realized there was no fat in the school system budget and decided to leave the school system budget intact. The council truly worked in a bi-partisan manner as they faced the really tough issues, including raising revenues. Council members Quirk, Izzy Patoka, A. Wade Kach, Julian Jones, David Marks and Cathy Bevins are to be commended and thanked for not only providing the means for this budget to become a reality, but for understanding that public education is the underpinning of our county, state and nation. The Teachers Association of Baltimore County looks forward to working with both the county executive and the County Council in the future to ensure our students receive the education they deserve and our teachers, administrators and support staff have the tools they need to provide the best education possible.

Cindy Sexton and Abby Beytin, Towson

The writers are president-elect and president of TABCO, respectively.

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