Anne Arundel budget battle
The sky-is-falling scenarios are emerging again in Anne Arundel, as school officials battle the county executive for more money for the district. The district asked the county for $77.5 million. It got $26 million.
Superintendent Kevin M. Maxwell is considering this week options for paring back his central office staff by 200 positions. He's talking about making school hotter in the summer and cooler in the winter to save on utility costs. He's considering leaving 200 teaching positions vacant, which threatens to double class sizes in some of the district's smaller schools. The local union leaders are also on edge about the possibility of the district not honoring negotiated raises -- which could cause a credibility crisis for the 74,000-student school system that's struggling to retain and recruit qualified staff.
So, as all these scenarios emerge, you'd think the superintendent and County Executive John R. Leopold would be meeting and talking about a compromise -- how to live within the county's strained budget, but still not force the schools to make draconian cuts. But no. There's no talk. In the coming weeks, both sides simply plan to lob salvos at each other through dueling columns in local newspapers. It promises to be a feisty budget battle, but I'm afraid, not a particularly productive one.
Alicia Toloczko, a parent from Riviera Beach Elementary, who's been ping-ponged around as she tried to lobby the schools and county government to deal with the budget more reasonably, summed up the cost of this protracted, petty battle like this: "In the end, it's the children who lose out. They're the ones that pay so that these two people (Maxwell and Leopold) can each try to get their own way."