Parents go to County Council to get change in school policy
My colleague, Mary Gail Hare, provided the following post:
Baltimore County parents, frustrated with a lack of response from school administrators, took their pitch for more accessibility to school facilities to the Council Council Monday. They demanded a reversal of school policy that prevents them from holding fundraisers, community meetings, even some student gatherings in school buildings.
"In this economy and in the face of budget cuts, now is not the time to ban safe and successful parent group-sponsored craft fairs and flea markets," said Leslie Weber, PTSA president at Loch Raven High, which received a one-year waiver and will hold its craft fair on March 26.
Sixteen speakers each delivered the message that the buildings are taxpayer financed and owned and should be open to the public as long as the proper safeguards are in place. Although the council has no authority over the board of education, members can advocate for their constituents.
Alice Rhodes, a parent at Timonium Elementary and a craft vendor who lost a spot when school officials canceled the Dulaney High fair last fall, even brought props - a pizza box, wrapping paper and a candle. "If the craft fairs no longer take place, the PTA will be forced to increase its direct donation and direct sales programs," Rhodes said. "Children will be forced to go door to door to sell merchandise to strangers. How much overpriced wrapping paper, pizza and junk imported from China can we buy?"
The speakers also referenced canceled fundraisers for long established charities such as Toys for Tots. The most telling denial of use came from a mother of a child with Down's Syndrome. Her daughter and several other students with disabilities met after classes at their high school once a month, until officials canceled the gatherings. A private school immediately offered the students space to continue meeting.
The school board has scheduled a review of the facilities policy at its retreat March 19.