By Ken Rossignol
THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY
News and Commentary
LEONARDTOWN, MD. — The St. Mary’s School Board’s unexpected budget deficit which gave St. Mary’s Commissioner Todd Morgan the opportunity to show his business acumen by bludgeoning the educators over their failure will take a new turn on Monday. St. Mary’s Commissioner Larry Jarboe will propose that the county commissioners fund the deficit in the school budget, thereby saving the jobs of perhaps dozens of school employees.
In making plans for his budget session proposal, Jarboe points out that favorite project of Commissioner Todd Morgan is to build a ‘road to nowhere’ to pad the pockets of developers who will benefit from the FDR Blvd. while at the same time that Morgan fileted the school board in a bully-session two weeks ago over their unraveled budget.
Morgan’s bloody assault on the school board, complete with lectures and grandstanding took many by surprise and ignores the record of the county commissioners in paying twice the appraised value of the Hayden Farm in a fishy deal arranged by Morgan’s pals on the former board of commissioners. Morgan’s own proposal to build the FDR Blvd. a sixty-million boondoggle will match up with the $5 million redo of Great Mills Road.
The school system has worked hard to reach fiscal savings in the past seven years of national financial meltdown and eliminated many supervisory positions to keep their budget balanced.
Morgan’s new status as a commissioner without opposition in the election has apparently gone to his head and boosted his ego to new bounds, but the fact remains that the school system needs to be funded and bloviating by bullies won’t do the trick.
Jarboe’s formula to save the school employees from losing their jobs will come from moving $6 million from the capital budget for the Morgan-backed FDR Blvd. and giving the school board the money it needs to balance its budget.
School Board President Dr. Sal Raspa said on Sunday that he really appreciates Jarboe’s plan and hopes the votes will be on the commissioner board to pass the solution. School Superintendent Dr. Michael Martirano agreed with Raspa that Jarboe’s plan is welcome and eagerly looks forward to passage by the commissioners.
Jarboe provided this statement to The Chesapeake Today: “There are many challenges to resolve the fiscal shortfall the St. Mary’s Board of Education has experienced due to the Board members gambling with health care allocations. Obviously, they should have trusted the estimate provided by CareFirst.
“Rather than berate or bully fellow elected officials, cooler heads must prevail to find solutions to protect blue collar non-union support employees like teachers’ aides or substitute teachers who in no way contributed to the present crisis.
“The solutions will not be immediate as union and health care negotiations take months. Board of Ed employees must help meet these fiscal restraints as well as County Commissioners who have funded special interests and pet projects.
“For example, during the next 4 year term, FDR Boulevard construction will cost 18 million dollars and will require a trip to the bond market. By delaying the project for 4 years, we save 1.5 million dollars in debt service each year. Four times 1.5 million dollars is six million dollars. Ultimately, we should make developers pay for this infrastructure improvement and save St. Mary’s taxpayers 60 million dollars.
“A portion of the BRAC Reserve Fund could be reallocated to forward fund bills that must be paid. Quality public education is probably second only to our prime location on the Patuxent River for keeping our Navy Base operational and thriving.
“The savings from delaying FDR construction could be placed back into the BRAC Reserve Fund. Or, the new County Commissioners could review the plans to deal with the BOE shortfall and prioritize education over special interests thus protecting the County in future years without funding “Sky is Falling” slush funds or thousands of dollars for consultants who do not understand the history and rich heritage of the Mother County.
“Bottom line, public education and public safety should be priorities of good government rather than putting up a $25,000.00 sign in homage to the Judge who tried to move the Circuit Court function out of the heart of Leonardtown.
“The St. Mary’s County Board of Education may have made a costly mistake but the majority of our elected officials in Annapolis and Leonardtown need a remedial course in history.”