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The Tentacle


May 21, 2009

Squirreling Away Part 1

Joan Marie Aquilino

The Board of Education seems to have "found" a $4.1 million surplus from the current year. It saved so much money from conserving things such as electricity, by turning off the lights, that we now have an excess. They are having a little trouble remembering to whom the money actually belongs.

 

Teachers, please pay attention; you are being sold a bill of goods by the school board, the administration, and – most likely – your own union. This goes for parents, students, taxpayers and athletes, also. I had hoped things could be tweaked and changed, but, honestly, after this budget season, I think there is no choice left but a total and complete rebuild. I’ve never seen anything quite so out of control as this school system is right now.

 

I need to give a bit of a disclaimer before throwing around anymore numbers. It’s very difficult to give exact amounts, mainly because the lights keep getting turned off, and we’re left in the dark to figure things out.

 

An additional $2 plus million the school board never told the Board of County Commissioners, or the public, existed, has turned up in school system coffers. Keep in mind that all that “extra” money is yours; it’s your tax money, and it’s not school board property. Anyone see a little credibility issue going on here?

 

School board member Daryl Boffman has said on numerous occasions the county just needs to raise taxes to fulfill Frederick County Public School’s wish lists. My return comment would be: Why don’t you become fiscally responsible with the money you have, not the other way around. How many times does the school system cry wolf (they have no money) before someone calls their bluff? I’m calling it! Anyone else with me?

 

Now here's a little twist I bet no one saw coming. All of a sudden the school board wants to be fiscally responsible and forward fund the lease on their new central office building by putting those “found” millions in an account with SunTrust bank to hold for lease payments.

 

Once again, by putting it in SunTrust it can only be used for the purpose of the building. It will be their building’s raining day funding source. Funny how they wanted to raid the county rainy day fund and now they want their own with no ability to touch it other than for the new central office building. As with the superintendents’ contract, the central building contract has no protections for taxpayers.

 

Here is your assignment, please get back to me on how this helps our children? This is all operating money that comes directly from the students. Keep in mind that a new building could have been obtained and leased without having to build on Carroll Creek. How about all the schools (mainly right around this building) that are falling down around the teachers and students. What about putting the children from those schools in the new central office building until their schools are remodeled or rebuilt? That will never happen.

 

Please remember also that when times were better, the county did its level best to fund everything – and then some – for the school board. They forward funded numerous school projects to get them on line when the state refused. The school board was always first in line with their hands out and it usually got filled.

 

Seems they (the school board and the administration) feel no obligation to either remember or repay that kindness. Not only that, but Hal Keller, (Executive Director of Fiscal Services for Frederick County Public Schools) sent in a Freedom of Information request as a private citizen requesting all renovations to county buildings dating back to the 70s. (See the end of today’s segment for the complete text of Mr. Keller’s letter.)

 

How about if we get right on that request and charge him as a private citizen for all the time it will require to gather all that information. Tit-for-Tat game playing of this caliber really angers me. Grow the hell up is what I want to say to them all! You are playing games with my money. Get over yourself, and do your job.

 

This is another one of those “ah ha” moments that the superintendent likes to speak so fondly about.

 

We don’t have money; teachers – cut, diving – gone, athletic fees – up, event ticket prices – up, no money for diving boards, recycling, or buses, etc. Yet we are going to sock away millions to pay a lease that does nothing to benefit children, and takes money away from them that isn’t even due yet.

 

Another question for you, 52 “teacher” specialist positions cut from 12 month to 11 month position; 18 of those positions are school based, yet I can’t find one of them in an actual classroom. And the biggest “ah-ha” is that 34 positions are in the central office. These positions are really special because they are not in a classroom, not even in a school, yet they are still called teachers. Just seems a bit odd to me. How about you?

 

More tomorrow………….’til then…

 

May 16, 2009

 

Mr. John S. Mathias

County Attorney

Winchester Hall

12 East Church Street

Frederick, Maryland 21701

 

Dear Mr. Mathias,

 

My name is Harold K. Keller, Jr. (editor removed address) Under the Maryland Public Information Act, I request the following information;

 

I. Rear Annex of Winchester Hall

 

a. The date in the late 1970s that substantial completion occurred after the initial construction of this addition to Winchester Hall.

 

b. The total amount of the cost to design, build and equip that project.

 

II. East Wing of Winchester Hall

 

a. The date in the 1980s that substantial completion occurred after the renovation of this wing of Winchester Hall.

 

b. The total amount of the cost to design, demolish, rebuild and equip that project.

 

III. West Wing of Winchester Hall

 

a. The date in the 1990s that substantial completion occurred after the renovation of this wing of Winchester Hall.

 

b. The total amount of the cost to design, demolish, rebuild and equip that project.

 

IV. East Wing of Winchester Hall

 

a. The date in the 2000s that substantial completion (if finished, if not then the expected date of completion) occurred after this renovation of this wing of Winchester Hall.

 

b. The total amount of the cost to design, demolish, rebuild and equip that project, if completed (if not then the total estimated cost of
project when completed).

 

V. Rear Annex of Winchester Hall

 

a. The date in the 2000s that substantial completion (if finished, if not then the expected date of completion) occurred after this renovation of this wing of Winchester Hall.

 

b. The total amount of the cost to design, demolish, rebuild and equip that project, if completed (if not then the total estimated cost of project when completed).

 

VI Winchester Hall

 

a. Please provide a list of all agencies, departments and offices that where located in Winchester Hall on July 1, 1979 and were not located at that location on July 1,2Q08 (such as Internal Audit, Public Works, Metropolitan Commission or its successor designation, Frederick County Health Department, etc.).

 

b. Please provide a list of any other projects greater than $250,000 in value for work on Winchester Hall that were included in any Board of County Commissioner Approved Capital Budget from 1970 to 2009).

 

VII. Board of Education building, 115 East Church Street

 

a. Please provide a list of any projects greater than $250,000 in value for renovations to this building that were included in any Board of County Commissioner Approved Capital Budget from 1970 to 2009.

 

b. Please provide a list of any projects greater than $250,000 in value for repairs to this building that were included in any Board of County Commissioner Approved Capital Budget from 1970 to 2009.

 

c. Please provide a list of any projects greater than $250,000 in value for any other project for this building that were included in any Board of County Commissioner Approved Capital Budget from 1970 to 2009.

 

Your prompt attention to this request is greatly appreciated.

 

Sincerely,

/s/

 

Harold K. Keller, Jr.

[Editor removed address]

 

 

Cc: Board of Education of Frederick County

Board of Frederick County Commissioners

Editor, Frederick News/Post

Editor, Frederick Gazette

 

 



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