Last week’s demonstration in support of building a new Buckingham Elementary School in Berlin brought out scores of residents and parents who obviously believe that the state’s denial of funding for the project was a political decision.
There’s no reason to believe otherwise, considering the flimsy justification the Interagency Committee of School Construction used to defend its rejection of the school board’s request for $17 million to help build the school.
The circumstances of the committee’s actions support that conclusion, since the state has the money and had awarded a comparable amount in aid to help build the new Showell Elementary School a few years earlier for the same reasons Buckingham needs to be replaced.
More curious, however, is that the committee in December agreed to give Worcester $1 million to design the new school only to reverse itself a few weeks later when, coincidentally or not, the General Assembly was in session.
Given the weak reasoning the committee employed to back up its rejection of the school board’s funding request — a new school isn’t needed because classroom space is available several miles away — the suspicion is that someone at the state level saw an opportunity to stick it to an increasingly conservative Republican county asking for help from a Democratically controlled government.
Add to that Worcester’s $18 billion tax base (next door Wicomico’s is less than half that at $7.5 billion), the lowest county income tax in the state, and the third lowest property tax rate, and it’s easy to understand why this county gets little sympathy in Annapolis on the matter of education spending.
The fact is, however, Buckingham Elementary school students don’t vote and have no political alignment. They’re kids, and they need the better learning environment that a new school would provide.
Otherwise, the thumb in the eye administered to Worcester County is nothing more than a political statement made at the expense of children.