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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


Must be better way  to budget for schools

What is the point, one might ask, of the Worcester County Teachers Association negotiating teachers’ salaries with the board of education if the board of education has no power to guarantee the deal?

Although the board is trying to honor the terms of the agreement it struck with the association as part of its budget process, the school board’s ability to deliver on its promises is entirely dependent on county government’s willingness to go along with the program.

Because governments don’t actually make anything to sell and can’t legally profit by charging fees higher than the cost of services they deliver, they must get their income through various taxes and fees they impose.

School boards, however, can’t do that. They are at the mercy of state and county governments, even though they are not a branch of either.

The school board is an independent entity that’s more answerable to the state board of education than it is to the county or any other government authority. Except for money.

There are probably a thousand good arguments against it, but public school systems in this state should have their own taxing authority if they are to be responsible for setting the payroll.

Otherwise, as has been shown by the recent budget battle between the school board and the commissioners, good faith negotiations between teachers and school boards are more like hope-for-the-best negotiations.

The commissioners, of course, contend that they are not preventing the board of education from giving raises or doing whatever it wants, and that they are only fulfilling their obligation as the county paymaster to account for where the money goes.

In the meantime, the elected board of education and the school system are supposed to operate as an independent agency, when it’s not independent at all.

It doesn’t make sense and  somewhere, somehow there must be a better way to do this.