I am writing to bring attention to the need for adequate Carroll County school funding — a matter of utmost importance to our community.

The county has been depriving our schools of the funding needed to support our students and communities and implement the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future. The blame, however, doesn’t lie with our current Board of County Commissioners, which has approved an increase for this year.

Previous county commissioners voted against local tax increases while they also changed funding priorities, such as switching from a volunteer fire department to a combination volunteer and paid department. The citizens of Carroll deserve quality services, but they come at a cost. Some decisions put the current Board of County Commissioners in a tough financial position, which in turn affected Carroll County Public Schools and the system’s ability to hire and retain qualified educators.

As Superintendent Cynthia McCabe has stated at numerous town hall meetings, surrounding counties are better equipped to handle the national educator shortage because they retained additional staff that they needed to stay nimble. Austerity measures implemented during the past decade in Carroll County have forced the school system to eliminate positions at a concerning rate. In the period between 2010 and 2019, 200 positions in our schools were cut.

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Carroll County Public Schools and the Carroll County Education Association have signed on to a collective bargaining agreement earlier than ever before because both parties understood the need to act quickly and to demonstrate to the commissioners that we are united in a common cause. For years, the commissioners have told us we need to settle before they work on the budget, and we did it.

In addition, we are meeting the legal requirement of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future that all certificated educators receive a minimum salary of $60,000. This will allow Carroll County Public Schools to attract the best educators possible at a time when schools nationwide are scrambling to fill their positions. While recruiting is important, we also need to retain our experienced educators and the overall increase in salaries will help our school system retain them.

This is an issue that cannot wait. Carroll County’s students and families deserve quality public education. The Carroll County Education Association acknowledges the difficult decisions the current Board of Commissioners must make, and we are grateful for a funding increase for this year that gives us the means to provide the best education possible for all of Carroll County’s children.

Celeste M. Jordan, Westminster

Celeste M. Jordan is president of the Carroll County Education Association.

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