Thursday, May 08, 2014

A Board of Ed Candidate at a Sewer Hearing?

Lately, nothing in Queen Anne's County has been as controversial as the debate about a sewer pipe. Many county citizens, elected officials, and political hopefuls, are involved in the discussion about whether or not to connect the communities of Southern Kent Island to a sewer line that would largely preclude the need for outdated and outmoded septic tanks that pose a threat to human health and environmental safety.

One of the major issues raised by a Southern Kent Island sewer is anticipating the new residential development that might accompany such a sewer line. Growth impacts the county's public schools in a profound way. Growth impacts our physical education infrastructure (school buildings and buses are asked to accommodate more children) and of course, residential growth impacts class size, and perhaps most profoundly, the school budget. Of course, growth can certainly be beneficial to the school system, bringing new teachers to the area, and adding to the diversity of views in our classrooms.  

It is not the job of the Board of Education to manage growth or even to judge growth. But how can the Board efficiently and effectively manage the school system for today and for the future, if it is completely in the dark on issues related to growth that will impact the system? How would a sewer line alter Matapeake Elementary and Middle and Kent Island High School? Our Board of Education needs to know enough about what is happening to get out in front of these challenges. 

Being a member of the Board of Education is more complicated and detail oriented than most candidates assume or expect. The Board is tasked with the job of running a system with an $80 million annual budget, educating more than 7,000 children, and serving in some way, shape, or form, each of the county's 50,000 citizens. In that role, I think candidates for the Board, and members of the Board, have an obligation to the citizens to be as informed as possible about what is going on in the county.

I am the only candidate in district 2 who knows the language that the county uses to talk about growth. I have read our comprehensive plan, I have worked at length on the Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance, and grow frustrated when it becomes clear that even current members of the Board of Education have at best a fumbling knowledge of the APFO, an important policy for mitigating the impact of growth on our schools and on our taxpayers.

The Board of Education is no place for a growth-related agenda one way or the other. But knowing and understanding the projects being considered, and understanding their many complexities, prepares me better than any of my opponents for being a productive member of the Board of Education, one that can make decisions that are wise for what the county looks like today, and what it might look like tomorrow.

I hope I can earn your vote, and thank you for your support.

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