Wicomico County Council: the Holloway & Holloway show

I’m told the fix was in from the start. But last night Wicomico County Council added its newest member in District 4’s John Hall and reorganized. Out was two-year County Council President Gail Bartkovich of District 3 and in was former Council Vice-President Joe Holloway of District 5. He was replaced by at-large member Matt Holloway.

And while Joe Holloway announced the decision was by unanimous consent, the lone Democrat on the body chose to wait until Council comments to express her dissent. Maybe Joe didn’t hear her in the hubbub, but I don’t think Sheree Sample-Hughes needed to take up an attitude, just politely state that for the record the vote was not unanimous.

But this post is more about the direction I’d like to see the County Council take us in.

I get the sense that County Council is afraid to lead. Somehow I believe they feel that the County Executive received some sort of mandate and we shouldn’t cross him. So let’s review the 2010 election – remember, the one where Republicans got a 6-1 Council majority?

The “mandate” for Rick Pollitt was a three-point electoral victory over a candidate who had never previously sought political office and crossed against his party on at least one issue (support for an elected school board.) If people had thought Rick had done such a good job I would have expected no less than a 20-point win.

On the other hand, consider that the 7 Republicans who ran for County Council received just over 48,000 votes. That proved to be almost exactly 65% of the vote. Even if you subtract out the three districts where Republicans were unopposed by a Democratic candidate, the GOP still received 56.5% of the vote. Now THAT is a mandate – so let’s use it.

It’s long past time to use some veto power and start bringing certain people to heel.

I sat and watched last night’s County Council meeting, particularly the period of public comment when a series of soccer moms stood up and whined about how bad the schools have it. Their solution seems to be that the schools need more money, and we just have to somehow come up with another $5 to 7 million or there would be drastic measures like no extracurricular activities.

I have to give Gail Bartkovich credit for reminding those who complained about the dilapidated state of Bennett Middle School that the building was in good shape not that many years ago – seems like the maintenance started going downhill when the school board smelled a pot of money to build a new school with.

But, being a veteran of I don’t know how many school levies the school systems in Ohio had to pass (because their law requires a vote on any property tax appropriation above and beyond a ten mill limit, which means almost anything needs to go to voters now) it seemed like the cuts to extracurricular activities were the favorite scare tactic to coerce parents into voting for schools. Hey, football is king in Ohio, what can we say?

It’s funny that we never hear about having to cut fifteen administrators. It’s always about increasing class sizes or eliminating bus service or library hours. As I recall one lady saying about the conditions at Bennett Middle, there were 900 students and over 100 staff suffering. That’s a staff member for every nine students! If you have a class of 25 students (and I’m conceding a bit since I regularly went to school with 30 kids per class in my day) that’s sure more than just the teacher.

Anyway, I’ve gotten a little bit far afield here. I hope the bulldog attitude Joe Holloway has exhibited in his five years on County Council extends to his presidential term and sets the new tone. As for Matt Holloway, I need to be convinced that he won’t be a soft touch. He was the one I didn’t vote for in the primary so my jury is still out on him. If the County Council wants to meet with these parents and listen to their whining, that’s fine and dandy. Just remind them that higher taxes means a lower standard of living for those of us who don’t depend on the school board’s teat.

When I hear about administration being cut to the bone and overhead slashed to zero, then I might believe the school board’s sob stories.

Author: Michael

It's me from my laptop computer.

One thought on “Wicomico County Council: the Holloway & Holloway show”

  1. That whole set up to bombard the council with crying mothers demanding we spend millions we don’t have on a new school via higher taxes, didn’t sit very well with me and neither did the push back I received from them about what the actual cost per student is. They are either woefully ignorant to the financial matters of the county, the state, the country, the BOE, and current economic conditions or they are purposely misstating information for their agenda.

    The council’s pandering of this group didn’t sit with me well either. Throwing more money at the problem hasn’t worked in recent years anyway. I know everyone cares about children’s education here, but that’s not what was being discussed. What was being discussed was robbing their futures via, adding more to their debt, not the quality of their education.

    Last night I spoke to the council on the subject of funding for the Board of Education during the public comments. I had not planned to speak, but it seems there is an effort afoot to deal with the Board of Education budget issues, by raising taxes or repealing the Revenue cap.

    Sometime back I had researched the cost per pupil in the state and in the county and I was shocked. As I said during my comments, I wasn’t quite sure but I thought that I recalled the cost was around $16,000. I was challenged on that number and it turns out, I was off by a little. However, I was much closer than the “Parents in Action” group that thought the cost per pupil was $2,500.

    According to the state of Maryland, the average cost per pupil is currently $14,351 a year! I have shopped private schools and both Holy Grove and Salisbury Christian run about 5K – 6K a year. That is some disparity and it leads me to believe there is some misappropriations of funding in government schools.

    Here is the overall funding break down:
    Federal, State and local funds combined to provide $11.8 billion for Maryland public schools with an average cost per pupil of $14,351 in Fiscal Year 2011. Of these funds, State government appropriated the greatest amount ($5,717,451,895), followed by local government ($5,378,941,293), and federal government ($715,921,027).


    Wicomico is less, but not a ton less. I have seen different numbers ranging from approximately $9,000 per pupil to $11,000 per pupil depending if staff pensions are calculated in or not. I would like to know to what that exact number was for 2011, including pensions.

    My point was I am sure we can do more with less. Be prepared to hear more from this group screaming for more’money from everyone else, and if you dare point out some facts or reality, be prepared to get rolling of the eyes and how we “must raise your taxes for the children.”

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