We had a good sized audience for today’s speakers.  Two incumbents and two hopeful of being elected to the Kent County Board of Education.  Each was given 10 minutes for their own introduction and then the floor was opened for questions and many thought provoking statements by audience participants.  It was informative and rewarding for those in attendance.  As today’s event is early in the campaign, some of the questions and issues raised may help the candidates to better form future talking points and to be even more fully prepared to respond  in the balance of the time remaining before election day.

We asked, in advance, that each candidate be able to personally define what “fully funded” means.  This term is often casually used in the mix of explanations given for so many things to do with funding of schools.  Each candidate gave it a go.  We never ought to expect all the money that is requested to simply be delivered.  We live in times where there are constant demands to pay more and more taxes.  People don’t want to pay more without guarantees of positive effectiveness.   Those on the Board of Education are the public’s buffer between the demand for more funding and the limitation of revenue being collected.

We are left in a quandary.  Can we truly hope to provide first rate basic education against the large presence of long term poverty and its effects?   Is it realistic to think that what the public schools might offer will be competitive with first rate private education where parental support is demanded, courses are more oriented to the gifted rather than the average or struggling student, and where the effects of poverty are virtually removed?  What must the public schools concentrate on achieving?  What is beyond the scope of public education?  What is optional, what are the priorities of those options, and what is absolutely mandated?

In the end, the Board of Education acts as the elected representatives of the public, advises the school administration and County Commissioners.  The BOE members fit the budget handed to them by the school administration to work with the revenue supplied to them by the the State and County.  This is no easy task.  Cutting the amount of requested funds to fit the revenue is a task which creates controversy.  We commend the BOE members for the patience required of them, their commitment to the public, the students, the schools, and to education.


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