State legislators who have asked Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz to save nearly 200 teaching positions have their answer—and it's not the one they were hoping to hear.
Kamenetz, in a letter released today, cited budgetary constraints and cuts in state aid to the county as the primary factors why the positions cannot be restored.
"Unfortunately, while I am appreciative of the efforts of our delegation to increase education funding, restoring the teacher/student ratio positions at the same level as last year's budget does not appear possible at this time," Kamenetz wrote.
Last week, more than a dozen legislators sent the county executive a letter asking him to find the money to restore nearly 200 teacher positions that are expected to be eliminated as part of the Baltimore County Public Schools proposed budget for next year.
The proposed school system budget will be part of Kamenetz's first budget as county executive. He is scheduled to present that budget to the County Council next week.
In an interview last week, Kamenetz told Patch he would need nearly $16 million to restore the teaching positions. Cuts in state aid to the county and new costs the state is passing on to the county make it impossible to find the needed funds.
In his letter to legislators, Kamenetz said that figure jumps to $24.8 million when the county adds in additional costs related to fully funding health care in the board of education budget.
The county executive made the exact same arguments in his letter today to legislators.
Del. Steve Lafferty, vice chairman of the county House delegation, said he had not seen Kamenetz's letter when asked about it by a reporter.
The Towson Democrat said the county executive had gone over all of the budget numbers with him during a meeting last week.
Lafferty said that while he understands "that the county has taken an overall cut" he still hoped that Kamenetz would look for ways to restore the teaching positions.
One suggestion Lafferty offered was to move money within the school system's proposed budget to fund the positions.
"I'm not sure he can compel the superintendent to spend the money in the way he wants, but I think it's an important message to send," Lafferty said.
Next best thing to being there
Del. John A. Olszewski Jr. and Sen. Kathy Klausmeier have scheduled a 10:30 a.m. meeting with the media Friday to discuss their private meeting with Baltimore County Public Schools Superintendent Joe A. Hairston.
The chairs of the House and Senate delegations are scheduled to hold a private breakfast meeting with Hairston to discuss concerns about the hiring of new Deputy Superintendent Renee Foose, her reported $214,000 salary and the schools system's handling of the issue with the media—particularly its refusal to release salary information requested by Patch 28 days ago.
Hairston, in a recent interview on WBAL radio, said criticisms leveled against him were nothing more than personal attacks.
Olszewski and Klausmeier asked Hairston for the meeting. Both said they had hoped it would be in public during a joint meeting of the House and Senate delegations. Klausmeier said Hairston agreed to meet on the condition that it be only with them and that it was not open to the public.
Patch on the Air
Although actress Ashley Judd told WBAL radio's Bill Vanko this morning that she is "abstinent of all press and media," luckily enough for the jilted news anchor, Patch is very media friendly. Listen to Vanko and I talk about county politics with Vanko, including deer hunting in Baltimore County Parks and, of course, Hairston's meeting with Olszewski and Klausmeier.