• Stay in Garrett County

  • Question 1:

    In May, a state task force commissioned by the Legislature, voted 12-3 to recommend to the Governor that Maryland Schools should start after Labor Day. A poll of 708 residents released by the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center at Goucher College found that 71 percent of those asked said they supported moving the start of school until after Labor Day. And an online poll conducted by the Cumberland Times News received more than 80% support for this initiative. The strategy has been proven to work successfully in other states including Michigan, which has similar weather issues, and has generated significant additional revenue without raising taxes and without negatively impacting the students. The Governor has since signed a petition supporting the initiative. Given the financial situation of Garrett County Schools, do you support a post-Labor Day start for Maryland schools?

    District 1 Candidate Responses

    Stuart Harvey
    Children need quality time spent with their parents. Starting back to school from summer vacation after Labor Day would be supported by me. We do not need school in session year-round. This would also be good for summer work programs where students are given a few more  days or another vacation which ever the case may be. I would be against school starting before Labor Day.

    Matthew Paugh
    A post-Labor school start presents many interesting issues to be considered.  From the Board of Education’s perspective, student achievement ranks as the top priority.  Educators have concerns with the amount of instructional time available before state-mandated testing begins.  At the same time, I am familiar with the data pertaining to potential additional tax revenues and economic activity associated with post-Labor day starts. While I generally support local autonomy in these matters, the post-labor day start could only work as a state-mandated option where it would put all students on somewhat equal footing in regard to testing. 


  • District 2 Candidate Responses

    Tom Carr
    It is the Board's mandated duty to educate our children. Our business community needs educated employees. Law requires 180 school days per year. State and national testing is done in April and May. Tested material cannot be taught after the test. Garrett County climate. in 2013-2014 a post Labor Day start would have taken classes to July 2. Each county needs to set its own calendar. Garrett's Calendar committee is comprised of stakeholders from the whole community. As a Michigan native I question the comparison. GC  needs to do what is best for its children.


  • District 2 Candidate Responses

    Tom Carr
    'strained communications' (real or rumored) are best remedied by engagement. Collective bargaining laws guide discussions with unions. We encourage the community to attend board meetings. Board meetings (except for personnel and legal issues) are held in public. Meetings are not, however, public meetings. Time for public comment is provided twice during meetings. Even though response to comments is not normally made during meetings, answers to appropriate questions are provided later, and Information is provided by the PI Officer on the website or through emails. No communications are censored. All are read and considered.


  • District 3 Candidate Responses

    Fred Gregg
    Until recently, the superintendent and the county administrator held informal monthly meetings aimed at improving the communication and working relationship between these two entities. When elected, I will insist that these meetings resume in some capacity.

    The Board of Education expects teachers to be professionals. In return, the Board of Education should respect and treat teachers as professionals.

    The Board of Education is accountable to the voters. Public participation, including questions and comments, should be welcomed and encouraged at public meetings. No decision will please everyone, but everyone should feel comfortable and confident in contributing to that final decision.

    Monica Rinker
    In order to improve the strained communications between the Board of Education and all parties involved, I strongly feel that they need and must sit down with an open, honest, and transparent exchange. Opinions and positions must be offered in a respectful manner in order to arrive at decisions that are in the best interest of our children. We need to know where we have been, where we are, and where we are going. A comprehensive plan and all parties involved need to be a part of the decision making process.


  • District 3 Candidate Responses

    Fred Gregg

    I absolutely support a post-Labor Day start. I was a teacher when this concept was initially proposed by local businesses. At that time, I voiced my support to members of the school calendar committee, but unfortunately that request was denied by the Board of Education. Additionally, every effort should be made to have the school year end as close to June 1 as possible. Obviously, the weather is beyond our control, but better decisions must be made in regard to cancelling school due to inclement weather, thus reducing the number of make-up days.

    Monica Rinker
    I certainly do support a post Labor Day start for Maryland schools. It is a win-win situation for students who have summer jobs and for businesses who depend on having them on the job until after Labor Day. County and state government will also benefit with increased revenues derived from family’s spending money over the now possible Labor Day weekend vacation.




  • Question 2:

    Even though student enrollment has declined, the overall budget for the Board of Education has increased over $800,000 since 2013 and the cost per pupil has risen to over $14,000, making Garrett County the 9th most expensive cost per pupil in the state. How will you address the budget issues, including using the facilities study that was completed last year and working with the unions to reduce costs?

    District 1 Candidate Responses

    Stuart Harvey

    Budget expense for the Board of Education has a lot of wasted spending in it. True cost of living may have went up, gasoline, parts, repairs, etc. but with school closings, teacher lay-offs, shorter bus routes and relocations,  where are they putting 'all their savings'?  Most everything involves money but they can use the money provided a lot more wisely and quit throwing it away. School system is helping drive students away by its actions.

    Matthew Paugh

    Balancing instructional needs with restricted funds will always present challenges.  As a Board member, part of my role includes advocating for as much education funding as possible.  Advocacy must take place at both the local and State level.  We must advocate for policies that give consideration to the challenges faced by rural and smaller districts.  The other side of the coin is that we must be wise stewards with the funds provided.  A possible consideration to help is development of a stakeholder group to review the budget using lean principles to focus on waste elimination while maintaining student value.


  • District 2 Candidate Responses

    Tom Carr

    Declining enrollment does not reduce needs for teachers, technology, and ancillary care. We have already reduced staff. The $800,000 was for capital expenses such as initial plans for the renovation of Southern Middle School, state mandated retirement passbacks, and textbooks. Highest per capita transportation costs in the State. The facilities study recommended school closings. Our last resort!!! It guides considerations in ever changing conditions. School systems, it has been proved, provide significant returns on investment.


  • District 3 Candidate Responses

    Fred Gregg
    There is not a “magic bullet” budget item that will solve our financial woes. It will require a combination of innovative strategies with everyone willing to accept a role -probably a sacrifice- in addressing the problem.

    Examples include:

    1. Working with the teacher’s association to create incentives to improve attendance, thereby reducing substitute teacher costs.

    2. Combining appropriate bus routes, due to decreased ridership, to transport students more cost-effectively.

    The facilities study is overvalued as it merely reflects the current state of our buildings as a result of past decisions, without the vision of how we need to proceed.

    Monica Rinker
    We’re in a difficult financial climate where funding is limited. We must make hard decisions and analyze the budget line by line, prioritize our spending, and eliminate expenditures that are not essential for learning. The facilities study provided a lot of information. However, this study must be thoroughly evaluated based on budgetary constraints. We need to provide clean, safe, heated, and well maintained schools, but we don’t need to spend on items that are inessential to learning. We don’t need a Cadillac when a Ford will serve the purpose.




  • Question 3:

    The financial challenges of Garrett County Schools have strained communications between the Board of Education and County Commission, teachers, voters and the general public including no longer answering questions at public meetings. How would you remedy this situation so that what is truly best for Garrett County is the core focus?


  • District 1 Candidate Responses

    Stuart Harvey
    I do not have a single curing answer nor a single focus for this question. I think it involves several views. Communication is a must between everyone involved. Communication is not a 'one way street', it includes both speech and listening. A lot of the public has lost trust and confidence in elected officials. I have asked questions that have went unanswered and ignored, this should not be.

    Matthew Paugh
    Improved communication starts with treating all parties with respect.  From there, being accountable and transparent is an important emphasis for me.  I voted against this year’s budget as I did not believe the process provided opportunity for significant public input.  Next year’s budget adoption schedule should provide numerous opportunities for pubic engagement.  Procedures allow an individual to request placement on the meeting agenda, speak to an item before the Board votes, or share during the meeting’s public portion.  Specific questions can be directed to the appropriate staff who should then follow up with the constituent and Board.