Sunday, December 14, 2008

Upcoming AACPS budget hearings

Regarding the upcoming budget hearings (see AACPS press release below), will both the January 13 and January 15 hearings be televised on the Board of Education’s new $400,000 TV system? (Not to mention the millions of dollars spent on the complete AACPS telecommunications network.) In most school systems, budget hearings are the most popular regularly scheduled hearing of the year to watch on TV.

A related question is whether the Glen Burnie hearing will be televised. Past experience with the AACPS public relations personnel leads me to believe the answer will be “no.” Contrary to AACPS excuses, however, this really has little to do with technology. In Burlington, Vermont (where I once served as a school board member), we televised the Board of Education budget hearings wherever they were located.

Even if a school district cannot cover a hearing in real time, if it is already paying for TV staff (and AACPS has a princely TV operation), then it costs minimal money to set up a TV camera and televise the hearing. In rural towns in Vermont (with populations as small as a fiftieth the size of Anne Arundel County), it’s often community volunteers, including high school students and civic associations such as the League of Women Voters, who televise the public meetings and candidate debates—regardless of location. With the County’s $1 million public access TV studio in Glen Burnie, surely a volunteer could be found to televise the budget hearing at Glen Burnie High School.

Note that Anne Arundel County taxpayers have spent millions of dollars connecting the public schools to an ultra high speed broadband network (the backbone runs at 20 gigabytes per second and each high school and middle school gets at least 2.5 gigabit per second access; this is about a thousand times the broadband speeds most Anne Arundel County residents get at home from their local cable or telco provider). Moreover, this network can be connected into the cable system. Thus, even when the budget hearings are held at Glen Burnie High School, they should be accessible in real time to the entire community.

It would be a good contribution to local democracy, too, if a local civic organization would take responsibility for televising the upcoming public meetings of the School Board Nominating Commission (SBNC). The members of the SBNC would be unlikely to shower that civic association with praise. But do local civic associations exist to flatter the powerful or provide a voice to the people?

Important News - FY2010 Budget Proposal delivered Wed, 12/17


Board schedules budget hearings, workshop

The next meeting of the Anne Arundel County Board of Education will be
held on Wednesday, December 17, 2008, in the Board Room at the Parham
Building, 2644 Riva Road, Annapolis.

During the meeting, schools Superintendent Dr. Kevin M. Maxwell will
deliver his recommended Fiscal Year 2010 operating and capital budgets
to the Board of Education.

The Board will meet at 5:30 p.m. to vote to go into Executive Session,
during which time it will discuss confidential matters including, but
not limited to, legal advice, personnel, and negotiations. Executive
Session is closed to the public.

The general session of the meeting, which is open to the public, will
begin at 7:00 p.m.

A complete agenda will be posted on December 11, 2008, on the AACPS Web
site,, in the Board Docs section under the Board of
Education tab.


The Board of Education has scheduled two public hearings and a public
workshop on Dr. Maxwell's budget recommendation. Public hearings
will be held on Tuesday, January 13, 2009, at Glen Burnie High School,
and Thursday, January 15, 2009, in the Board Room at the Parham Building
in Annapolis. Both hearings begin at 7:00 p.m. Those wishing to testify
can sign up beginning at 6:00 p.m. Testimony will be limited to three
minutes per person.

A public workshop on Dr. Maxwell's budget recommendation will be
held at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, January 27, 2009, in the Board Room at the
Parham Building. No public testimony will be taken at the workshop.