Businesses and Parents Rally Together for Wicomico Co. Board of - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Updated: Businesses and Parents Rally Together for Wicomico Co. Board of Education Funding

Posted: May 01, 2018 5:15 PM Updated:

SALISBURY, Md.- Business owners and parents alike packed the house at Tuesday night's Wicomico County Council public hearing. The Wicomico County Board of Education is requesting roughly $7 million additional dollars to its fiscal year 2019 budget.

Businesses and the region's top employers are banning together to support the funding of public education. They, as well as parents, came out Tuesday night to voice their concerns. Many were there to support Superintendent Donna Hanlin's "Imagine 2022" plan, which includes starting a county-wide Pre-Kindergarden program and raising teacher's salaries to avoid turn-over. 

Kevin Lindsay, a coach and father of two, sees firsthand the impact Wicomico County public schools have on kids.

"Some individuals need some other outlet or resource to be successful, and I don't know if the budget reflects that," Lindsay said.

That's why he's advocating for this funding.

However, Wicomico County Executive Bob Culver explained there's simply not enough money to give into the school board's demands.

"I want to see people do well, but we got to take little steps. We just finished a $20 million radio system, we need $12 million for a new sheriff's office so everybody now is trying to get a little bit of the pie," Culver said.

Wicomico County Council President John Cannon also said the money would have to be cut from other budget requests in order to come up with additional funds. 

"So there are very, very, very limited resources we have to actually raise funds in addition to what is currently in the budget. So that would mean cuts is what we would have to do in order to transfer those funds, make a recommendation to transfer those funds," Cannon said.

Culver also stressed if all the changes the board is asking for were to be made, property taxes would sky rocket. Cannon said income taxes are already at the highest limit for Maryland and the revenue cap has been accounted for in the 2019 budget. But others, like business owner and father of two, Chris Eccleston, are still holding onto their passion for education funding.

"If we can't wave the flag ourselves and be proud of our school system, we can't expect anybody else to be," Eccleston said.

Eccleston is a Salisbury native who supports the idea of giving schools more money because he sees most of his friends looking to move out of the county or send their children to private schools.

"I can't even convince my own wife the public school system here is adequate enough for our children," he said.

And with that, he was ready to show his support Tuesday. 

"I think it's healthy to have the conversation, if nothing else, that's a win," Eccleston said.

Hanlin wrapped up the public hearing portion of the council meeting with a brief comment thanking the council for their consideration. 

"It will be a statement to the community that you truly don't want to settle for the status quo. That you understand the relationship between investing in your public schools and the long term benefits to this community," Hanlin said. 

The council has six weeks to approve its budget before sending it back to County Executive Bob Culver. 

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