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From the Desk of
County Commissioner Billy Shreve

Our Schools Ė By the Numbers

(8/2012) Everyone who knows me knows that Iím a numbers guy. So hereís a few numbers for you to contemplate. According to the U.S. Census website Frederick County has a population of 236,745, and of that number we have 40,487 students in 64 schools. Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS) employs 5,540 individuals with an annual operating budget of $516,751,528, spending an average of $12,154 for each child in our school system.

In the adopted Frederick County fiscal year 2013 budget of $471,218,324, half of this amount is dedicated to the Frederick County Board of Education, or $237,841,221.

The reason that I have given all of these numbers and figures is to give you some insight on the size and the importance of education in Frederick County. Additionally, this has become a very important topic to me because I am the Board of County Commissioners Liaison to the Board of Education.

When I became the Liaison to the Board of Education earlier this year I made a commitment to be a proactive and vocal part of our education team in Frederick County. I know some people have not been exactly happy with my active involvement, but thereís a new sheriff in town!

One of the most aggravating answers I get is when someone tells me that the reason for doing something is because that is how it has always been done. Unfortunately, this is the mindset I have had to work with all too often in government.

I personally strive each and every day to improve myself and to improve my performance in every facet and detail in my life, from my business to my personal life. We need to incorporate that attitude in government as well. I will always challenge staff and leaders to think outside of the box and to look for new and innovative solutions to our problems. We can never stop learning about issues as we go through this process. There will always be a better way. Change is constant.

I know that my style has from time to time ruffled a few feathers. But when it comes to a half a billion dollars of public money, and more importantly to more than 40,000 kids in our schools, I will never relent in seeking answers and solutions to benefit and improve our schools.

I do commend all of the hard working teachers and staff in our schools. We have built a great education system in Frederick County.

While some people scream and shout that we are not spending enough on education in Frederick County, I would encourage everyone to look at what we have now. We have a lot of successes that can be easily found on the school systems website, www.fcps.org, and despite the union rhetoric, we have never had a problem hiring teachers in Frederick County.

Frederick County has the second lowest dropout rate in the state and our graduation rate is among the highest. According to the Center for American Progress 2011 Report, our schools rank in the top tier among Marylandís public schools for Return on Investment. Frederick County schools tied for fourth statewide for educational productivity, with the lowest per-pupil spending of the top four. In my opinion, this is an excellent return on our investment.

Our teachers do an outstanding job in preparing Frederick County students for the workforce. Out of a survey of 1,000 employers, 99% reported that our students were well prepared for their employment.

The 2011 SAT results show the highest participation rate that Frederick County Public Schools has ever achieved and a major increase from prior years: 67% of our seniors took the SAT. Their average combined mean score was 1545, exceeding Marylandís combined scoreó1492óand the nationísó1500.

And one very big final statistic, Urbana High teacher Michelle Shearer was America's 2011 National Teacher of the Year. Yes, the top teacher in the entire United States of America.

I believe that Frederick County schools and our public educationís best days are still ahead of us. We have a lot to be proud of and I intend to be a vocal and active part of that future. I will continue to question how we spend each and every dollar to ensure that we are getting the best bang for our buck. I will seek more and more information and answers on how the school system is addressing maintenance issues, technology replacement and facility needs. I will constantly work to improve the level of education that we impart to the more than 40,000 students in our care.

As the great poet Dylan Thomas stated, I will not go gentle into that good night, but will continually rage against the dying of the light! I believe the education of Frederick County students is just too great and too important to set back and remain silent. I will be heard! And... ask lots of questions.

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