Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor:

In the last several weeks, The Pocahontas Times has informed us that our Board of Education is once more lobbying for a special tax levy to fix the physical facilities that our children sit in every day. While the reports are not definitive as to where – Green Bank Elementary/Middle with its cracked boiler and corroded sprinkler system clearly needs attention. It would appear that Marlinton Middle School is to be the recipient of HVAC and Sprinkler assistance, as well.

In addition, are they actively considering suing our State Superintendent for a five year old problem that no one thought to check or verify to assure the accuracy of the previous State Superintendent?

If our new Superintendent is the same Michael Martirano I knew in Silver Spring, Maryland, that would be a great mistake.

At the end of my career of more than 36 years fighting for decent education for handicapped children, I was more than happy to take care of the 600 neighborhood and 50 severely physically handicapped children assigned to a single building, Forest Knolls.

Michael was busy opening a new elementary school just down the street. Later, he became the director of the Down County Consortium making available new opportunities for secondary aged children. My children fed into that consortium, and Michael did a superb job of creating a seamless transition for those students reaching secondary programs. I would strongly urge working with him in the implementation of the new models being created as a way to recover the million dollar shortfall that occurred, rather than scorching the earth in pitting one state agency against the other.

Further, Pocahontas Coun-ty’s leadership could suspend the utilization of monies raised by the county through fees and miscellaneous assessments used by the Farmland Preservation Program until the safety and program needs of our children are firmly secured. A long term suspension of the program and a refocusing of the use of the hotel/motel tax to uses favorable to our Board of Education could go a long way in meeting the immediate needs of our youngest citizens. It would also demonstrate our commitment to our children first which would be most appreciated by the state’s educational community. While the use of the Farmland Preservation Program and hit or miss allocations of the hotel/motel tax may have been appropriate during “days of plenty,” they are almost obscene when continued while our children sit in unsafe/or unneeded jeopardy – not to mention our investments in those buildings.

Pocahontas does not need new taxes when our revenues are being expended on such discretionary programs that benefit a “select” few, well-connected individuals and groups. Further, we need to get to know our new superintendent rather than sue him. I envision he could well become Pocahontas’s greatest ally as long as we are not squandering our public trust to do right by our children by not even providing for their immediate safety and well-being. There is certainly a place for Farmland Preservation and discretionary gift spending – but not at the expense of jeopardizing our most important resource for the future – our children and the programs they receive at our discretion.

The physical safety and strong and rich instructional programs of/and for our children should not be made second fiddle in the listing of our county’s priorities. I am all for new taxes if we are using our current resources well.

I hope that the parents and grandparents of our community’s children will support putting our children first – right now.

David Litsey
Slaty Fork

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