PERRY HALL, Md. — Marylanders overwhelmingly say they are willing to pay more in taxes to improve public education, according to a new Goucher College poll.
In a survey the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center conducted September 13-18, 74% of Marylanders said they support personally paying more in taxes to improve public education, while only 26% were opposed.
70% of respondents also said they believe the state is spending too little on public education, while just 6% said they think the state is spending too much, the poll found. About 19% said they believe the state is spending the right amount on public schools.
"I absolutely support raising taxes to support education. My concern is that we make sure the expenditures are aligned with our goal of the best for the students," said Baltimore County Public Schools parent Andra Broadwater.
Some BCPS parents would like to see more focus on transportation after a lot of issues with bus overcrowding and late arrivals at the beginning of the school year. Others would like to see more schools and teachers to decrease class size and deal with school overcrowding. Some also question trust and transparency. One parent shared with WMAR-2 News on the Facebook group, BCPS Transportation Advocacy, that she wouldn't trust that the money raised from a tax increase would go to the appropriate placed within the school system to make the needed changes.
"I think that trust has been long lost, between schools still not having a/c, overcrowding, lack of middle and high schools, transportation issues and much more.... the school system has been failing us for a long time. So many people are either moving to a county with better schools or move their kids to private schools," said Tina Di Francesca Chumley, whose kids are currently in private school but may have to go back to public school because of how expensive they are.
"We've got to trust the people that we've put in place and I think they're all elected board now right? We've got to trust that they will do the right thing but they need to share with us what they are doing so we can see it too," said Broadwater.
"If I'm gonna pay extra taxes, I want to be certain that it goes towards education. I want to see something more tangible that shows it's going to support the kids," said BCPS parent Shanee Jones.
Another parent disagreed with increasing taxes.
"I’m not willing to pay more taxes. Take the high salaries from the desk people who can’t seem to make good decisions and pay the drivers and attendants more money," said DebiLee Shreve Thate.
BCPS is short by about 50 drivers. According to a report submitted to be presented at the Board of Education meeting Tuesday evening, for the past three years, the county has barely been able to keep up with the amount of drivers who have resigned, retired or were fired. They have hired 216 and lost 215, the majority of which have resigned. In the report, the county said they are working to recruit and retain more drivers by acting on feedback, improving pay and providing more training.
The poll also found that opinion toward the direction of the state, although still more positive than negative, has fallen to its lowest point since Gov. Hogan took office in January 2015.
"While majorities of Marylanders think that the state spends too little on public education and express a willingness to personally pay more in state taxes to improve public education, a large majority—77 percent—have heard or read nothing about the Kirwan Commission," the poll results read.
The goal of the Kirwan Commission is to research and develop major funding and policy reforms to improve the quality of Maryland’s public education system.