Kim Hudson: Take a breath, chart a course, do what’s right

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Even if you’ve never flown on a jet airliner, perhaps you are aware of the pre-flight safety routine the flight attendants demonstrate for the passengers. They cover information about emergency exits and the location of flotation devices. They show you how to properly wear your seat belt and they talk about the use of oxygen masks.

It’s the oxygen mask that resonates with me.

In the event of an emergency the masks drop from a compartment overhead. The flight attendants explained how to use them – to fit the mask over your face and pull the yellow band until it fits snugly. And then they always advise parents traveling with children to use the mask first before helping their child.

Use the mask first. As a parent it’s a bit unsettling to think about helping ourselves first. We typically sacrifice and put our children’s needs before our own. But logically we understand that in an emergency situation we have to be physically able to take care of someone else. We have to use the mask first.

When I look around our community I feel like I’m on a plane that has veered off course.

The projections don’t look good. There’s not enough revenue coming into Wicomico County to pay for the necessary services. There has been a focus on bringing in new jobs and new businesses to our county but we’ve neglected to take care of what’s already here.

We are divided and we continue to point fingers and take sides at the expense of everyone. And the Board of Education remains the biggest target of all.

The last time I checked Wicomico County Public School System is actually part of Wicomico County – an integral part of the county. By law, the Board of Education receives a large portion of the county’s budget. Studies show, and professionals will attest, that schools attract people to communities.

For the life of me, I cannot understand why something that brings so much value to a community is constantly under attack. Playing the blame game has never been a successful strategy in accomplishing anything.

Unfortunately it has become the practice of some people in our community to publicly finger point and “call out” others who dare to speak their opinions – if those opinions do not align with their own.

There has been an undercurrent of toxicity running through our community for many years now. And I dare say many people have chosen to not voice their opinions because of this.

But as taxpayers and members of this community we must demand that this stop. We should expect that the leaders in our community communicate with one another and work together collaboratively.

Collaboration does not mean everyone agrees all the time. It does, however, mean that decisions are made with input from the stakeholders. It means that when plans are changed regarding school construction or anything to do with county dollars, that the departments involved are notified and part of the process.

That is the way we should be doing business. It has not been happening that way and I urge our leaders to take a stand and change it.

I can’t help but ask where our plane is headed? If we don’t set our course straight right now, where will Wicomico County be in 5 years, 10 years?

Are we exploring the impact of the revenue cap over the past 15 years? Is our community attractive to businesses looking to relocate? Are we focused in the right areas?

We are Wicomico County, Salisbury, the Crossroads of Delmarva. We were the beacon of the Eastern Shore. We are the voices for the future of this community. They – the future generations – are dependent on us.

The oxygen masks have dropped. We need to take a breath, assess the situation and lead this community in the right direction.

Kim Hudson is a member of the Wicomico County school board. Contact her at tkhudson@comcast.net.

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