Two schools are officially in the running, and two more communities joined the fray in pushing for new school funding in Harford County.
At Monday's Harford County Board of Education meeting, parents from John Archer and Joppatowne High School asked to be considered for new schools—joining Havre de Grace High School and Youth's Benefit Elementary School in the discussion.
Assistant Superintendent of Operations Cornell Brown presented the board with the final budget request for the Capital Improvement Program. It included the replacement of Youth’s Benefit Elementary and Havre de Grace High School, as well as the HVAC project at Fallston High School.
The proposed FY14 Capital Improvement Program will be voted on at the Sept. 24 meeting, which begins at 6:30 p.m. in Bel Air.
The final request includes a request for state funding in the amount of $6.6 million for Youth's Benefit Elementary and $3.7 million for Havre de Grace High School.
After the community spoke and Brown presented the budget request, though, Board members took issue with the process in which the county is considering new school funding.
"This whole prioritization process is broken and I think unless we fundamentally come up with some way to depoliticize the process in a way that is fair," Board member James Thornton said. "Quite frankly, I’m just bothered by the entire process and I’m very uncomfortable in pinning one community up against another community it’s unhealthy in my opinion in this county."
Complicating matters—two more communities voiced a need Monday.
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John Archer PTA President Kim Holcomb wants to make John Archer a "top priority."
"With our school facing the same issues as other schools, I can sympathize with Youth's Benefit Elementary and Havre de Grace High School on their aging school buildings. John Archer is the only public school in this county that strictly serves the needs of children between the ages of 3 to 21 with severe and profound disabilities," Holcomb said.
Holcomb shared just a few of the problems that the 40-year-old school faces. Small classrooms, limited hallway space for wheel chairs to utilize, the need of larger bathrooms for teachers to assist students with disabilities, and new chairlifts seemed to be some of the biggest mentioned by her and others.
Joppatowne High School parents also brought to the attention of board members that their school is in dire need of being replaced and complained of similar issues that Havre de Grace, John Archer and Youth's Benefit are experiencing.
Brenda Flenner, Joppatowne PTSA President, wants the board to consider the needs of Joppatowne High and provide its students with the same quality of education that is being provided to other Harford County Public Schools.
"At our school, we have teachers that don't even have their own classrooms. They must share rooms," Flenner said.
The school has had small additions and renovations during the last 30 years, most recent being in 2008, but supporters are asking for modernized technology and resources for its students.
Supporters of Havre de Grace High School were also in attendance for the final meeting before the Sept. 24 vote.
Mayor Wayne Dougherty was the first to comment in support of a new school for Havre de Grace and explained that its students are at a disadvantage. He asked board members why some students have opportunities that other student's do not.
"Those who want to enter the workforce or college after graduation are at a total disadvantage at Havre de Grace High School," Dougherty said.
All items on the evening's agenda, including some contracts, were passed.
Find the full agenda in our preview article here.
This included the new electronic scoreboard at Aberdeen High School and the replacement of the HVAC systems at both Magnolia Middle School and North Harford Elementary School.
Superintendent of Schools Robert Tomback congratulated Ring Factory Elementary for being named a National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan this past week.
Tomback also announced that Edgewood High School has been accepted as a new Chapter in the National Honor Society for Dance Arts.
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