Battle For New Havre de Grace High School Wages On

The Harford County Board of Education passed the FY2014 Captial Improvement Plan, which will start the funding process for a new Havre de Grace High School.

With the approval of the FY 2014 Capital Improvement Plan at Monday’s Harford Board of Education meeting, Havre de Grace supporters had a pleasant ride home. Their persistance and hard work toward pushing for a new high school was finally beginning to pay off.

A total of $3.7 million was requested from Harford County for funding the design of a new Havre de Grace High School.

The Harford County Council and the State of Maryland will be responsible for helping push the entire project's funding package through before the dream of many Havre de Grace residents comes to fruition.

» Read more Patch coverage of the push for a new school.

The board passed the proposed Fiscal Year 2014 Capital Improvement Plan by a 7-1 vote—only board member Robert Frisch voted against the plan, citing “principle.”

Frisch made a motion, supported by Joseph Hau, to delete Havre de Grace High School from the FY2014 Capital Improvement Plan and move it to fiscal year 2015. It failed.

Havre de Grace City Councilman David Glenn asked Board of Education members if they would be OK with their child attending a school lacking technology and plagued with security issues.

Glenn stressed that the students at Havre de Grace are not operating on a “level playing field” with other high schools in the county.

“One of the primary goals of this board is to provide a safe and secure learning environment. Given the current situation at Havre de Grace High School, we’re falling short of that goal,” Glenn said. “Bottom line, a new Havre de Grace High School is long overdue. It’s time to take the politics out of the mix and do what is best for the students at Havre de Grace. Don’t jeopardize their education and certainly don’t let them be a pawn in this process. They have way too much to lose."

He continued, “I challenge you, don’t listen to me, listen to our students who have given testimony time and time again. They are the ones who have been truly impacted."

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The board's newest member, Have de Grace representative Thomas Fitzpatrick, recently toured Havre de Grace High School, Youth’s Benefit Elementary and Patterson Mill High School.

He said he was able to see the contrast between the schools and just how modernized they are compared to Havre de Grace and Youth’s Benefit.

Fitzpatrick, who made it a point to let the audience know he was without his “It’s Our Turn” button, also spoke on fairness.

“I’m not wearing that button tonight and the reason I’m not wearing that button today is because at some point, even though I still wear my Havre de Grace hat and I’m a proud member of my community, I also have to consider the fact that I am on the Board of Education of Harford County, as we all are. Our obligation is to do the best that we can for the constituents and students that we serve and the administration that we oversee and manage,” Fitzpatrick said.

He continued, “And so when I talk about fairness, I think about what we’re asking for in this capital improvement budget and the amendments we have approved so far. As I said earlier, I believe that what we have come up with at this point basically addresses the need for a new Havre de Grace High School.”

Nastassia Smith, Vice President of Student Council at the high school, said Havre de Grace High School students are “cheated and deprived.”

Smith shared that the school’s current seniors are using the same books that her brother used. He graduated in 2006. She also complained of restricted AP classes due to lack of classroom space.

The replacement of Havre de Grace High School has become a priority, thanks to the efforts of those who have attended meetings for the past two months. But credit is also due in part to the support of Harford County Executive David Craig. He informed Harford County Council that he would not fund any other school replacement projects in fiscal years 2014 and 2015 until a new facility for Havre de Grace High was approved. 

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Rick Hauf September 26, 2012 at 06:13 PM
Thank you to all the parents, students and officials who helped achieve this first victory! We have a long way to go but we should feel good about this accomplishment. Finally, the board of ed recognized the injustice towards our students. They deserve the same opportunities and resources as students in other communities! Please join the efforts to lobby the county council and state to support this project! We all need to show our Warrior Pride!
Fred Cullum September 26, 2012 at 07:38 PM
Thank you to Councilman Craig and former Councilman Shank for starting this process.
Hollee Sifford September 27, 2012 at 01:38 AM
I am very happy to hear this..Although I cannot attend mtgs due to my work hours I had the pleasure of giving a "TOUR" to 4 board members prior to Mondays meeting..It was my pleasure to assist in any way I could to help these members see first hand the short comings the students face on a daily basis.Well this is definitely good news juat hve to keep pushing forward:)Thanks again to everyone who pushed back and thank you David Craig
Curtis Coon September 28, 2012 at 05:03 PM
The next big push will be the County Council, which requires even more work than the School Board, in my opinion. Councilpersons from districts that have received new schools should be reminded of the difference it has made to their community, and how, even after Aberdeen High was finished as a new school, a new wing was supported by David Craig, and approved to accomodate capacity needs. In essence, Aberdeen got two new construction projects for its high school. Now, it's our turn.


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