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Parents Say Crowded, Weathered Youth's Benefit Deserves New Building

Youth's Benefit Elementary School parent's and faculty members showed their support for a new school at Monday evening's Board of Education meeting.

Parents, PTA members and students representing Youth's Benefit Elementary School were all in agreement at —the school needs a new building.

The school, which is already over capacity by roughly 150 students and the largest elementary school in Harford County, faces poor sanitary conditions, boarded up water fountains due to lead contamination, over crowded classrooms, limited technology, and leaking roofs. These were just a few of the problems mentioned by supporters of a new building Monday evening.

Youth's Benefit parent Sandy Boyd, who also volunteers at the school, complained about the lack of technology currently offered since the school's computer lab was taken out and replaced with a classroom.  

"There's a lot of 21st century skills and the technology and the computer lab is essential. We've got to get a building that supports that. It has to occur," Boyd said.

Boyd, like other parents Monday evening, continued to describe the poor conditions that she has witnessed while volunteering and visiting the elementary school.

"In the past two to three years, I've been in the building with the buckets dripping all around the students. It seems common in both schools we are talking about tonight," Boyd said. "Twice in the past two years, I was in the building where it wasn't an all call over the announcements, however, it was a 'Don't use the bathroom,' 'keep the kids from using the bathroom.' Of course that is very disturbing with our little ones."

The school is currently spread out over three different buildings which causes issues for students traveling from building to building during inclement weather. Making it one entire building would be the right thing to do, explained Youth's Benefit parent Stephanie Flasch.

Paul McMillin, who spoke on behalf of Build It Now, outlined the four critical filters that a school must exhibit for a new building as follows:

1. Does the school meet all four of the school system's criteria for replacement?

2. Is the school one of the board's top priorities for replacement?

3. Does the school currently have funding support from the county executive and the county council?

4. Is the project shovel ready?

"The reality is, Youth's Benefit would pass all four of these filters. In fact it maybe the only project in the county that would pass through those four filters," McMillin said.

Hilary Jenkins-Spangler, another parent from Youth's Benefit, explained in a perfect world both schools—Havre de Grace High School and Youth's Benefit Elementary—would be built.

"Both schools are clearly worthy of a new building," Jenkins-Spangler said.

Now, it is up to the to decide which one.

The proposed will be voted on at the Board of Education meeting beginning at 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 24.

Ashley August 22, 2012 at 06:41 PM
Those building needed to be updated when my brother went there. He graduated college this year. They're overdue for an upgrade.
Tim Montoya August 22, 2012 at 06:57 PM
Education is one of the only ways the county can be assured it will be "investing" their funds and not merely spending them. Even with the sub-par conditions at YBES, the school, its teachers, students and parents still manage to get outstanding results. Each student having to bring his/her own safe drinking water to school each day, conjures up images of 3rd world countries with children walking mile to small school huts with dirt floors and not utilities.
Just Fyi August 23, 2012 at 03:49 PM
YBES is an outdated building on an inadequate property. It is a poor location and traffic is unsafe in the area because of the school. The site is too small for adequate parking. The soil does not perc well; the new septic fields will fail like the old ones. A new site needs to be found and the new building placed there. If you hate it now, wait until the multi-phase construction and demolition begin, witch will occur over the course of 2-3 school years while children are trying to learn.
Penelope Patch August 24, 2012 at 06:43 AM
I agree with you Brian. As a lifelong resident of Harford County, I am sick about what I see occurring in this county. Its all about the dirty politics. That is why we have so much building going on here and why the school at Red Pump was built instead of the one needed off of Rt. 22. It reminds me why I now want to get the heck out of here. Unless you are part of the "friends and family plan" in Harford County government, you're out of luck, stuck working your ass off paying for the jobs and lavish benefits that the rest of us would be grateful to have. The county executive as well as many on the county council are not looking out for our best interests -- they are either busy "feathering their own nests" being nice and cozy with the builders or strategizing about higher political aspirations.
Penelope Patch August 24, 2012 at 07:57 AM
I attended the previous Bel Air High when it was very dilapidated and it wasn't until 30 years later that it was finally rebuilt. I still learned in the old building and went on to do very well. Its not always about the building but the way students apply themselves (or not) in learning. I think we need to be very careful to think that we need the fanciest buildings money can buy, because that money is tax payer money and we need to be more careful in spending decisions.

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