Calling upon their members to speak out a Saturday morning school budget hearing, Harford County tea party groups, local PTAs, and the teachers’ union are gearing up to make their respective voices heard. The public hearing will kick off a Harford County Board of Education budget work session, which is scheduled January 15 from 9:00 a.m. to noon at the HCPS A.A. Roberty Building in Bel Air.
Next year’s proposed school budget includes a salary increase for all 5,000 employees; $2.7 million to open the new Red Pump Elementary School in Bel Air; cost-of-doing-business increases; and several new priority items, including a pilot program to pay for students to take Advanced Placement exams. All told, the proposed FY12 unrestricted operating budget is $448.97 million, an increase of $26.4 million over the current fiscal year. The restricted budget is expected to decline by $12.2 million next year, reflecting the loss of federal stimulus funds.
“No more spending” will be the tea party message, according to Bel Air Tea Party organizer Tony Passaro. Word of a tea party turnout spread earlier in the week, prompting HCPS to post a police officer at a budget hearing Monday, but a large crowd never materialized. Instead, the push is on for Saturday, according to Passaro.
In contrast with the tea party message will be the Harford County Education Association, which supports the salary increases on behalf of county teachers.
Added to the mix will be the Harford County Council of PTAs. In an email to members, HCCPTA President Sandra Monaco-Burton urged parents to “Come share your opinion on the proposed budget–the BOE needs to hear what parents want.”