County Executive Craig to Gov. O’Malley: “I Respectfully Ask that Harford County’s Children be Held Harmless by Restoring the State’s Allocation to the Board of Education to this Year’s Level”

The following letter was sent from Harford County Executive David R. Craig to Governor Martin O’Malley. A copy was provided to The Dagger for publication.

Governor O’Malley,

In looking at the proposed state budget and aid to local governments for FY 2014, and as I begin to craft my budget here in Harford County, I have concerns regarding the state aid projection for our public school system. Based on the projected aid for FY 2014, the state allocation for our public school system will be over $4 million less than the state aid disbursal the previous year. Harford County’s reduction is the largest of the state’s 24 jurisdictions.

I understand that the reasons why our state aid is falling next year are due to the fact that enrollment has fallen by 341 students, and because although our county’s “wealth” as determined by the state has declined, it has declined less than most other counties. As for the other factors used to calculate state aid to schools (Geographic Cost of Education Index, Guaranteed Tax Base funding, and Supplemental Grants), Harford County receives none of this funding.

It is not my intention to suggest that the wealth formula is flawed or that the factors that determine the state’s allocation of education aid are imperfect. Rather, I am respectfully and sincerely asking that Harford County be held harmless and not be given less than we were the year before.

In the past when Harford County has had falling enrollment, I have always exceeded the Maintenance of Effort level in allocating the county’s portion of public schools funding, and I have never given less to the Board of Education than I gave the previous year. As a former teacher and school administrator, I believe that doing so sends the wrong message to our educators, our students, our parents, and our citizens.

I know that we both share the view that K-12 education is the foundation of a thriving and prosperous society. Our schools in Maryland are some of the best in the nation because even in tough times we chose to invest in our schools with the understanding that a quality education is the foundation for success later in life.

I respectfully ask that Harford County’s children be held harmless by restoring the state’s allocation to the Board of Education to this year’s level. I would appreciate the chance to meet with you on this matter, and I look forward to the opportunity.

David R. Craig

Cc: Chairman Ed Kasemeyer, Budget & Taxation Committee
Chairman Norman Conway, Appropriations Committee
T. Eloise Foster, Secretary of Budget & Management
Members of the Harford County Delegation to the General Assembly
Members of the Harford County Council
Members of the Harford County Board of Education
Superintendent of Schools Robert M. Tomback
Sean Johnson, Maryland State Education Association


  1. Hazzard Native says

    I think the letter is succinct, to the point, no fluff, and well intended. Good job, Mr. Craig.

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  2. says

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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    • CDEV says

      Would you feel OK if parents took the money and used it for religious indoctrination schools? Our state Constitution does not agree with that philosophy.

      Well-loved. Thumb up 16 Thumb down 10
      • Phlyr says

        Neither does it prohibit this indoctrination you seem to fear.

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 8 Thumb down 14
        • CDEV says

          No it requires a free education offered to all students. If we privatized all education like was suggested, we would end up paying the whole cost of these schools and would thus spend more to educate our whole population.

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          • Arturro Nasney says

            CDEV; Where is the guarantee of a free education in the
            constitution? Is it right next to the right to privacy?

            Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 3 Thumb down 12
          • CDEV says

            SECTION 1. The General Assembly, at its First Session after the adoption of this Constitution, shall by Law establish throughout the State a thorough and efficient System of Free Public Schools; and shall provide by taxation, or otherwise, for their maintenance.
            SEC. 2. The System of Public Schools, as now constituted, shall remain in force until the end of the said First Session of the General Assembly, and shall then expire; except so far as adopted, or continued by the General Assembly.

            SEC. 3. The School Fund of the State shall be kept inviolate, and appropriated only to the purposes of Education.

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          • ALEX R says

            How about if I provide one result of whacko special interest groups impacting our public schools?

            The Anne Arundel County Pop Tart “gun”. Even that bastion of liberals The Washington Post had to say that the school officials were jerks.

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          • CDEV says

            Is the pop tart gun an example of special interests indocternating students via curriculum??????

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        • question says

          Are you the same Alex R that was banned from Bel Air middle school a few years ago?

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          • Because says

            Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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          • question says

            By any reasonable measure Ms. Reynolds has achieved great success in her career. The tenner of most of your comments on the DAGGER would lead a reasonable person to think she had cause to ban you from the school.

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        • Cdev says

          So if I want to send them to a flat earth school that teaches women should be totally obedient that is OK?

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          • ALEX R says

            I don’t agree with those 2 positions but I do believe you have that right constitutionally.

            Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 4 Thumb down 6
          • Cdev says

            But the question is should you have to pay for me to send them to that school. I disagree with it to and I feel that sending a kid to a school with an ignorant curriculum on public money is more wrong.

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        • ALEX R says

          Yes, CDEV. As long as the public schools are crap (and they are in a number of areas even in Harco) and as long as they indoctrinate my kids (which they do) then I should get to choose which schools my kids go to. And if I choose not to send them to public schools then I shouldn’t have to pay for public schools and other schools as well. You don’t pay for me to send my kids to private schools and I don’t pay for you to send yours to public schools. Fair all around.

          Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 4 Thumb down 10
          • Cdev says

            For the second time provide an example of them indoctrinating them via curriculum.

            Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 6 Thumb down 4
          • AbingdonTeacher says

            You pay for public schools not because your children attend, but because you and all of society benefit from the eventual outcome of an educated workforce.

            Yes you have the choice to send your kids wherever you’d like, but you still ultimately benefit from the public school system which creates tax paying workers that will contribute to society long after you are around.

            It’s more than just paying for your own kids. I don’t pay for them to go to private school because I’m already paying for their opportunity in the public system. If you decide as a consumer that the public service provided isn’t adequate, than the new financial burden of a private option is on you.

            Just as if I didn’t think that my publicly funded health insurance wasn’t adequate, I can’t ask the taxpayers of Harford County to pay for my supplemental insurance (ie vision, long-term care, etc)

            Well-loved. Thumb up 9 Thumb down 3
          • I Left says


            This argument has been debunked as overly simplistic many many times (in fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve explained to you why this logic doesn’t work in a prior thread–I’m not sure if you’ve forgotten or are just ignoring it).

            Parents wouldn’t get the “per student” budgeting number that gets tossed around. For the sake of argument, let’s ignore the fact that not all students are funded equally (due to the larger cost involved in teaching special needs kids). Your logic is that parents would only fund their own kids–by that logic, taxpayers who DON’T have school-aged kids (seniors, people with no children or grown children) would no longer be required to pay towards the education kitty.

            Suddenly, the balance in the funding account isn’t so high, is it? If parents got to “keep” the money that they put in and direct that towards the school of their choice, you wouldn’t be too happy with the size of the check. You MIGHT be able to afford the cost of books and a uniform at a semi-decent private school. The check wouldn’t come close to covering even half of the cost.

            Good public schools increase property values. That is the primary reason that taxing the childless to educate your children is a justifiable move. “School choice” (ie- taking the money these people have paid and letting you spend it on whatever the hell you please with no benefit to the community or their property value) is fiscally irresponsible in so many ways. If there is no benefit to childless taxpayers, do you still think you deserve their money? If so, why?

            Well-loved. Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1
  3. Eric says

    But wait!! I thought the reason we needed to raise taxes every year was for the children and the schools?? Isn’t this also why we needed table gaming and expansion of gambling?? Now we come to find out that funding for education will actually decrease?? I don’t understand!!

    Well-loved. Thumb up 22 Thumb down 3
    • ALEX R says

      Eric, Eric, Eric,
      Surely you didn’t believe all of that baloney.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 4 Thumb down 4
    • Amazed. says

      The revenue from gambling to fund education is a sleight of hand. It IS indeed being used to fund education… but NOT in addition to, but as a replacement of the existing funding. So, education spending wasn’t increased like they made it SOUND like it would be in order to get gambling passed (I’ll say “It’s for the children”, with a tear in my eye); only replaced by gambling revenues so those existing funds could be spread around to the constituents that keep the liberals in office. Simple, see? Using YOUR money to keep THEMSELVES in office… ah, the politician… what can you say?

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      • Kharn says

        And when the gambling revenue decreases due to oversaturation, you know they won’t bump it back up using the general fund…

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    • Justin A. Glimmer says

      It’s simple. Let’s see if you can comprehend this……Lower enrollment = Reduced funding.

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      • AbingdonTeacher says

        341 students spread across the classrooms of HCPS amounts to fractions of a student. The enrollment decline is nowhere near large enough to lead to a reduction in force which would lead to less funding.

        If all 341 were special education students, especially those that require expensive non-public placements, then a reduction of funding of this size would be justified.

        But chances are that’s not the case.

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2
        • hmmm says

          The greatest portion of the reduction in state funding is because of the wealth formula being used not because of reduced student enrollment figures. Where are you getting reduction of force (employees) from?

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          • AbingdonTeacher says

            Just making a point about the comment before. The statement less students = lessn funding isn’t as simple as the commenter before me claimed it to be. The reduction of enrollment by 341 doesn’t necessarily mean we need less teachers or less funding.

            I agree with you, the reduction in state funding comes from the application of the wealth formula and has nothing to do with the reduction in enrollment.

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          • Jaguar Judy says

            So what you are saying is we have just too much wealth here in Harford County? Anyone feel too wealthy after the past 4-5 years?

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          • CDEV says

            Compared to the rest of the state….yes! That is why our state aide was reduced.

            Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 5 Thumb down 3
          • ALEX R says

            CDEV, Is there nothing these guys can do that you won’t defend? I suppose not.

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          • CDEV says

            There are things I won’t defend and I think stink…..Any examples of indoctrination by special interest via the MD state Curriculum yet?

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          • ALEX R says

            Sex education at the 5th thru 10th grade levels as it is implemented for one. Radical environmentalism for another. As you well know, CDEV, and that’s why you want to limit the conversation to how curriculum is written rather than how curriculum is implemented, there is a lot of indoctrination going on when liberal teachers and administrators interpret the curriculum and implement it to suit their agenda and beliefs. Which part of the written curriculum did the Pop Tart fall under? Please tell us.

            Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 1 Thumb down 8
          • AbingdonTeacher says

            The pop tart incident fell under disciplinary procedures and had nothing to do with curriculum or “Indoctrination”. The district had a policy relating to threats made with weapons or items representing weapons. While I agree the interpretation of that rule was ridiculous, it was a rule nonetheless, but not curriculum.

            Sex Ed curriculum is not taught every year from 5th to 10th grade. It is also a curriculum which has tons of community input, and an opt-out for parents that want to use that option. So, no forced indoctrination there.

            And since when is teaching kids to be good stewards of the world they live in considered to be “Radical Environmentalism”? Learning about how the physical world functions and how humans interact with that physical world is not a politcally liberal or conserative activity. It’s just smart science and a really good idea.

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          • CDEV says

            How is Curriculum written or implemented in Harford county or Maryland that you find objectionable about particularly Family life which is only taught in grades 5, 7 & HS health!!!! Secondly provide a specific learning objective that is “radical enviornmentalism”? Finally the pop tart is not curriculum, it is discipline. I would expect when you take 4 days to find an example you would be more prepared than this!

            Well-loved. Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0
          • CDEV says

            How is Curriculum written or implemented in Harford county or Maryland that you find objectionable about particularly Family life which is only taught in grades 5, 7 & HS health!!!! Secondly provide a specific learning objective that is “radical enviornmentalism”? Finally the pop tart is not curriculum, it is discipline. I would expect when you take 4 days to find an example you would be more prepared than this! My BAD 2 days!!!!

            Well-loved. Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0
          • CDEV says

            So Alex again for the third time provide a specific example……. Since as you say there are so many!!!!!

            Well-loved. Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0
          • Private School says

            Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

            Poorly-rated. Thumb up 2 Thumb down 13
          • ALEX R says

            Take a break, CDEV. You got what you asked for. I know the school system can not say or teach or do anything that you won’t vigorously defend. That just reflects negatively on you. I sent my kids to private school and they got a better education than in public. I paid for it. I could afford to pay for it. I do have some empathy for the economically challenged among us who have no alternative to HCPS but badly want one. What you understand but won’t admit is that the Lib/Dem policies negatively impact the very people that the Lib/Dems say they are helping. You and your hypocritical cronies should hide your faces in shame.

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        • Cdev says

          Private school
          Cite a study that says most people do not believe in evolution. I will not debate it with you but you are a case and point !

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          • Thomas Paine says

            Hey, Private School, did you notice the relationship between beleiving in evolution and the level of education someone has? You must be on the low end of the education spectrum. I feel for your kids. I’d like to personally welcome them to the twenty-first century, although you probably don’t let them out of the house, except to go to school (church) and to go to church (school). In a few generations, this conversation will seem pretty silly, provided we don’t pass school voucher legislation!

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          • Private School says

            Yeah, all of us believers are stupid redneck retards. Thomas Paine, You are an arrogant elitist. You can have all of the degrees you want, but they are meaningless compared to the power of God. I feel for you. Fortunately the masses will see to it that our religious traditions will be maintained for generations.

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          • Thomas Pain says

            Supid…redneck…retards. That’s a bit redundant isn’t it?

            I forgot to mention the relationship between beleiving in evolution and age. Like I said, in just a few generations, this conversation will be over, just like the republican party. And that’s really all organized religion is. It’s a mindvirus a group of people in power use to keep their power. That’s why there is a fight for school vouchers. Clearly times are changing. Welcome to the twenty-first century.

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          • Cdev says

            Problem with that is you claimed the majority of people don’t believe. Did you read the response for no opinion? It is in the 30′s!
            BTW believing in God is not mutually exclusive of finding the Theory of Evolution Credible. Do you know what a scientific Theory is? What alternatives do you believe should be taught in Biology?

            I personally believe your ignorance on this subject illustrates why A private school receiving a state voucher should have to have its curriculum vetted. Someone did you a dis-service in science class!

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  4. Wait, what? says

    Transportation tax will raise gas prices 2 cents this summer…..

    For the children.

    Well-loved. Thumb up 11 Thumb down 4
  5. Phlyr says

    Your letter is way to kind to this governor who has continued to increase taxes on Harford County residents.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 9 Thumb down 7
    • hopefully optomistic says

      You don’t publicly stick your finger in the eye of the person you are asking to give you 4 million dollars. This loss if not reversed will cost the school system something in the service they deliver to students. Lets be smart here!

      Well-loved. Thumb up 12 Thumb down 2
      • ALEX R says

        No, let’s not fund the raises. HCEA and MSEA are big supporters of the Governor so let it be them that he screws over.

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 8 Thumb down 10
        • TR says

          How much do you want to bet that the teachers union blasts Craig when he does as he has in the past and gives HCPS the same amount he did last year, while meanwhile not a peep is spoken by the union about O’Malley when he gives LESS than he did last year to Harford County. (It’s an easy bet because that’s what happened last year…. and the year before that…)

          Well-loved. Thumb up 12 Thumb down 3
  6. CDEV says

    You do realize the state and federal government pny more money into our school system than the county does?????

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 11 Thumb down 7
    • TR says

      Actually the county ponies up 51% percent (and rising) of the money for the school system, while the state ponies up 43% (and falling) and the feds 4%. But regardless, what’s your point?

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 6 Thumb down 9
      • Cdev says

        Where is your source and my point is that the county should provide the majority of its own funding!

        Well-loved. Thumb up 10 Thumb down 5
        • Brianc says

          you’re are absolutely right CDEV but you know what would happen then? The localities would start to break funding down to even more local regions, then you’d have higher property tax paying areas getting more of the money for their schools and such. Then again, maybe that’s how it should be. You gotta pay to play I guess. In principle , I agree with you, why do western maryland folks have to pay into a kitting that funds mass transit for city folk? why do folks that have septic tanks have to pay into a fund for improvement of sewage plants? It’s all politics.

          Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 8 Thumb down 4
        • B says

          So what you are really upset at is the amount of money removed from the local economy by the state and federal government, which is then returned to us to fund schools after it has been filtered, wasted and abused?

          The money from the state is still our tax dollars CDEV. I am all for keeping more of it locally.

          Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 8 Thumb down 4
          • Cdev says

            Then guess what maybe we should locally fund our schools and not be begging the state for it? I am for state funding to some extent but when our local government does not pick up 50% of the bill….I have to ask what room do we have to complain about a 4 million reduction?

            Well-loved. Thumb up 10 Thumb down 3
          • B says

            Where is it written that the county gov has to pick up half other then the Burbey talking points on trying to be Frederick County?

            Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 3 Thumb down 12
          • Cdev says

            It isn’t any where but beggars can’t be choosers. I think we should be funding 60 to 70 percent of our own schools!

            Well-loved. Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2
          • Because says

            More local funding generally should result in more local control. Isn’t that worth the extra money or will you do anything to get a buck?

            The Golden Rule is “The man with the Gold makes the Rules.”

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          • B says

            More local funding is great. I am all for keeping more of the money that is sent to the feds and state locally, I am not however, willing to pay more in taxes so it can be wasted and abused.

            It doesn’t make me greedy to keep the fruits of my labor, to spend on my family, to save for my children’s college, to save for my retirement down the road, to donate as I see fit. It makes me reasonable. Great to be called greedy by a federal employee that adds nothing to the pot.

            And Because I would rather spend on CDevs salary then yours, I would prefer to keep my tax dollars locally where we have more control of the dollars spent. Imagine how much more there would be to spend here if we cut out the layers of worthless bureaucracy that filter that money before it is returned to us.

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    • Monster says

      CDEV, Where did you get your funding facts?

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 6 Thumb down 3
  7. money for nothing says

    I can see teachers not getting a raise of 1% either. My suggestion is to cut 50% of the administration personnel costs (layoffs) and give a raise to those teachers deemed to have earned a raise…about 10% of all teachers probably.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 5 Thumb down 8
    • Jaguar Judy says

      I don’t know if 10% is the right number or not. I do favor teacher pay determined by performance evaluations. I do know that there is a lot of waste in the public school system and cutting the waste could make money available for stuff like teacher pay increases. The school system absolutely will not address the waste issue until they have no other option so I believe that we must put them in a position where they have no other option. People will get hurt in the process but I hold the school system accountable for that pain because they had a choice to avoid it and refused.

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  8. Kharn says

    We all know how O’Malley is going to respond, but Craig must let the political theater play out.
    Elections have consequences and Harford did not support the Teflon Leprechaun.

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  9. ALEX R says

    Abingdon Teacher,

    An educated workforce. Now you have me laughing uncontrollably. You call the kids being graduated today an educated workforce? They can barely work at McDonald’s and probably couldn’t if the cash register didn’t show actual pictures of the money to be given to the customer in change. Going to college? Not until a significant percentage of them take courses to remedy what they WEREN’T taught in high school. Educated workforce? Well, if it makes you feel better when you take your pay to think that your students have actually been educated.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 1 Thumb down 7
    • another perspective says

      There is a difference between teaching and learning. The key is the opportunity to receive an education. The problem with the undereducated students you reference is that most did not take advantage of their opportunity, in which case they are the author of their own misfortune. As the old saying goes, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.

      Well-loved. Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0
      • ALEX R says

        Ah, yes, but the school system, by awarding them a diploma, has certified that they have received an education. That leads students to believe that they are educated when they aren’t and it casts significant doubt on the integrity of the school system. Wouldn’t it be better for the school system to say ‘we tried to educate this student but they didn’t take advantage of the opportunity”.

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 1 Thumb down 8
        • another perspective says

          We all know the reality is that all students are not equal when they leave high school. All anyone needs to do is look at the type of classes taken and the GPA to see the difference. A diploma only says that a particular student met minimum standards to graduate. It is like getting a drivers license. Passing the tests only proves that you have the minimum skills to operate a motor vehicle but we all know people that are not very good drivers. The problem is that too many students choose to do only that amount of work necessary to meet the minimum. For them a “D” grade is good enough and unfortunately that all too often is good enough for their parents as well. A “D” is not hard to achieve. This is not a phenomenon limited to Harford County. There was some discussion a few years back about awarding different types of diplomas but it was quickly shot down as some said it would prove discriminatory.

          Well-loved. Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0
  10. Cdev says

    There are methods and materials HCPS uses that I do not think are sound. UCMP math for example, or the subject specific middle school science curriculum given that everyone else in the state uses the integrated spiral approach. I think Here’s looking at you 2000 is a bit out of touch and needs some updating but that costs money!

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