From Harford County Education Association President Ryan Burbey:
Recently the surplus of capacity within HCPS has become an issue of public debate. This space could be used to address a plethora of needs within the system, including alternative education classrooms, fine arts electives, increased AP and honors classes, more foreign language options, bilingual classrooms for ELL students, increased technical and career education, adult education opportunities, parenting classes, early childhood lab schools, public pre-schools, as well as, greater access to STEM and G/T programing. I don’t think there is there is a single student, parent, administrator or teacher who would object to this. I would also be willing to bet that many of these changes would fly through the Board of Education and be implemented quickly. Unfortunately, there is a giant wall obstructing innovations which would bring more use to available space within HCPS, adequate funding.
Despite being one of the wealthiest counties in the entire country, Harford County Government has never committed itself to funding a first-class education for its students. As of 2011, Harford was the 42nd richest county in the country. That’s right little ole’ Harford County has the 42nd highest income in the entire country. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/local/highest-income-counties/
Local leaders, most namely, County Executive Craig, have bemoaned the lack of state funding. However, in seven out of the last ten years the State of Maryland has contributed more to educating the children of Harford County than Harford County Government. http://www.marylandpublicschools.org/MSDE/divisions/bus_svcs/fb.htm
In order to take advantage of the excess space available for instruction, Harford County Public Schools must hire more teachers, not cut staff positions due to funding deficits. More programing requires more teachers. Hiring more teachers means increasing funding. About 80% of HCPS’s budget goes to instructional staff. Last year, Harford County Public Schools was forced to cut 60 positions due to a lack of necessary funds. This year, HCPS faces an over $20,000,000 budget hole. If Harford County Public Schools is ever to fully utilize its facilities, or provide equitable opportunities for a first-rate education to all students in Harford County; it will need to become a priority for Harford County leadership. Our schools should receive the funds necessary to expand programing, creating a first-rate school system which prepares students for success in the 21st century; rather than being relegated to begging for the funds necessary to merely survive.