From Joseph Voskuhl, Harford County Board of Education candidate, District C:
Now, for the first time, the voters of each council district will have the opportunity for their voices to be heard with the election of six members to the Board of Education. It is now up to the voters to choose someone with experience at the school based level who will fight for the needs of the students. I pledge to listen to the concerns of the parents and will fight to bring budgeted resources to the school level.
The School Board must change how the school budget is formulated. The Board can no longer create a budget and demand that the political leaders fund their request. A drastic change in philosophy is needed. I propose reaching out to the County Executive and council members and working in a cooperative atmosphere to find areas in which savings can take place in order to put more resources into the classrooms.
The Board must direct the Superintendent to conduct a detailed study of services that can be combined with the county government, along with a study of how to improve efficiency within existing departments. There must be a decision as to what central administration jobs can be scaled back in order to free up funds at the school level. The Board cannot continue to make cuts to programs that affect students, teachers and the schools.
Finally, the issue with the most potential for savings is that of enrollment and capacity, an issue which the board has failed to address. According to the December 2013 Informational Report on Enrollment and Projections, elementary schools are at 91% capacity, a good sign that buildings are being used and these schools provide a neighborhood setting for the children. The underutilization becomes a problem in the middle schools and high schools. Middle schools have an enrollment at 81% capacity. Middle school capacity is 10,579; current enrollment is at 8,552 with empty seats at 2027. The nine comprehensive high schools are at 82% capacity. Current capacity is 12,800; current enrollment is at 10,447 with empty seats at 2,353. The enrollment and capacity issues are projected to remain the same through 2020, according to the report.
It is time to take a hard look at the budget and make some difficult decisions. No more quick fixes with fees to play and cancelled bus services. Most importantly, it is also time to work with our government leaders for the sake of education.