Voskuhl: On School Budget, “A Drastic Change in Philosophy is Needed”

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.


  1. Whatever says

    I hope people don’t fall for Mr. Voskuhl’s experience as a sign that he will be a good Board member. He is arrogant and pompous and had such a hands off approach to running Bel Air High that I doubt he would be able to answer basic questions about how money was spent in the system. The voters of district C have poor choices in this election. He however is the worst choice.

    • ralph says

      Mr. or Ms. Whatever: add some substance to your posts instead of making empty personal attacks and you might get some more respect. Otherwise, go back in your hole troll.

      • Frank says

        Hole Troll – I thought at first you were making a Sunny in Philadelphia reference. Made me happy for a moment.

  2. Cdev says

    Unfortunately it makes the most sense to close Havre de Grace high and middle but fat chance that happens!

  3. need more details says

    With his experience in the school system Mr. Voskuhl should already be able to specify which central administration positions he believes can be scaled back or eliminated. Generalities will not suffice. What amount of saving does he believe the system will realize with the restructuring or elimination of these positions? Hint, it wont be much. Why is he asking for a study? Surely Mr. Voskuhl’s long tenure has given him inside knowledge to know where greater efficiencies can be found throughout the school system. Tell us where these savings can be found now. I am not interested in what a study will find a year or two out. We already know there is excess capacity in the school system. Tell us which schools you would close. This letter is long on soundbites but short on details which wont cut it with voters. I am not writing Mr. Voskuhl off but this is not a good start to unseat what many believe is an already weak incumbent in Ms. Krchnavy. I’m waiting to hear what the third candidate has to say. Hopefully he will offer more substance.

  4. K says

    It is hard to work with government leaders when some are more interested in their own agendas and political aspirations than working with the school system.

    • Barbara says

      While it may be hard to work with other government leaders such as the executive and council, it is a necessary reality. They hold the purse strings! The stand off adversarial approach has worked against HCPS time and time again. If you want their cooperation then include them in the process.

      • K says

        “Working with” implies a degree of cooperation. That is difficult or impossible when one party is putting self interest above the common interest. People will disagree as to which party has been adversarial (or more so) in this relationship.

  5. Better Choices says

    This is more of the same. He is not the solution to the problem. Cuts have been made in the admin just as he suggests. Support Services continue to have to do more with less and it is now counter productive. We don’t need another arrogant Board member with these preconceptions moving into position.

  6. Puddin Tain says

    Less emphasis on high dollar sports like football and more emphasis on individual sports like track. Expand inter-mural sports programs.

  7. BillH says

    Poor Mr Voskuhl, will never be elected running on a platform of trying to prove less enrollment does not require a larger budget and the HCPS is wasting money. Come on Joe, get on the winning team pal, we need more schools for fewer students, we need more teachers and administrators and most importantly HCPS needs their slice of the pie to be the biggest. And all of this can only happen if we raise the taxes on 10’s of thousands of Harford country residents that have no children in school. It’s the only logical solution.

  8. Concerned Spouse says

    Thank you for stating the obvious – “It is time to take a hard look at the budget and make some difficult decisions.” Isn’t that what you should be doing each and every year anyway?

    Now what are the difficult decisions and where do you stand on those decisions? That is what we want to know. We already know we have to take hard look at the budget. Duh!

    One would have to think that payroll is the single most important budget issue facing the school system. And yet all you do is talk around it and hint at it. I assume that is what you mean by “make difficult decisions.” Does that mean layoffs? Salary cuts? What will you do to address the teacher pay issue? Give us solutions and stop stating the obvious! Solving the problem is what you are being elected to do, NOT tell us what we already know.

  9. Jim T says

    I believe Mr. Voskuhl was going beyond an efficiency study and suggesting there may be duplicity (and potential savings) with the elimination or combining of overlapping County Government and Board of Education departments “….a detailed study of how services can be combined with county government”. I think his thought has merit and should be put on a forward burner. An obvious opportunity for investigating such savings would be the combining of the school and government Construction and Facilities departments. How’s that for some specifics?