Bulavko: Proposal to Defund Harford County Public Schools Swimming Program Meets Opposition

From Leo M. Bulavko, Secretary, Save Harford County Swimming:

The first of several Board of Education public meetings devoted to discussions regarding the Harford County Public School budget for Fiscal Year 2018 took place at the A.A. Roberty Building in Bel Air on January 4th.

As has been commonplace for nearly 6 months, much of the meeting ended up being focused on the Superintendent’s proposals to defund swimming pools and swim programs in HCPS facilities. A capacity crowd filled the meeting room last night and waited restlessly while the HCPS budget team and administrators summarized various expenditures and cuts – a nervous murmur filled the room as the defunding of swimming was mentioned by HCPS Director of Budget Eric Clark. Tensions rose again as Student Member of the Board Amanda Dorsey inquired of Mr. Clark, as well as of Chief of Administration Joseph Licata, what the cost would be to close the pools — neither Clark or Licata could provide an answer, nor how the proposed pool closure would be budgeted.

Then came the time for public comments, and a parade of parents and swimmers took to the podium to rail against Superintendent Barbara Canavan’s proposed budget cuts to the swimming pools and programs. One after another, parents and swimmers rose up against the proposed cuts — a retired teacher saying that swimming was viewed as a “sacrificial lamb,” while other sports remain unscathed; a single parent new to Harford County talking about how she sacrifices financially in order to meet the “pay to play” fee, so her daughter can swim for Edgewood High School; and many other swimmers and parents talking of what swimming, and having access to swimming pools, means to them.

In what probably was the emotional moment of the night, Josh Bulavko, co-captain of the Edgewood Rams swim team and president of Save Harford County Swimming, came forward with Japhil Bauthorne, a Rams teammate. After an passionate plea to restore swimming to the budget, Bulavko turned the podium over to Japhil. Bauthorne, who in his remarks said he was autistic and “socially awkward,” found his voice and spoke of how his teammates were more than friends — they’re family — and pled with the Board to do the right thing and save swimming. At the end of Japhil’s remarks, the spectators in the crowded meeting room burst into applause.

Perhaps the evening can be summed up in one simple comment posted on social media by the Edgewood Rams swim coach, “My amazing kids!”

Leo M. Bulavko
Secretary
Save Harford County Swimming

Comments

  1. Hedley Lamarr says

    Its always difficult when cuts are pending to make a budget meet. Those affected by those cuts are always hit hard with more than just the loss of the program but also the bonds the program has helped forge. Unfortunately, cuts have to be made. I would rather see a program cut than a personnel cut. Who knows, maybe they could actually raise pay for the teachers for once….on second thought, nah. That would be the right thing to do,

    10+
    • DA says

      There are personnel cuts associated with closing the pools. Teachers have received raises the last two years. Two steps and 2% cola, last year and the same for the next two. There are other places to cut in the budget beside pools.

      4+
    • K says

      The idea, the suggestion, the concept, to actually close a public school swim program is remarkably stupid and completely unwarranted. Swimming is one of the healthiest modes of physical fitness. I don’t read about concussions, broken bones, etcetera. Injuries certainly can occur, with much less frequency. I never thought this idiotic concept of discontinuing HCPS’ swim program was real; that it would gain any traction. Now I’m a believer. Time to get involved. The actions and activities of our public servants, as in elected employees and administrative staff, up the ladder to superintendent and school board members, must be overseen by those who are affected. Parents had better wake up and perform their civic duty of paying attention to what is happening in their communities.

      10+
  2. Your fired says

    If parents want to keep the program they should pay to fund it. This program isn’t cost effective and should be cut.

    9+
    • lmb says

      This program isn’t cost effective as compared to what exactly? The 10 turf fields – one at each high school in the county – that cost 3/4 million each, and thousands annually to maintain? How about those instructional facilitators making six figures apiece that haven’t seen a student in years and are hunkered down in Bel Air, when there’s administrators at each school that should be doing those jobs?

      Not cost effective? Nearly 3000 middle school students getting life-saving swim training, in a county next to the bay, driving distance from OC? You do realize that the pools are utilized by more than the 315 high school swimmers that many administrators at HCPS keep beating the drum on, don’t you? Or have you not come to a Board meeting to know what’s happening? Go get smart on this, please. (I was nice and didn’t even correct “your” in your screen name.)

      23+
    • DA says

      How do you measure cost effectiveness in a school system? This is not factory work or sales. What is cost effective about any sports, music, arts, or other activities the school system supports?

      2+
    • lmb says

      Then I’ll make plans to see you for the fundraiser at Looney’s or The Tower when the first kid drowns after not being able to get Red Cross lessons. That’s right – no highs school swimming, no Red Cross lessons, no water aerobics for your grandmother…and on and on.

      Maybe you can answer the question about filling the pools in that HCPS could not — how much will THAT cost?

      6+
      • Fill in the pools says

        You aren’t going to see me anywhere at any fundraisers.

        You are implying kids will drown because they won’t be learning how to swim in public school? Swim lessons aren’t mandatory class instruction to graduate.

        They don’t even have to fill in the Pools.

        It’ll take a few hours to pump water out of them. That’s it.

        5+
          • Fill in the pools says

            Exactly. More the reason to FILL IN DA POOLS.

            Want to swim? Pay for a swim club, or build a swimming pool at your residential property.

            6+
      • Harford Resident says

        My parents paid for my swim lessons when we were growing up. They didn’t expect taxpayer dollars to fund the lessons.

        8+
      • Ralph says

        If the pools are used for all of the things that “lmb” asserts then I would suggest that the cost of the pool operations and maintenance be transferred to the Parks & Rec Department since the pools are used for more things than just teaching students in the school system.

        As I understand it, that’s what they did with all of those costly football fields and tracks constructed at the schools.

        6+
        • says

          The football fields, tracks, tennis courts and outdoor basketball courts on school property are controlled and maintained by the school system, not parks and rec.

          3+
          • settle this once and for all says

            Not correct in all cases. How would I know you may ask? I have direct knowledge.

            2+
          • Cdev says

            It is a mixed bag. For example at MAgnolia MS the trash is emptied by parks and rec but the field is mowed and maintained by the custodians upgrades to backstops etc are done by parks and rec

            0
  3. Joppamom says

    I think it would have courteous of Mrs Reynolds to announce early that she was going to stall as long as possible before deciding to limit the time on speakers. Is there any real reason that speakers cards are not collected up to when they finally get around to letting the citizens speak?

    14+
    • K says

      I just watched the video. Staff mentioned several times about being sensitve to time but Ms Reynolds and Ms. Canavan kept asking for more reports but when it came time for comments Ms. Reynolds told speakers to keep it short. I wouldn’t have believed it if I didn’t see it. Not the kind of leadership I would hope to have in charge of our kid’s schools. The obvious take-away here is that they only want your input if you agree with them.

      7+
      • Sam Adams says

        Nancy Reynolds does not follow rules. She broke the law all the time by smoking on Bel Air Middle School property when she was the principal there,

        6+
    • SoulCrusher says

      This is because they had already made up their minds what they were going to do. Whenever in any situation of bureaucracy or law, they spend an inordinate amount of time to fill the hearing, then ask for input but remind those who are providing the input of time restraints, it’s due to the fact that they just don’t care about your opinions and have already made a decision behind closed doors. They just wanted the meeting to end as they had already told you what they were going to do.

      3+
        • SoulCrusher says

          I think that if you read the comment I responded to, you would know who “they” is. I’m definitely NOT referring to those of the public that had something to share.

          1+
  4. GML says

    Look at the very nice pools that they have in Southern Maryland. Look at the pools in the PA school districts. Look at the pools in the Northern Virginia school districts. They are fantastic. What is HA Co doing wrong that they cannot fund these important programs. Swimming teaches discipline, it builds self esteem, it promotes teamwork, it builds character. As an employer, I look for young people who have participated in a competitive swim program because I know they will be more committed, more disciplined and a better employee because of their participation in competitive swimming. We need these programs. The school system needs to look elsewhere for funds. Look at the multiple levels of management. Look at the piles of paperwork and the time it takes to process it. Look at everything an challenge it, but the program that teaches youth discipline and self esteem alone!

    9+
    • Laughing loudly says

      Name your business so we can see the success of how great these highly disciplined young people who learned that from swimming are so greatly representative?

      6+
        • Laughs last says

          We’ve already got your teachers and it’s obvious you guys can’t run a school system. Go drive your tractors home and leave the complicated stuff to us. You can’t even get a company that does business on APG to locate there. You hicks make it too easy. Thanks, Harford!

          4+
  5. Kim Holsapple (EHS - IB Parent/Swim Parent) says

    If you would listen to the comments from the meeting (found on the HCPS website), a mom had a face to face meeting with Mr. Glassman and he said he is all for the pools. He is ready to fund them but it is up to Board of Education to have it in their budget. (please no Glassman bashing)

    I am all for the teachers getting their necessary raises or we will continue to lose all the good teachers that are left. It is so sad to hear in August/September how many brand new teachers my kids have. Brand new as in they just graduated. Board of Ed must love it when they hire “new teachers” because they don’t have to pay as much as experienced teachers. In no way am I being disrespectful to the “new hires” because everyone as to start somewhere, I just want to make that perfectly clear, so no one starts bashing me.

    Cuts need to be made at the Board of Education office! I am sure they are very top heavy with personnel. You could see that at the recent board of education meeting when they were parading all the necessary upper management staff pleading for their critical issues.

    In most of corporate America when upper level/administration staff cuts are made, other people are given their responsibilities and can handle it plus their responsibilities. This is the time for the personnel at the Hickory Avenue Castle to endure the same situation.

    Also, I have seen parents saying that you can go to a community pool to learn how to swim. Well, I can tell you that the Joppatowne/Edgewood community no longer has access to a “community pool”, like other parts of the county do. Unfortunately, the “big” clubs have no interest in the area. So, if we lose the Magnolia MS pool two communities are out of luck.

    9+
    • Kim Holsapple (EHS - IB Parent/Swim Parent) says

      Hit entered too soon.

      First swimming, then what? Why does a select few get to decide what program gets to be eliminated?

      6+
  6. Board, Do Your Duty says

    The arrogance of this board is unbelievable. They have no solutions. Just lip service. They were even condescending enough to encourage during the meeting that the parents work with the administration on the way ahead. Board, what do you think has been happening??You can’t even speak at the meeting unless you sign up beforehand. Obviously this is done to limit the number of speakers. Also, two of members missed the meeting again. Not excusable.

    10+
    • says

      @Duty, I’ll play devil’s advocate here just to keep things in perspective. I have seen a lot of school board meetings. There is no limit on the number of speakers who can talk and I have seen as many as 50 people speak which took hours to get through. Signing up is not uncommon and happens at virtually all official government meetings. There are legitimate reasons for this. This same process is used at County Council meetings. If you want to talk about limiting speakers go to a Balt.Co. school board meeting. There anyone wanting to speak puts their name in a box and twelve names are randomly selected. If yours isn’t picked tough luck you can’t talk. Also here all the speakers get to talk at the beginning of the meeting so they can leave if they want as soon as they are done. In Balt. Co. speakers have to wait until the business part of their meeting is done before you can speak. The school board is not a full time position and some of them have legitimate business that they must attend to and people do get sick. Last Wed. was not one of the regularly scheduled Monday meetings. There are some school board members who have been very vocal and supportive of the pools and swimming program and met with the pool group to offer support and have even attended swim meets. If not for them the pools would already be closed this year and we wouldn’t even be having this discussion. You are painting with a very broad brush which some don’t deserve.

      4+
      • Board, Do Your Duty says

        The problem is the requirement to sign up before the board meeting begins if you wish to speak. If you arrive after the meeting has already begun, you can’t speak. Board members are not the only ones with busy jobs or commitments. Parents and other members of the community have busy schedules too and can’t always arrive before 5:30pm or 6:00pm or whatever. No board member has1 said this is wrong. I’m sure Baltimore County is more restrictive, but that’s also wrong. There are school boards and councils out there that have more latitude with public comments than Harford County.

        Some school board members have paid a lot of lip service sonce last year, but all they did last year was take the money out of fund balance which is a quick fix and short sighted. I appreciate that they have started to show up at swim meets and other events, but that was after public pressure. We will need to see what really happens. None of them have said they would make a proposal to save the pools, or take any steps to change what was proposed, or get rid of fees. By the way a number of board members have missed a lot of important meetings, including Monday meetings. It’s not just the last meeting.

        3+
        • wow says

          There is nothing wrong with having a reasonable cutoff time. This is the practice in most places including our own County Council. The fund balance gets spent every year so there is nothing wrong with determining what some of that money will be spent on ahead of time. Mr. Hau missed the last meeting and Mr. Fitzpatrick arrived shortly after the meeting started. No school board member has been absent approaching an amount that would trigger the removal process stipulated in State law. I think it is pretty obvious where most of the school board members stand on the pool and fees issues so I wouldn’t expect any of them to make any public pronouncements. Changes to the superintendents recommended budget always happen on last meeting in Jan when the budget is finalized and sent to the County executive.

          2+
  7. Sam Adams says

    Joe Licata arrested for perverted sex act. August 1997. Why is a pervert still working for harford schools.

    12+
    • WTF says

      You have GOT to be kidding me. How does this happen!?!? Who the hell is in charge of security? They check the background of parents but not this jacka55? Would someone please post more details on this!? Unfingbelievable.

      4+
      • Sam Adams says

        NEWS

        Assistant superintendent of Harford schools put on paid leave after Baltimore sex charge

        By Lisa Respers and Lisa Respers,SUN STAFF | October 21, 1997

        A top Harford County school official was placed on paid leave yesterday after an August arrest by Baltimore police on a sex charge.Joseph P. Licata, 43, assistant superintendent of operations for the Harford County school system, was arrested Aug. 22 in the city’s Eastern District and charged with committing a perverted practice, according to court records. A trial is scheduled Nov. 10.Under state law, perverted practice includes a variety of sex acts aside from conventional male-female intercourse.

        2+
        • BC says; shhhhhhh(it) says

          Oh, um (standard HCPS deflection) “You are not to discuss this. It is a personnel matter.”
          Go back to sleep parents. Nothing to see here. Add this one to the physical abuse of students that ended in lawsuits at Hickory and John Archer. Both of these times, parents had been treated like criminals instead of victims when they tried to complain.

          3+
  8. Sam Adams says

    Joe Licata arrested for perverted sex act. August 1997. Why is this pervert still being paid $200k to work for the school system.

    7+
      • Sam Adams says

        NEWS

        Assistant superintendent of Harford schools put on paid leave after Baltimore sex charge

        By Lisa Respers and Lisa Respers,SUN STAFF | October 21, 1997

        A top Harford County school official was placed on paid leave yesterday after an August arrest by Baltimore police on a sex charge.Joseph P. Licata, 43, assistant superintendent of operations for the Harford County school system, was arrested Aug. 22 in the city’s Eastern District and charged with committing a perverted practice, according to court records. A trial is scheduled Nov. 10.Under state law, perverted practice includes a variety of sex acts aside from conventional male-female intercourse.

        Baltimore Sun October 21, 1997

        4+
    • Sam Adams says

      HCPS has paid pervert Joe Licata over $2.5 million over the past 20 years. That is more money than it cost to maintain all of the pools in the schools over the same two decades. Go figure.

      4+
  9. says

    Get rid of the football programs. It teaches nothing to youth. It is a drain on the school budget to maintain half filled (on their best days) stands with fake turf made out of old tires that might cause cancer.

    Many of the kids turn out to be thugs or wiggers that drain precious policing resources. If a kid wants to play football find a Pop Warner program.

    8+
    • Hedley Lamarr says

      I agree and they should cut across the board. Unfortunately a football field, especially the new ones, can be used for multiple sports. A swimming pool can only be used for swimming. Unless we add a water polo program etc. If the pools were opened to the community as a whole, like the YMCA, it would stand a better chance to earn my vote. The football fields are open to other Rec activities.

      0
      • Bob from Bel Air says

        The new turf fields are held under lock & key. When it was grass we used to get a lot more use out of the area as community. Now they are too exclusive for the neighborhood to use. Along with the very expensive surface, scoreboard, lights, press box, PA equipment, and permanent concession stands came a very large fence that makes it feel like the prison field from “The Longest Yard.” However, the fences are probably for our safety because the surface is a known carcinogen. NFL teams are pulling them out and the amount of heat reflected back onto the players during August practices have had some go to the hospital via ambulance. The fireworks at BAHS used to be a tradition every year where you would catch up with families and be a community. Ever since the turf fields went in, the evening has been splintered into parking lots around the area where you are much more likely to run into someone trying to start a fight. The fields have very limited use and sit empty more days than not.

        6+
      • Cdev says

        Pools are open to the community. Parks and rec runs a variety of programs in them. At Magnolia JRC has a summer swim team, a kids swim clinic, adult swim, Aqua Zumba, life guarding classes among other things. ERC does not utilize Edgewood middle much.

        2+
  10. Inconceivable says

    Yeah…..Let’s keep on cutting the pursuit of kids dreams!!! To the rest of you saying “Cut this, Cut that !!!!”,
    obviously didn’t do any sport activities during school. It all starts there as a kid to pursue something in life.

    2+
    • The peoples hater says

      86 more heroin ODs in 2016 compared to 2015. 54 deaths compared to 28 in 2015.

      I would suspect in 10 years half the population of Harford County will be on drugs.

      We don’t need tweeked out people drowning in Pools.

      2+
  11. Hedley Lamarr says

    Cut All sport programs, It’s a joke, keep the brats in class instead of goofing off at practice or taking off a half day for games. HS coaches no nothing about coaching since most are teachers and do this to make a few xtra bucks. A good portion of the parents are hoping for a full ride to college but that is pie in the sky, my advice to these parents is play the lottery.

    5+
  12. K says

    Can someone tell me if it is true that some high schools bring in a coach for their football team that is not a teacher and gets paid more per hour than any other teacher in the building? How does the HCEA stand for this?

    0
        • Cdev says

          Yes but stipends are based in the number of weeksfo season beginning to state finals for the sport. By far Football has a longer season. Although the argument could be made not all football coaches have a team playing in the state finals. All swim coaches have a team in the state finals in our county.

          1+
  13. Nick Paos says

    If the Superintendent’s Office can’take find $495,000 out of a $455 million budget, they should take me up on my offer to find it for them in 30 minutes. In fact, I already did. Eliminate 3 of the 18 or so “staff” I saw sitting to my left at the meeting. Issue resolved for years to come.

    8+
    • Swim mom says

      Nick – I agree there sure was a lot of “budget” people there! And I loved how most of them left once their portion was done.

      RU Kidding – it looks like personnel can only handle one task. If a second task comes up they have to hire someone new. LOL

      Plus, can you imagine how much it cost just to print the budget “book”. I worked in a Fortune 500 company and put together many budgets and never had a budget that big! What a waste!

      1+
  14. CutHarCoSwimming says

    Scrap the high school swim program! Some of the programs take any swimmer who can breathe, making the workouts not challenging for the ones who want to perform well. So many solid swimmers getting overwhelmed and winded when they get back to their club team. Let’s face it: the more talented swimmers have been paying for club teams for years leading up to high school. Further, there is just as much recruitment and motivation at the club level. Why this fight over a varsity letter?

    Oh, and stop comparing this to football. You’re making fools out of yourselves. Football isn’t going anywhere if for anything because of the nostalgic aspect. I don’t personally agree, but it’s fact, because people don’t meet up at the swim meet.

    Finally, stop comparing renting out a pool to renting out a cafeteria. Apples and oranges.

    1+
  15. getridofit says

    How about we just cut any sport that has a strong club presence in Harford County. So we could cut the following: Swimming, Soccer, Lacrosse, Softball, Baseball, Basketball. That leaves a much smaller amount of teams.

    Also the bigger issue for swimming is not the sport, but the cost of the pools. I think I read North Harford Middle’s pool needs almost a million dollars worth of work, and will be closed for a year. Also you would expect the other 2 pools to be in the same position.

    2+
  16. Uncle Eddie says

    The HCPS should be looking at their wasteful spending practices before cutting programs and enacting pay to play fees. Where else can an publicly funded organization issue inflated no-bid contracts, and not even abide by those contracts?

    1+
  17. thetitantic says

    Forget swimming and all of the other sports. Morale continues to be super low. Failure to fund the agreed upon contracts, and some poor hiring and promoting of some to leadership positions has impacted the morale in a huge way.

    At this point major leadership changes are needed to save a quickly sinking ship. Promoting from within may no longer be the answer looking outside for a younger, and different thinker is probably needed.

    HCPS has quickly fallen behind the times, and the current leaders don’t look like they are capable of righting the ship.

    4+

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