The following letter was sent to several Harford County Board of Education Members and Interim Superintendent Patricia L. Skebeck from Prospect Mill Elementary School parent Janet Noone. A copy was provided to The Dagger for publication.
Dear Board Members,
It was with much disappointment and dismay that I heard the BOE vote last night to keep monies allocated to the Campus Hills school site rather than transfer it to the Red Pump site to allow construction to re-commence immediately.
This action was a complete reversal for Mr. Hess who is on record, verbally and in print, that he would not stand in the way of the construction of “A” new school, even if his preference was the Campus Hills site.
Ms. Rich, as we spoke after the meeting, I believe you have the most history on the Board with this overcrowding issue even though, as absurd as this is, the parents at the school have the most history with this situation, as it has taken Harford County Board of Ed (past and present) over 10 years to address the problem. And, yes, in 1999, there was a redistricting proposal approved that would have provided some relief to PMES. If the BOE then, was carrying out its mandate, that or an alternate proposal should have been adopted at that time. The BOE failed PMES students and staff at that time and it has continued to fail the same population until today. They reversed the redistricting decision 10 years ago and despite the absolute acknowledgement that PMES was seriously overcrowded and in need of immediate relief then – they pulled the redistricting plan and OFFERED NO OTHER SOLUTION TO THE PROBLEM…….
It’s been 10 years and with the vote last night – you have sentenced the children at PMES as well as the other overcrowded schools in this County to even more “time” in this senseless situation AND APPEAR TO BE OFFERING NO OTHER SOLUTION TO THE PROBLEM AGAIN….HISTORY REPEATING ITSELF.
Ms. Rich, you mentioned your frustration last night with the Council’s actions and interference in what you state is the Board’s responsibilities. You also stated that this frustration has led you and others to research to see if you could find another County Council that has interfered in this way in other Counties/jurisdictions.
I am wondering if you and other Board members have put the same outrage to researching any other BOE that has allowed the state of overcrowding to persist in their schools for as long as it has been allowed to persist in our schools. I have, and there I haven’t been able to find one – anywhere in the Country.
The BOE is failing our students. If loss of instructional time is HCPS and the BOE’s top concern – then I suggest that Board members spend some time watching what our students go through on a daily basis. I am willing to wager that our loss of instructional time far exceeds any school – anywhere – with the 10 portables at our school. This loss of instructional time has lasted for 10 years despite our wonderful Principal and an excellent staff.
If you are willing to stand on principle on the site selection and think that it is rational and defendable to effectively block the construction of a new school —
then I look forward to the hearing the proposal that you will put forth at the very next Board of Ed meeting that explains what you all are willing to vote for that is going to provide immediate relief for these children.
This is one of the Board’s primary mandates – allowing this gross overcrowding to persist one day longer without resolution is not only a gross injustice to the children – it is an abdication of the Board’s primary mandate.
Yes, I am angry. I am very angry and frustrated that this infighting is going to be allowed to snuff out the beacon of light we had for responsible relief. As outraged as you all are that your job is being dictated to you by another body – that’s how mad x10 that I and other parents who have watched and waited for responsible resolution are at this last turn of events.
You are right – it is your prerogative to chose where a new school goes — it is also your primary responsibility to balance enrollment in order to provide quality and safe instructional space for our children.
I look forward to hearing your new proposal to do this in the same timeframe PROMISED to the PMES community in 2007 when we were asked to move our children to the middle school – FALL 2010.
If that is Countywide redistricting with no new school capacity as has been suggested, then let’s get it started.
All I can say is DO SOMETHING. Inaction and finger pointing is not an option.
The children, families and staff deserve your support. We deserve better.