The Harford County Board of Education approved a $448 million operating budget for fiscal year 2012 in a 6-1 vote Monday night, but narrowly voted to cut a pilot program proposed by Superintendent Robert Tomback, which would have paid the fees for students taking Advanced Placement Exams.
The AP exam line item, which would have carried a $223,242 price tag, was cut in a 4-to-3 vote of the board. The amendment to cut AP exam funding was introduced by Board member Bob Frisch. Board members Frisch, Rick Grambo, Thomas Evans, and Don Osman voted for the amendment while Alysson Krchnavy, Leonard Wheeler, and President Mark Wolkow voted against it.
The operating budget, which includes pay increases for all Harford County Public Schools staff, passed in a 6-to-1 vote, with Board member Rick Grambo the lone holdout. Grambo cited high taxes and unemployment as the reasons for his vote, saying that “the timing of the budget is off.”
According to Harford County Public Schools, the FY2012 Operating Budget was approved with the following amendments:
– Remove 17 teachers salaries from the Operating Budget and placing them in the Restricted Budget as they are now grant funded in FY12 – $976,911
– Fully allocate the money for the Board members allowances for next year due to the addition of new Board members ($8,000)
– Rejected the amendment brought forth by Board Member Robert L. Frisch to increase by 3.5 FTE (seven .5 teachers at each middle school) language teachers to provide World Language Programs at each middle school with three votes in the affirmative and four votes in the negative. The Board requested that the Superintendent look into the disparity of middle school World Language programs and the impact that the impending common core standards will have on this program and bring recommendations back to the Board.
– Approved the amendment brought forth by Board Member Robert L. Frisch to strike line item 16 on page 266 in the budget in the amount of $223,242 to be used to pay for the first AP exam by students with four votes in the affirmative and three votes in the negative.
– Adopted the FY12 Unrestricted Operating Budget, as amended by the Board of Education on Monday, January 24, 2011, in the amount of $447,775,798 with six votes in the affirmative and one vote in the negative. Additionally, the amounts for the other funds are: Restricted Funds of $25,950,849; Food Service Fund of $14,909,265; and the Capital Budget of $57,757,365.
– Approved the Superintendent’s recommendation to adopt the proposed amendment to reduce the FY2011 Unrestricted Budget by $6,144,622 and increase the Restricted Budget by $7,680,778 based on the Governor’s proposed distribution of the Education Jobs Funding to be used for healthcare premium holidays for all employees and retirees.
– Approved the Superintendent’s recommendation to adopt the proposed amendment of $2,000,000 to the Red Pump Elementary School Capital Budget for FY2011.
Thank God for elected folks. I am afraid the appointed folks have rings in their noses. The Feds. and the State have demands but hold back on the money. Some of the BoE members just say , “that’s OK” , here is the money you left out. We are your grateful servants.
decoy dude says
The HCPS budget should not be or become a political football as we move to an elected BOE. You should always ask for what you need and let those with fiscal authority fund it or cut it. The BOE/HCPS job is to put together a package based on what is needed to improve education in the Harford County. It is the job of the HCPS Central Office staff to try to get the best deal for dollars requested and reflect that in the budget. The BOE member should have based his “No” vote on the argument that many of the items and provisions just aren’t needed to improve education and why. Perhaps, even an argument that the same needs could be met for less and how.
This one reason I did not favor an elected board. This kind of thing will happen more and more as people start using this office as a stepping stone.
It is the Board’s job to question the budget. Apparently 4 of them thought that 225,000 just to take an AP test regardless of whether the student could pass, was a bad idea. The only reason I can think they were doing it was to pad their statistics and not tell everyone how many kids passed or failed. I am thrilled people are finally questioning the school system. There should be a discussion how money is spent and there hasn’t been much of one for years. The current leadership of the BOE has done a lot to tarnish the image of both the Board and the school system.
I can support this action and the bad idea what I have a problem with is Grambo’s no vote by saying the timing was wrong.
Improve education is the biggest bs i’ve ever heard. How about improving their salaries at a time when we in a recession for God’s sake. What a bunch of pathetic individuals.. They make great salaries. Great pensions. Off weekends and holidays and summers and they want more? I wonder what they’ll say when the state tells them “now we have to furlough a few”. Whose the first to go. I hope harford county goofs..
decoy dude says
I am sorry for your financial problems. Remember, we all have to work together to solve both our financial issues and our competitive issues. I grew up on a farm where it was expected that you work hard without immediate expectations of financial consideration. I knew that I was investing in my family and that would produce a solid return in the future. The same is true with educating future generations. Remember, it is an investment, and if you make low quality investments, you can’t expect a great return. You really do get what you pay for when you make investments.
so what will $$ millions buy our kids? Better teachers or better teaching because of their higher salaries? Where will this money go?? Its so nice to say your giving kids a better future but does MIllions of $$ mean they’ll get a better education? If you want to talk about high cost of education, you should check out our colleges that charge outrageous fees for college and books and most of the time the kids can’t resell them because they can only be used one year. Isn’t this teaching our kids theivery? Isn’t the cost of college expensive enough without sticking it to our kids in the book dept?
decoy dude says
Again, I am sorry for your financial difficulties, but maybe you should take the other person’s advice and try to become a teacher or at least be proactive and do something you enjoy. You might be a bit happier. Right now you are just sounding negative. You could always go back to school to get some additional training. The medical field seems to be promising as does cyber security.
I Left says
I’ve asked this question multiple times, and yet nobody has answered it. If teaching is such an easy job, and it also has the boons of “great” pay AND benefits, why aren’t you a teacher?
Most are from generations on down. Daughters, brother, father, cousins!! They agree..
I Left says
I’m not asking about your relatives (though for the record, I don’t believe you to begin with). I’m asking about YOU. You think that teachers make obscene money to do an easy job while also getting great benefits.
Based on that skewed view of the profession, why wouldn’t YOU want to be a teacher?
It’s simply the opposite stance of the NJ Governor attack. People love to tell teachers that if they don’t like the way they are treated, they are free to change careers. I’m just taking that same logic and applying it in reverse. If you think teachers have it so easy, why don’t you become one?
Phil Dirt says
Some folks aren’t so superficial and materialistic that they would choose to spend 30 to 40 years at a job simply because they think it’s easy and pays well. There are people who choose a career based on what they are interested in doing, not what they can take from it – like police officers, firefighters, members of the armed forces.
I agree but the time the story continues on people edit to suit their own rants.. I don’t see anywhere they said teaching is easy. Its not and many hours spent working after school grading. But I don’t think anyone should be getting raises if it costs taxpayers $$ including their pensions. Many get pensions at age 55 but the rest of us are forced to work to 65/67 whatever it is now. People in our country are deeply burdened without jobs and dealing with higher costs on everything from utilities, food, gas prices, speed camera’s. Extra fines, fees and higher permits and so on.
Its amazing how when someone comments on a story it gets twisted all around so they have something to complain about..
decoy dude says
Thank you. Now that is a great observation. It is good to be civil and not make inflamatory statements. We need to start working together and investing in the future of America again. How many cars, plasma tv’s and other toys do individuals really need. Our work ethic is poor and our expectations immediate. Again, we need to educate and equip the youth of today in order to make a sustainable future for all of us. Having households full of unskilled 30 year olds playing video games and living in their parents’ basement is not going to get it done. Our system of educating for the future is broke, and we do need to replace it with one that works. Yes, like any important investment, it will require time, money and hard work.
A Citizen says
SPPED CAMERAS? Ummm….I think you have TOTAL control over those costs. STOP SPEEDING…duh? Your attitude is the one that is making education not effective. You take no responsibility and blame your problems on other people. It’s not YOUR fault you were speeding. The reason you are struggling is because the teachers of Harford County are taking up all the money and using it to go on world tour vacations, and buy mansions in Todd Lakes, and hire private drivers to take them to work each day. You’ve got to be kidding me. My bet is you wouldn’t last 15 minutes in a classroom.
They did not go far enough! They should also cut the funding for the PSAT tests! They don’t do anything but pull the kids out of class for several periods.
Right now, 10th graders are required to take the PSAT (or have been in the recent past). As more and more colleges stop requiring the SAT for entrance, the pressure to have high score, or really scores at all will decrease. Yet, the leaders of HCPS are suddenly uber-interested in how many kids are testing, what are their scores, why are the number of test takers so much lower in 11th grade than 10th.
And that pressure is now being put on High Schools…….what about the 4 high schools that are in school improvement? I’m pretty sure they are trying to get students to just graduate. Not that SAT isn’t important…..but I’d rather see 90% of seniors graduate than 90% of students take the SAT and only 70% graduate because the efforts of the staffs were put into the SAT/AP basket.
Not from Here says
Offering the PSAT has almost become a tradition, but perhaps it is time for that to come to an end. It would make more sense to offer it to some students, but not all and perhaps that make that a choice for the parents and the students.
For the few students who do score well, and for the past few years, it has been fewer than ten county-wide who qualify as National Merit Semi-finalists/Finalists, it is one of the most prestigious high school honors available. Bill Gates was a National Merit Scholar (the scholar designation means that he did get specific scholarship money for it). Colleges and universities nationwide offer full scholarships to National Merit Finalists and it is an honor that is widely recognized and can be listed on a resume for years to come.
As a mom of a National Merit Scholar, I think the PSAT is a good test to offer, but I do not think it needs to be given to every student. For students who plan to go the four-year college route, it does offer a glimpse into what their SAT might look like. The problem is deciding who should take it.
Not from Here says
Oh, I am not Bill Gates’ mom.
Lost in all this discussion is the fact that it was brought out in the open that two middle schools have a foreign language program that is not offered at the other middle schools. How is this fair? This is not like when students choose to attend certain high schools because of magnet programs. Middle school students do not have this choice and so the programs at middle school should be equal in availability and quality. Does anyone else know of other situations where students are not getting a fair shake when it comes to programs and their education?
Not from Here says
The middle school foreign language courses were eliminated befoee the 2005/2006 school year because Jackie Haas and the powers that be viewed offering the top half of the eighth grade class a foreign language as elitist (I know, stop snickering–like anything in HCPS is elite). The two schools (are they Fallston and Abeedeeenn?) that kept their foreign languages just thumbed their noses at the admin and did what they wanted, but the others complied.
I remember attending a meeting at Bel Air Middle when my older child was going in to the eighth grade and the principal talked about eliminating the one foreign language offered there: Spanish. They created a course that is offered for one quarter of the year that introduces the kids to a smattering of languages so they can choose what they want to take in high school.
My take on the whole thing is that it makes no difference at all for high school performance in foreign language whether the kids take the middle school language course or not. My daughter transferred out of HCPS after ninth grade and attended school with kids who had taken foreign languages since elementary school and she was still the top language student in the class and scored well (best in her school and regionally recognized) on her national foreign language test. She does have a talent for languages, but you would think that kids who had six or seven more years of language study would still do better.
I would encourage the board of ed to do something to improve the language courses in high school. Students can do extremely well with four years of language study IF they are motivated and have very good teachers. Just take a look at the AP scores if you want to get a measure of foreign language skills in HCPS. Additionally, my child only took four years of foreign language, but the fourth year she was allowed to take the AP test (her course was not an AP course because the school was an IB school–long story).
I do commend Mr. Frisch for his amendment to not pay for AP testing. Bravo!
For all that is said about how wonderful Ms. Haas was for the school system your explanation of her being behind the dismantling of foreign language courses in middle school is a perfect example of an ineffective school board. The responsibility of the school board is to ACTIVELY supervise the superintendent, not to simply sit back and rubber stamp their decisions. From the early reporting it looks as if our newly elected board members have a different approach. Hopefully these are the first steps in holding the administration accountable and improving our school system.
I was expecting Mr. Grambo to be more aggressive at the budget hearing. He made safe votes on the AP amendment and against approving the budget but proposed no cuts on his own.
My daughter took seven AP classes in high school. At 86.00 a piece that was quite a lot of money to shell out. I guess we should not reward hard working students in this county.
Of course you reward hard working students. Still no one has mentioned where this budget will go. We are at a time when we can’t cause any more hardships on taxpayers. Most can’t handle it. Higher property taxes in harford isn’t acceptable. Their were quite a few at that meeting opposing this with good reason and all were ignored. They elected to give the good teachers more $$.. so what if they haven’t had a raise in a whole 2 years. When has it become rule of law that raises are due. What are they going to say when they start getting furlough days or their pink slip. That time is near..
This budget request goes to the CE who will work in what he wants into the county budget voted on by the county council. That said if you want to keep falling behind and paying hard working fiurth year teachers the same as a rookie who could go to Baltimore or Cecil and make nearly 4,000 more then see what happens to the level of instruction in this county. As it is we can not get enough certified Special Ed, Math and Science teachers.
Not from Here says
My daughter took eight and was credited with 24 credits at her out-of-state public university. She opted not to take credits for her physics because it was algebra based rather than physics based. If she were an in-state student, the 24 credits would have cost us just over $12,000 at $500+ per credit; it would have been a great deal more than that at out-of state rates. AP tests are a bargain, folks.
Not from Here says
Oops, typo…Algebra based not calculus based.
SHEAM – Your reward was only paying $86 for a three credit course. At $600 for 7 college equivalent classes you got off easy. At HCC these credits would have cost you $1,800 at Towson $4,700 and that does not count books, fees, and the cost of transportation or housing. You got off easy so stop whining. You invested in your daughter’s education which is what you are supposed to do. The rest of us are not obligated to do so.
I stand by my statement. I know how much college costs. My daughter goes to St Mary’s College of Maryland. We pay 23,880.00 a year. My 64 year-old husband is depleting his 401k to pay for it. He will never be able to retire. Oh, and by the way our property taxes have doubled since 2003.
Oh, and C I guess you would rather have your tax money go to house that student in the Detention Center or a Maryland Correctional facility.
You’re whining again. I made no reference to detention centers, etc. and you’re making that kind of statement only serves to show everyone you have a very thin skin. I’m glad your daughter is attending college and hope that she is successful.
Phil Dirt says
So you have statistics to show that if the county doesn’t pay for a child’s AP test, they usually end up in the Detention Center? Please, tell us more!
BTW your property taxes went up because the value of your house went up. If you are using your 401K to pay for school then I would venture to guess you did not plan and save for college.
your such a dork cd/jt..
Thanks, Mr. Frisch for standing up the superintendent on paying for AP tests. This is yet another attempt by HCPS to do something that will make them look good, but not actually improve the quality of education. How about improving the quality of AP instruction so more students pass AP tests. HCPS pass rates on AP tests are abysmal.
With all levels of government saying we need to do more with less, HCPS is coming up with programs that cost more and do nothing. This program didn’t make it into this year’s budget because it’s new. Makes you wonder what else is out there that could be cut.
Second that JUSTAMOM, good on ya Bob! Just like families in Harford County the BOE has to sit down and scrutinize things that are necessities vs those which are not, while still providing an upstanding education. Its not easy or pretty but we aren’t in easy or pretty times right now.
My thoughts exactly when you said, “the necessities of education.” Federal law mandates so many things that have absolutely NOTHING to do with reading, writing and math. It has become the public school’s job to provide counseling, medical support and meals as well. All good things. But what about the huge amount of money spent on special education?
There is one disabled child in a wheelchair that I’ve been following for years who has her own bus pull up. At one point, she had THREE employees indiviually attending to her each day as they wheeled her around the school. She couldn’t eat food, drooled and disrupted classes with her loud sounds. Dear God, I feel so sorry for her, but being mainstreamed in a public school seemed like an inappropriate use of tens of thousands of dollars over the years for ONE CHILD that still can’t function.
This is only one example of many when it comes to special education that the school system is forced to spend mega tax payer dollars on by federal mandates. You might call me callused, but why can’t children with so many needs be put together in one place and the specialty personnel be shared with multiple students instead of one because a parent insists the child be mainstreamed? If the parent was paying the bills the decision would be different.
My children were in a gifted and talented program where only one G & T teacher was shared between two schools!!! They got little to no enrichment and there was no money to encourage the future doctors, lawyers and scientists because so much was spent otherwise. Do we wonder why countries like Japan have gone way ahead our country in education? Their priorities are quite different. A little common sense, using compassion, would go a long way and free up lots of money for HCPS to use more wisely.
When Patterson Mill first opened, my daughter had 36 kids in her class. When I asked the Principal if he could do something about it, he told me that since this was the high performing group it would be OK. Because, if they made 2 classes, then that would mean that the class sizes for the lower performing groups would be larger than 15 students. That’s when I decided that I needed to move my kids to a private school where smart kids are challenged, encouraged, and nurtured. Our priorities are seriously mis-aligned, when the school system spends $100,000 to send 1 student out of county for education, but can’t spend a single dime on gifted education. The sad part is that they don’t care that their brightest students are leaving.
I understand your frustration but as much as those three employees cost. Putting her in a special school would cost just as much. Although from your description It would sound like she was not in the appropriate placement.
decoy dude says
Remember, it is a proposed or requested budget. You all don’t seem to fully grasp that the HCPS BOE can’t fund anything. It has no fiscal funding authority and you probably should be thankful. We have no School Tax here. You should be directing your thoughts, misguided or not to the County Executive and County Council. Our property tax rates are actually not too bad here. You should try living in New Jersey or parts of PA. However, the county piggy back tax is a real killer. I think the BOE got it right. Again, they put forth what is needed to improve education. Their job is to advocate for what is needed to get the job done. Politics should not be a part of the equation period. The County Executive’s office reviews the budget and funds all or part of it in his budget. Then, the Council provides checks and balances with modifications resulting in an adopted fiscal budget. If the money is not there, then the money is not there. I am sorry that some of you are having financial difficulties, but being so angry and irrational will not help your situation. Take a proactive approach and start up a small business if you are having a difficult time paying the bills. Also, don’t live beyond your means. Be proactive and quit complaining.
Also Pelican Pete’s, Wawa and HCPS are all hiring. Perhaps there is a job availible for you there instead of sitting on line gripping.
frankly speaking says
As for parity, the CE needs to take into account that county employees have not had raises in 3 years and had 2% cuts for 2 out of those 3 years by way of furloughs. The retirement incentive offered to county employees saved the CE millions which were then given to the teachers to maintain last years salaries for TEACHERS, meanwhile county employees are working harder with less help and for less money…oh and they also had their health care premiums and retirement contributions increased.
I think I made the right decision to leave for private employment 2 years ago…benefits not as good, but salary and bonuses make up for the loss. By the way, I had raises the past 2 years while my former coworkers with the county got nothing…if more leave the county, then the adminsitration will learn that working for HC doesn’t mean anything if you are not paid a proper wage for your position that is competitive with private employment.
Did anyone get to read the editorial in the Aegis written by ST ??? Hilarious considering the fact that he works for the federal government — and they have gotten cost of living raises and performance bonuses until very recently– wow our federal taxes pay for his employment so maybe now we should give the teachers a break and start taking a closer look at what federal employees have been getting….why are they so special,,,my taxes pay their pay check too– hmmm–sounds like the pot calling the kettle black doesn’t it. What a joke!!!! How far is the federal govt in debt– so why have the cutbacks not been effecting them as long as everyone else???????