The following email was sent from Harford County Councilman Jim McMahan to Harford County Executive David Craig, Council President Billy Boniface and the other members of the County Council. A copy was provided to The Dagger:
To: Co. Exec Craig, Council Pres Boniface, & Fellow Council Members
From: Capt’n Jim McMahan Dist “C”
REF: Scope Study BOE
Attached are some pages taken out of the Bd of Ed Budget specifically dealing with the expansion of the John Archer School(JAS) and the redesigning of Homestead/Wakefield Elementary Schools in Bel Air.
First and foremost the BOE has not fully disclosed all the facts regarding JAS. They continually inflate the onsite enrollment figures for JAS. The current enrollment indicates that there are 141 (December 2010 enrollment) students. In actuality, only 111 students attend JAS. The additional 30 students’ attendance is reported through JAS and they ride the buses; however, they are part of the Future Link program. These students do not attend JAS. The Future Link Program for 19 and 20 year old students is housed at the Reckord Armory in Bel Air. If the BOE begins with misrepresenting the facts how can we trust any of their data? (JAS enrollment has been declining due to inclusion)
The BOE is seeking funding for planning which quietly is leading us toward the following path:
Demolish Homestead Elementary School, the most recent addition was built in 1998.
Build a NEW JAS attached to the OLD Bel Air Middle School.(BAMS) The funding will have to come from Harford County.
BOE tries to sell the JAS expansion on two criteria.
1. Harford County will not get any State funding to remodel the old JAS, so build a new one to meet “Inclusion” guidelines that will benefit only 111 students at approximately 76 million ($37,705,793 Homestead-Wakefield Elementary Modernization/expansion and $37,288,751 John Archer School at BAMS) dollars to complete (redesigning the elementary schools and addition of JAS to BAMS
2. An additional argument put forth is that JAS would be closer to Upper Chesapeake Hospital. In reality, over the years the number of times a JAS student has needed critical care that could not provided by ambulance service to the closest hospital is very limited.
In order to accommodate the construction plan, have bus access to the buildings plus access to Upper Chesapeake Hospital; the BOE is again proposing extending MacPhail Road through this protected, school property. To extend MacPhail Road and place it in such close proximity to all of these schools is a project local citizens have fought to avoid. The cut through would raise unlimited safety and security concerns for elementary and middle school students, and under the B of Ed proposal, potentially endanger JAS students as well.
The extension of MacPhail Road will also mean disruption to several recreational areas built with tax payer dollars and currently are used by Parks and Recreation and the schools’ Phys Ed programs.
Another concern with this proposal is the addition of JAS onto Bel Air Middle School. The proposal to update BAMS is planned immediately following the construction of the other schools as mentioned. This building plan is not well-founded, not only because of the cost, but also expanding schools (Wakefield) or adding additions (Bel Air Middle School) both aging schools.
1. The State is not funding school construction to the level this plan calls for and the county does not have the resources to support forward funding for this proposal.
2. In general the State has limited funds for school construction and it is foolhardy for the BOE to ask for and expect planning money of this magnitude for 111 students.
3. Any money for this project can be better spent in other areas or cut from the budget altogether..
It is time for honest dialogue with the BOE seeking full disclosure of information about the construction planning process.
The accompanying documents were also provided with McMahan’s email:
Attachment 1: Monthly Enrollment – (see page 4 – the last page and look for John Archer near the bottom of the page)
Attachment 2: FY12 CIP Approved Budget – (see page 1 – which is a chart on all capital requests, page 10 – Homestead Wakefield, and page 11 – John Archer)