The following public comments were made to the Harford County Board of Education on April 4, 2011. A copy was provided to The Dagger for publication:
My name is Sandy Boyd. I am here tonight as a parent of a student in first grade in Youth’s Benefit Elementary.
I am here because I want to inform and educate you, the Board Members, of what my community has been through in regards to the physical facility of Youth’s Benefit. Several years back, I believe it was 2007, a site survey was conducted and it was determined that Youth’s Benefit was deteriorating and a new facility was to be built.
The wheels were then set in motion and the planning and design stages were funded and completed. Actually the design is 95% complete…almost there! There was a beautiful huge architectural rendering that was proudly displayed in the front office for all to see.
Since the county council and executive would not fund 2 projects simultaneously, Red Pump Elementary was the priority and Youth’s Benefit had to wait for the next available construction funding. We were number one on the priority list.
Now that Red Pump is nearing completion, I was eager to find out when the Youth’s Benefit project would start construction. Well, that is where the disappointment begins and my faith in this Board gets crushed…and my faith in the County Council and the County Executive as well!
Here is what I have discovered. There was a “reprioritization” that took place…between who remains a mystery. Another example of good-ole boy politics in Harford County! Everyone points the finger at the other guy. I don’t care to find out who was in that meeting and what the politics are behind the enormous decision that took place in that meeting.
What I do care about is that Youth’s Benefit is not number one on the priority list of new construction, rather number three. Rumors are also around that we are going to be bumped down again behind another School. None of these schools have even started the design phase, YBES is 95% complete the design phase. I am not questioning the validity that these other schools need a new building.
Rather, I am questioning the reprioritization that took place. Youth’s Benefit was deemed in 2007 as being in such disrepair that a new facility had to be built. I can attest that the school has not found the fountain of youth and is not looking younger and in better shape than it was in 2007. It is crumbling. Teachers with asthma are in the portables or moved to grade 3-5, students with asthma are absent at alarming rates until they get to third grade. By the way, in case you didn’t know, grades 3, 4 and 5 are in another building on campus. There is one teacher that has been tested positive for mold in her blood stream and is on medication. Our students and teachers do not deserve to wait in line for a safe building while you build other schools that meet other agendas!
In your strategic plan you said that you believe that our students must attend schools that support 21st century learning, that offer equitable access to technology, and that are environmentally efficient. I can tell you that the current Youth’s Benefit is not this school.
I want to ask you, the HCPS board members, to rethink the bad decisions that have been made on your behalf. Please put a school in the que and keep it there. The priority position should be locked in. Stop letting other political motives steer what is right and just for our children. Please put Youth’s Benefit back to #1 in the priority list where it belongs.