The following comments were made on January 14th by Harford County Council Member James “Capt’n Jim” McMahan (District C, Bel Air) to the Board of Education at a public input session on the school system’s budget for next year. The public input session was held by the Board at the A. A. Roberty Building in Bel Air. The text below was provided to The Dagger for publication:
Mr. President, Superintendent and Board members, it’s different being on this side of the dias. I am here tonight to voice my support for technology for my students in my district.
We have made giant strides in recent years to support the young minds in our elementary grades with technology. My concern is that some of the older schools like Homestead Wakefield are lagging behind in having the same opportunities in learning computer skills, than in the newer schools.
In my district, I am very, very fortunate to have very strong PTAs. The PTA at Homestead Wakefield has stepped up to the tune of $50,000 to provide technology that was lacking. I admire what they have done but PTAs normally provide the extra learning tools, not the essentials.
If I may put forth one request tonight it is that the board make it a priority to see that students at Homestead Wakefield, Bel Air Elementary and all the older elementary schools receive the funding necessary to provide the basic allotment of computers so that the board’s own criteria of one computer for every 2.9 students be attained.
At Homestead Wakefield, we are now one student computer for each 6.3 students, well above, or below your own criteria.
I know that raises another question… current infrastructure to handle the additional computers we need.
Youth’s Benefit and William Paca [elementary schools] are in worse shape than Homestead Wakefield. So, we know the reality up front. Let’s not put our students off…install the necessary additional electrical capacity so we will be on a level playing field.
It will be much easier for us to cope with waiting for a new school while our children have the necessary tools they need on a daily basis.
I have a near and dear affectionate place in my heart for Homestead Wakefield. My Jimmy and Betsy received the foundation in education for their current place in life. My Betsy is an ordained minister and my son is a corporate attorney. It all started at Homestead Wakefield.
We all know that it is not the outside of any institution that counts…it is on the inside where the learning is fostered. But, the inside needs the tools…
Thank you very much for all you do, and no one know better than I how many ways you have to split the pie.