From Ryan Burbey, President of the Harford County Education Association:
All citizens of Harford County should be outraged by the Craig administration’s history of underfunding our schools. The flat funding which County Executive Craig has imposed upon HCPS has resulted in major cuts to transportation, programing and staff. Despite his claims of being a life-long educator, despite Harford County taking in more revenue than ever before, County Executive Craig has continuously shown his misplaced priorities and lack of dedication to our schools by not even providing sufficient funds to maintain the current HCPS programing. I am disappointed that throughout his term in office, the County Executive has shown so little regard for the hardworking HCPS staff, our schools and our students.
Last February, over 500 school employees and community members stood up to fight for our schools. Nearly fifty speakers implored County Executive Craig to increase funding for our schools. He chose to ignore those voices. What was his response? “I could have lowered school funding but I kept it the same.” Clearly, he is out of touch with the needs of our students, teachers and HCPS as a whole. We must continue to fight for our schools. Another flat budget for HCPS in FY 2015 will result in even more dramatic cuts. Last year, HCPS was forced to cut over 100 positions. Cuts to teaching positions result in increased class sizes and reduced opportunities for students.
Mr. Craig has also implied that HCPS should cut hundreds more positions stating, “HCPS has increased its staff by over 650 positions even though school enrollment has declined by over 2,300 students.” Even though the staffing increases, which Mr. Craig has quoted, have been proven false by multiple sources, every Harford County citizen must take heed of his statements. He clearly believes that HCPS currently has too many teachers and too many employees. He has also stated, “The first year I taught I had 42 students in my class. For most of my career of 15 years I had over 30 per class. The number of students in a classroom does not have a negative effect on a good teacher.” Do you want over 30 students in your child’s classroom? Do you think the number of students in a class has no effect on teaching or learning?
If HCPS continues to be so poorly funded, it will likely result in drastic cuts to programing, staffing, transportation and after-school activities. These cuts will result in larger class sizes and fewer opportunities for students. All Harford County citizens must advocate for proper education funding. The quality of our schools is in jeopardy. The quality education which our students currently receive is at risk. The quality of life we all have fought hard to create in Harford County is in danger. Continued cuts and flat funding will result in a continued deterioration of our schools, which will transcend into decreased home values. Without increased funding for our schools, every citizen of Harford County will suffer as our schools are unable to meet the increasing demands of providing a quality, 21st century education.
On Monday November 25th at 6 PM, County Executive Craig will hold a budget hearing at Fallston High School. We need every Harford County Citizen, who values the education provided by Harford County Public Schools, to advocate for our schools. We all must attend. We all must fight to protect public education for our children and to preserve the quality of our schools. By protecting our schools, we protect our investments in our homes, businesses and property. By preserving quality public schools, we preserve the quality of life that we all hold dear. Please join your teachers as we fight to preserve quality public education and a prosperous future for our children.