Board of education members were divided Monday evening over the 2012 Educational Facilities Master Plan and what implications it could have on school construction prioritizations.

The master plan, which is submitted to the state every July 1, is used as a planning tool to address projected facility construction and improvements.

Schools on the project list include Homestead/Wakefield Elementary School, John Archer School, Youth's Benefit Elementary, William Paca-Old Post Road Elementary and Joppatowne High School, though not necessarily in that order.

What's not on the master plan is a replacement for Havre de Grace High School, Harford's oldest high school building.


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Harford County Executive David Craig has been telling school and other elected officials that for the next two years he will not authorize funding for any new school construction projects, specifically those on the priority list, until Havre de Grace High School is atop the list.

The 2012 master plan, in particular, will serve as the basis for the 2014 fiscal year capital improvement program.

Projects that are part of the plan, as presented to the board, are on hold pending the completion of the Harford County Comprehensive Facilities Master Plan.

While the plan is only a road map for school construction projects and can be revised by the school board, board members were concerned that the plan may appear like a commitment to particular schools in a particular order.

The hesitation came as no surprise as members of the organization Build It Now spoke earlier that night, asking the board to put Youth's Benefit Elementary School on the Harford County Public School's fiscal year 2014 capital improvements budget.

Three residents of the Fallston community spoke on behalf of the organization Build It Now, which advocates for the construction of a new Youth's Benefit Elementary School.

Paul MacMillan, Youth's Benefit PTA President Laura Runyeon and Beth Poggioli, president of the Greater Fallston Association, all asked the board to put the project on its 2014 capital improvements plan.

The speakers were just a few out of about 20 community members wearing green in support of Build It Now.

Student and teacher performance at the school has "been exceptional over the years," MacMillan said. "But with each passing year the condition of the school and decline of that school is analogous to our teachers and students."

He, again, asked the board to make Youth's Benefit "your number on priority."

Runyeon explained that the group has been advocating for the school's replacement for more than a year and "failing building issues continue to mount."

"This facility is not healing itself," she said.

Poggioli commented that the reason the school has had "no major upgrades or renovations" is because the school's two buildings were to be torn down and replaced as one single facility.

"We are grateful to the board for your tireless efforts," she said, but it is necessary to have a single building that is "safe, secure and technologically sufficient."

Assistant Superintendent of Operations Cornell Brown explained to the board during its business meeting that it is required by the state to submit a master plan every July and it sets the framework for future capital improvement deliberations.

The plan includes board policies and procedures, information on enrollment and a facility's condition. It also supports the capital budget the school system submits to the state in October.