Richard Hauf, a 20-year teacher at Havre de Grace High, said the magnet programs offered at other high schools in the county create competition among high schools for students; however, he added, the playing field isn't level.
"How are we, the oldest high school in Harford County, to compete?" Hauf asked. "Unfortunately, we haven't been able to."
The teacher said 30 Havre de Grace Middle School eighth graders don't go onto Havre de Grace High every year because they choose a magnet program elsewhere in the county.
Hauf said these programs are taking "some of our brightest, some of our best" students away from the community.
The case for Youth's Benefit Elementary School
Sandy Boyd, who wore an "I [heart] YBES gators" shirt, has a daughter going into the third grade and another child going into the first grade at the Fallston school.
She said the computer lab where she used to volunteer was taken away to become a classroom and another lab hasn't been installed.
Boyd said she has seen students sit around with buckets on the floor to catch water from leaking ceilings and said there have been efforts to keep kids from using the bathrooms some days because of the lead in the water.
"It's disturbing with our little ones," she said, adding that it is "unjust" to be told for 16 years a new school is coming, but nothing has happened.
"We're shovel ready," she said.
Beth Poggioli, who's been advocating for a new Youth's Benefit for more than a year, said the school is "in a serious state of disrepair.
Poggioli, who is vice president of the school's PTA, said at a glance the school looks "presentable," but explained the outward appearance should be attributed to the custodial staff.
Look beneath the surface, she continued, and one will find a crumbling infrastructure, failing boilers, lack of technology, leaking roof and lack of space.
"[I] witnessed the removal of water fountains because of the lead," said Poggioli, who is also president of the Greater Fallston Association. "It's the right time now."
"The challenges of our school are overwhelming," said Stephanie Flasch, a Youth's Benefit parent. "Coordinating one elementary between multiple buildings is challenging."
Flasch said one of her sons played the lead role in the school's production of "Beauty and the Beast" last school year, but her younger son couldn't watch because kindergartners and first graders didn't attend because of the lack of space.
Hilary Jenkins-Spangler, another Youth's Benefit mother, became emotional when speaking about her son with special needs.
She commented how there are so many distractions in the classrooms, including movable furniture, that it makes it hard for the kids to focus.
"It makes it more challenging," Jenkins-Spangler said about her son learning. "Our children deserve better."