Grambo observed: "So basically there is no problem with the buildings now. They were made to last 40, 50 years."

Board president Leonard Wheeler took the opportunity to philosophize on the changing nature of school systems and the struggle to get politics out of schools by allowing unpopular opinions and cutting out nepotism.

Educators and boards of educations began to hire numerous lawyers and the school system began to almost "turn [itself] over to influential people," he said.

"This board is not immune to that. It's happening across this country," he said. "This I know: when people are faithful and loyal to their institution, they will make every effort to make the best decision for that institution. It's not a word I use often, but they would also show backbone to make sure no one would hold back their children from receiving a better education than they received, and that requires courage."

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Basic civil rights

The John Archer School is more than 40 years old and no longer equipped to serve the needs of severely handicapped students, many of whom have seizure disorders, need large bathrooms, cannot regulate their body temperature or have other health concerns, PTA president Kim Holcomb said.

"John Archer is the only public school in this county that serves the need of students…with severe and profound disabilities," she told the board.

Among the other issues, she added: "Our classrooms are too small and our hallways are too narrow for our children to adequately maneuver in wheelchairs throughout the buildings."

Susan Reitz, whose daughter attends John Archer, talked about that school's lack of bathrooms and the effects of the heat on the students, many of whom suffer from seizures.

"Most of the students go to school with diapers on and they are changed in the classrooms," she said, adding they "deserve the privacy that everyone else deserves.

"These children that go to John Archer deserve the basic civil rights that all these other kids get," Reitz said.

No school pride

Harford County Councilman Dion Guthrie, who represents the Joppatowne area, asked for a new Joppatowne High School, while a Joppatowne Recreation Council president noted the school has a very unsafe area where those attending sporting events must walk around the school to get to the bleachers.

Samantha DiBastiani, representing Joppatowne High Boosters, said students no longer have any school pride, the school has no stadium or community center and no way to get handicapped fans to sporting events.

The school is watching "the best of the best pack up and go to other schools," she said.

"Now kids don't even want to order class rings because they don't have school pride. They are all embarrassed to say they attend Joppatowne High School," she said. "We will advocate to give our students a school that does have a sense of community."

'A huge safety issue'

Havre de Grace Mayor Wayne Dougherty, planning director Neal Mills and police chief Teresa Walter all told the school board of the need for a new high school in their city, as did several students and other community members.

Many wore maroon Warriors shirts to show their support.

Councilmen John Correri and David Glenn were also in the audience.