He said the two entities are "on a collision course."

He also noted Maryland is rated top in the country for education, and that as a taxpayer he appreciates the council's "hard work and thriftiness."

The audience loudly applauded the comments of Smith and the other speakers, often giving them a standing ovation.

"We get good bang for the buck here," Smith said about education in Maryland, before adding that the relationship between Superintendent Robert Tomback and Craig is "less than cordial," while the relationship with educators is "almost vengeful" at this point.


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He said once in a while a person or a group of people can "change the course of humankind," and he thinks the council can do that.

"If we don't change the course, the Harford County educational system that you know is not going to be much longer," he said.

Randy Cerveny, president of Harford County Education Association, the teachers' union, said there is a lack of cooperation among the school system, the county council and the county executive.

"Tonight there's been a lot of blame cast," Cerveny said. "It's passing the buck, and that's what's happening here."

"Many are working one, if not two, additional jobs," he said. "Many of these teachers you probably won't see again because they will no longer be in our county."

"There needs to be a meeting of the minds in this county so this can be resolved," he said, getting a loud standing ovation.

Praise for teachers

Several council members used the teachers' presence as a general opportunity to thank educators, which did not seem to go over too well with the protesters.

Councilman Joe Woods urged graduating seniors to be careful and safe while preparing for graduation parties.

To teachers, he said: "Thanks for preparing them and getting them ready to move on," which drew a grudging "you're welcome" from the audience.

Councilman Jim McMahan said he is the son of a teacher.

"I wouldn't be here today if I didn't have the education provided me by Harford County Public Schools," he said, adding that his mother was thankful every time she got a raise.

To that, some in the audience yelled, "How about one now?" or said they have not gotten a raise in three years.

Councilman Dion Guthrie, meanwhile, got applause from the teachers after saying he does not think they should be expected to "cough up money" from their salaries to pay for the pension shift, in reference to the bonuses that were cut.

"Somebody needs to be living in lala land to think that $5.5 million [cost for the pension shift in 2013] won't be coming out of their bonus," Guthrie said.

He said next year, the difficulties will be doubled and the county should "start thinking a little more about the employees in the county and a little less about bricks and mortar."