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More money needed for teachers to use extra space in Harford schools [Letter]

Letter to The Aegis

6:36 PM EST, February 28, 2013

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Editor:

We are bound to have a blizzard in the imminent future. I don't often agree with Aegis editorials, particularly those related to education. All I could think when I found myself agreeing with the Feb. 22 Aegis editorial was that it was time to stock up on bread and toilet paper, because snow was coming like never before.

As writer stated in the Feb. 22 editorial, I agree whole-heatedly that HCPS should make use of its excess facilities space. This space could be used to address a plethora of needs within the system, including alternative education classrooms, fine arts electives, increased AP and honors classes, more foreign language options, bilingual classrooms for ELL students, increased technical and career education, adult education opportunities, parenting classes, early childhood lab schools, public pre-schools, as well as, greater access to STEM and G/T programming. I don't think there is there is a single student, parent, administrator or teacher who would object to this.

I would also be willing to bet many of these changes would fly through the Board of Education and be implemented quickly. Unfortunately, there is a giant wall obstructing innovations which would bring more use to available space within HCPS: adequate funding.

Despite being one of the wealthiest counties in the entire country, Harford County government has never committed itself to funding a first-class education for its students. As of 2011, Harford was the 42nd richest county in the country.

Local leaders, most namely, County Executive Craig, have bemoaned the lack of state funding.

In order to take advantage of the excess space available for instruction, Harford County Public Schools must hire more teachers, not cut staff positions due to funding deficits.

More programming requires more teachers. Hiring more teachers means increasing funding. About 80 percent of HCPS's budget goes to instructional staff. Last year, Harford County Public Schools was forced to cut 60 positions due to a lack of funds. This year, HCPS faces an over $20 million budget hole.

If Harford County Public Schools is ever to fully utilize its facilities, or provide equitable opportunities for a first-rate education to all students in Harford County; it will need to become a priority for Harford County leadership.

Our schools should receive the funds necessary to expand programming, creating a first-rate school system which prepares students for success in the 21st century; rather than being relegated to begging for the funds necessary to merely survive.

Ryan Burbey

President-Harford County Education Association