Back to school Harford

Bel Air Middle School Principal Sean Abel stops in to chat with teacher Amanda DiSebastiano Thursday morning, as she readies her new classroom. (MATT BUTTON | AEGIS STAFF, Homestead Publishing / August 23, 2012)

Grab your pencils, calculators, backpacks and lunches — Harford County Public Schools start a brand new year Monday.

While teachers have already reported back to their classrooms to gear up for the 2012-13 school year, kids don't begin for a few more days. The first day for pre-kindergarten students is Wednesday.

About 38,000 students will be enrolled in Harford County Public Schools this year, according to Teri Kranefeld, communications manager. She noted that, as with every school year, the school system can only "approximate enrollment until Sept. 30."

There will be 3,101 teachers for the school year - 161 of them new, and 10 principals who are "new to their buildings this year," Kranefeld said.

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The first day off comes quickly, with schools closed Monday, Sept. 3, for Labor Day.

Bus routes for Harford County schools are available online at and in Friday's editions of The Record and The Aegis.

Unlike last school year when Red Pump Elementary in Bel Air opened, no new schools are opening this year in Harford County.

Some schools will still be using portables, including Jarrettsville Elementary, where four portable classrooms will be used while the HVAC system is worked on.

The school system is "finalizing an assessment of relocatable [classrooms], so they can present it to the board in terms of which portables can be removed," Kranefeld said.

While 73 portables are sitting on school property, not all of them are being used as classrooms. Some, Kranefeld said, are being used for storage.

One big difference, however, is teachers will be returning with a 1 percent salary raise.

In June, the Harford County Board of Education and Harford County Education Association came to an agreement to give teachers, guidance counselors and other members of the bargaining unit a 1 percent cost of living raise and a step increment raise for those who are eligible and a longevity increment for others.

HCEA members will also soon have a new leader.

HCEA President Randy Cerveny resigned from his post in July and a union members were voting Thursday night at C. Milton Wright High School to choose a new president and vice president.

Bel Air Middle School gets ready

On Thursday, teachers around the county were busy putting their classrooms together and getting prepped for next week.

Amanda DiSebastiano, a "relatively new" teacher at Bel Air Middle School, was one of those busy teachers.

In 2010, she was a student teacher at the school and worked as a long-term substitute. Not long after, she was hired as a mid-year replacement.

This year, however, is the first time she'll have her own classroom.

"It's refreshing to have my own room," DiSebastiano said.