My son has accepted an invitation to attend the Science and Mathematics Academy this August at Aberdeen High School. I was very displeased that Harford County is now expecting parents to drop off and pick up their exceptional children at their home high schools every day. These kids, who have worked hard and excelled academically to be accepted into a magnet program, are now deemed unworthy of basic transportation to and from school.
The majority of these students' parents work hard, not only at work, but at home encouraging and helping their children thrive in school. These same parents work and pay taxes. There are many new residents of Harford County who have migrated due to the BRAC and have no immediate family in the area. I feel that it should be the responsibility of the school to get every children to and from their home, not a "safe depot area."
A letter from the superintendent indicated that students wait for the bus at their home high schools, claiming it is "the safest practice." I disagree with this presumption of a "safe depot area." I also have a daughter who attends Bel Air High School. She is picked up and dropped off every day two blocks from our home in Abingdon and she has made it home safely every day for the past year. I personally feel it is much safer for her to walk home, lock the door behind her, and wait for me to get home from work.
My son, who is scheduled to attend the Science and Mathematics Academy this year, faces the risk of being dropped off at Bel Air High School in the afternoon with no transportation home, since we live in Abingdon (almost six miles away). He may have to sit out in the rain, sleet and snow until I can take off work to pick him up. He faces being out in the elements for up to two hours a day, unless the schools are going to keep the school unlocked so he can seek shelter every day after school until I can pick him up.
To meet the needs of transporting my son to school, I would need to take leave from my job with the Department of Defense on Aberdeen Proving Ground. I would have a deficiency of four hours per day. When you multiply that by 180 mandatory school days that equates to 720 hours of time I need to take off work each year. If a teacher (or anyone for that matter) had to take four hours of leave every school day, would that bode well for their career?
I do understand that attending this program is a choice, however, it is a county-run program and the citizens of this county entrust Harford County Public Schools with their children and our tax money to use it wisely. And I cannot in good faith say I agree with this decision to make this type of cut to the transportation program. It sends a message to the exceptional students in this county that they are not prized.
As a hardworking taxpayer of Harford County and a concerned parent, I urge every citizen of Harford County to voice their opinion to Harford County Public Schools, the Maryland Board of Education, as well as their local and state representatives. We need to insist that they reinstate a consolidated bus stop within walking distance of each magnet student's home.
Thank you for your time.