Public needs to be involved in budget planning process [Letter]

The following is a letter to The Aegis Open Forum:


I appreciate your November 1, 2017 editorial encouraging all citizens of Harford County to participate in the HCPS Superintendent’s “virtual town hall” on Monday, November 6, 2017. I echo the sentiment. Friends and neighbors will confirm that I remind them each year to share their opinions and concerns regarding the HCPS budget.

However, these educated and passionate people often disregard my plea in the fall. They are busy working, volunteering, helping with homework, watching their children perform in playoff games, concerts and plays, attending church, and carpooling HCPS students to all the enriching activities that they hope will ensure future success.

As you said each year it seems like the few who do get involved get involved when the process is too far along. What my contacts tell me is they feel they do not have any say until the actual budget number comes back from the County Executive in late May or early June. Then they have to react to cuts made they did not even know were coming like neighborhood buses for magnet schools, teacher reductions making larger classes, and 4th tier bus schedules.

Your article, “Some on School Board Pushing for Earlier Input,” detailing the BOE speaking out about setting priorities and making the process more transparent is encouraging. I do not necessarily think the BOE should limit their request; after all, the schools are underfunded across the state. I do think they and Mrs. Canavan should be more clear about what will and will not be funded if the ask is not received. They should also be out advocating with all funding sources for each dollar needed.

BOE members, please get out there and go to PTA meetings, hold coffee chats, attend playoff games, plays, and community events and actively seek our input. Do not just rely on this virtual town hall or people coming to the podium. You represent us so come find out what we have to say.

Hillary Doherty

Bel Air

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