Harford school budget process goes public next week

Several work sessions to solicit input from Harford County Public Schools staff and parents of students about next year's budget begin next week.

The school system is coming off of a year in which administrators and board of education members made significant changes to save money – including charging fees for sports and extracurricular activities and alterations to bus schedules that eliminated routes and altered school times – that continue to draw the ire of parents and school staff.

In response, interim Superintendent Barbara Canavan has said she wants to get input from anyone with an interest in the school system's budget before it is developed for the fiscal year that begins July 1. The budget is expected to be presented to the Harford County Board of Education in December.

"The way in which the school system budget is built touches the lives of every citizen in Harford County and we are hopeful that the community will partner with us to develop a budget that meets the needs of all students," Teri Kranefeld, a school system spokesperson, wrote in an email.

The school system is developing a plan to engage all stakeholders in meaningful discussions regarding the budget and the needs for the system throughout each stage of the process, according to a school system press release.

"We will ensure that the entire community has an opportunity to become involved in the process and partner with us in the development of the 2014-15 operating budget," according to the release.

"The main purpose of these initial meetings is to allow the superintendent to meet with the public to review the budget development process and timeline, to provide information regarding a new budget input tool that has been developed for the community to utilize and to listen to public input regarding their priorities for the FY15 operating budget," Kranefeld wrote.

Parents and others interested in the budget can attend one of Canavan's two public sessions. The first is at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 22, at C. Milton Wright High School. The second is at 3:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 25, at Patterson Mill High School.

For those who can't make either of the meetings, Canavan's presentation will be recorded and available online at 10 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 24 on the school system's web site, http://www.hcps.org.

"We are taping the presentation that will be given at all of the open meetings to be live streamed but, more importantly, it will then be archived on our website. This way, parents who cannot attend meetings can view the presentation on-demand when it is convenient for them to learn more about the budget process and how to become involved," Kranefeld wrote.

The school board will also hold input sessions on the budget in January; dates will be announced after they are scheduled.

In addition, the budget@hcps.org email address will be open throughout the entire process to allow feedback and input at any time. 

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