"I was really involved and it really motivated me to be a better student . . . I feel like the correlation with getting students involved will motivate them to be a better person and do better at school," he said.

Frisch told his Edgewood audience that school district leaders have avoided instituting fees "until this year, but it's simply something we cannot avoid any longer."

He noted about a third of Maryland's school districts charge student fees, and the $50 sports fee was still significantly lower than those charged to take part in sports offered by Harford's Parks and Recreation department.

"The reality is, the school system by law is not obligated to provide any of that," he explained. "It is what they call extra-curricular."


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Bus stop consolidations

Harford County school buses make 45,000 trips each school day, and Frisch argued the school system is also not obligated to provide bus transportation, "but it's an expectation and it happens."

School officials plan to create "depot stops" for students who travel outside their communities for magnet programs elsewhere in the county, meaning parents must get their children to a designated bus stop.

Four elementary schools will be added to the school system's "fourth tier" schedule, meaning the school day lasts from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Frisch noted parents used to an earlier start time might have to adjust their work schedules and find different child care options.

Buses will also not pick up other students "at your front door anymore," meaning children will have to walk to a designated stop, he said.

Teri Kranefeld, manager of communications for the school system, wrote in a recent e-mail that school officials are still working out details of how the new bus schedules and fees will be implemented.

Teacher layoffs

Boksz, the Magnolia Middle technology teacher, said she was one of three middle school-level technology teachers to lose their jobs.

She was not expecting to be laid off, but found herself talking to a human resources representative on June 11, learning she would qualify for unemployment compensation as of July and would have benefits through August.

She is considering early retirement as one of her options, since she had 22 years with the school district. Boksz said she is also looking at teaching positions in neighboring counties she could "slip into very easily," or starting her own business.

"I've just been spinning my wheels, going in circles trying to figure out what to do, and I'm one of the lucky ones," she remarked. "I can't imagine what some of the younger teachers who can't retire are going to do."

Harford County school officials announced after the June 10 board final budget vote that teachers with certificates would be placed on a "recall list" for two years.

Boksz's husband is retired, and their children are grown. She also writes a blog, "Learning Byts Blog," about technology, teaching, writing and her other interests.

She wrote a post on June 11, the day she found out she would be "riff'd," lamenting the loss of technology teachers, especially those with tenure.

"You see, we are a district that has lots of BRAC potential, touted that our county would grow with the influx of high tech positions, and it is predicted that our students will have good chances of employment in that field in this district in the next 10 years," she wrote. "But if they don't have Computer teachers, how are they going to learn the skills needed for those positions?"

Boksz began teaching technology to elementary schoolchildren in Harford County in 1985, when personal computers were just becoming popular and the Internet was in its infancy.