Letter: Harford schools underfunded by county, state

I recently met with the County Council, County Executive, and Harford County Public Schools to better understand school funding in Harford County. As a concerned parent and data analyst, I conducted research to better understand school funding across Maryland. I found that HCPS is underfunded by both the county and state. Here are my findings:

Harford County’s total funding per pupil is the lowest in the state, according to the latest Overview of Maryland Local Governments.

Harford County residents pay a lot in County taxes. We pay the seventh-highest adjusted property tax rate and the ninth-highest income tax rate in the state, yet we rank 13th in the state for per pupil funding. If HCPS was funded according to our tax rates, they would have received an additional $35 million this year from the county. Other counties receive less yet do more. Eight counties receive less funding from the state than Harford County, however they all invest more per pupil than Harford County while maintaining excellent bond ratings (seven are AAA and one AA+).

Harford County’s investment in our schools is declining. The percentage of Harford County’s budget invested in HCPS has decreased 1 percent each year over the last four years.

Harford County has the largest class sizes in Maryland. The Maryland State Department of Education found the average Harford County class size to be 26.3 students, compared to 20.5 across the state. Our schools will gain as many as 5 students per classroom if HCPS loses 153 teachers next year due to an underfunded budget request.

I ask that Harford County fully fund the Board of Education budget request. To learn more, go to #Fund15 on Facebook.

Heather Sewell

Fallston

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