April 30, 2006

ISSUE: -- County Executive David R. Craig has presented an ambitious school construction plan to complete some of Harford's most sorely needed projects within the next four years.

Now Craig must convince a skeptical County Council that the $218 million plan can be paid for. Council members say the administration has yet to explain where the money will come from.

The discussion is likely to evolve into a broader conversation about how the county plans to prepare for a surge in growth in the next few years as thousands of jobs come to Aberdeen Proving Ground because of the military's base reorganization. All county departments are expecting a strain on services and have been identifying key infrastructure needs; federal money will cover only a portion of the costs - and none of the school plans.

What is your opinion of the administration's proposal for school construction?

School construction long overdue

All of these schools are way overdue. To our children's detriment, our school system leaders seem only able to operate in crisis mode. There is no long-term planning function. Unfortunately, by 2009 when these schools are apparently scheduled to be completed, there will be an immediate need for at least another elementary school. This need is justifiable now based on students in the system now.

Prospect Mill Elementary will be at 140 percent of capacity with 10 portables this fall with the advent of full-day kindergarten. This is based upon current enrollment figures, not projections. Most likely this number will rise as September approaches, given ongoing construction in the area. Our community has been assured the new elementary school is planned to alleviate our overcrowding (at least 250 students).

Fountain Green is also seriously overcrowded and will fill the remaining part of the planned new school. However, this does not address the current need for another elementary school in the Forest Hill area. This should be on this list as well. Harford County needs to get out of this crisis management mode and start to plan and build schools before the schools are at 100-percent-plus of capacity.

What Harford residents and County Council representatives have to be most concerned about is the management of this $218 million in school construction funds. If the money is approved, and it should be, there has to be much tighter cost and bidding controls.

Janet Noone Bel Air

We want your opinions


This past week, County Councilman Robert G. Cassilly, a member of the Army Reserve who was called up in February for active duty in Iraq, notified his council colleagues that he has decided not to give up his seat before the fall election. In an e-mail sent late Monday, the Republican said he is concerned that a replacement might swing the vote on important issues away from his liking.

Some council members criticized the decision, saying it leaves Bel Air citizens without a voice and could lead to more deadlocked votes. In Cassilly's absence, the council is operating with six members and has cast 3-3 votes on two key votes in recent weeks.


What is your opinion of Cassilly's decision? Tell us what you think. Send e-mail responses by Thursday to harford.speakout@baltsun.com. A selection of responses will be published next Sunday. Please keep your responses short and include your name, address and telephone number. Addresses and phone numbers will not be published.

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