Harford County teachers protest over lack of school funding

The support was loud and clear during a march and protest Tuesday evening and so is the message. Teachers and community members believe Harford County Public Schools are in dire need of additional funding.

"Harford County Public Schools is one of the lowest funded school systems in the state of Maryland. We're 19th out of 24 for school funding. Our teachers haven't had their contracts honored in four out of the past five years," Ryan Burbey, president of the Harford County Education Association, said.
Burbey says hundreds of teachers are leaving every year.

To prove their point, teachers stepped out of the classroom and onto the streets with their friends and families.

"It's very difficult. The majority of the people that are doing this it's because they're very dedicated. They're there for the students. They want to see the students achieve," said Harford County Educational Services Council president Victoria Bridges.

School employees weren't on their own Tuesday evening.

Harford County resident Jerry Williams attended the protest to show his support.

"It's just not a concern of the teachers, it's a concern of all the residents and if they're not, they should be concerned because like I said, they're taking care and leading our children," Williams said.

The budget for next year hasn't been released yet. However, Burbey says history has proven they won't get what the Board of Education has requested -- a $30 million increase over last year.

"That's really just to maintain current programming and fund contracts. So it's just really a dire situation," Burbey said.

Harford County Council president Billy Boniface says revenues are tight and there is only so much the council can do once they get the budget proposal from County Executive David Craig.

"All we can do, as far as to the educational component, is make reductions elsewhere. How many deputies do you want us to take off the street in order to give an increase to a teacher? How many libraries do you want shut down so we can give increases to a teacher? And all the librarians and county employees aren't getting raises at this point too, so it's a very difficult situation," Boniface told ABC2.

County Executive Craig will be presenting the budget on April 15. It will then go into a two month process, which includes public hearings, before council passes it.

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