BEL AIR, Md — Under the proposed cuts, schools across Harford County would have to do more with less---150 fewer teachers and a few dozen less administrators, and a mother of two students in the system, Becky Maloy, says cramming more students into fewer classrooms isn't the answer.
"The classroom sizes are huge, which makes it harder for the teacher to meet the needs of the students,” said Maloy, “The students are literally sitting one on top of the other."
Harford County Public Schools Superintendent Sean Bulson says he had no intention of wrecking people's holidays, but he owes it to them to let them know what's coming.
"We employ too many people for the revenue we receive, and so we knew we had to do position cuts,” said Bulson, “Probably the biggest driver of our increased costs is healthcare, and of course that is directly tied to the number of people you employ."
Bulson started out as an English teacher, but he knows enough about math to realize something had to give facing almost a $35 million budget shortfall.
In talks with five separate employee associations, no one wanted to cut salaries or pay increases, so he's turned to cutting positions.
In the spring, it will be up to the county to determine whether the schools will get any more money, than expected to work with.
"I'm pretty confident that there could be more,” said Bulson, “Not as much as we need maybe. That's something we have to do over time, but I do have some confidence that we could be looking at a little more revenue."
"And you would adjust positions accordingly if you could?" we asked.
"Yes. Absolutely,” he replied, “If we were in a position to restore anything, we'd be looking at those classroom positions first."
That's the focus of concerned parents, like Becky Maloy, who say they know the costs of cutting back in the classroom.
"At the end of the day, the students are the ones that suffer."
Ryan Blosser of North Harford High School agrees. "All students in this county deserve the opportunity to learn and I feel like that opportunity is being taken away."
And parents are sick of these proposed.
"Over the past four years, Harford County Public Shools has cut over 400 jobs at all levels to try and meet the budget—this didn’t happen overnight," said Tricia Hubbard.