Parents, PTA members and students representing Youth's Benefit Elementary School were all in agreement at —the school needs a new building.
The school, which is already over capacity by roughly 150 students and the largest elementary school in Harford County, faces poor sanitary conditions, boarded up water fountains due to lead contamination, over crowded classrooms, limited technology, and leaking roofs. These were just a few of the problems mentioned by supporters of a new building Monday evening.
Youth's Benefit parent Sandy Boyd, who also volunteers at the school, complained about the lack of technology currently offered since the school's computer lab was taken out and replaced with a classroom.
"There's a lot of 21st century skills and the technology and the computer lab is essential. We've got to get a building that supports that. It has to occur," Boyd said.
Boyd, like other parents Monday evening, continued to describe the poor conditions that she has witnessed while volunteering and visiting the elementary school.
"In the past two to three years, I've been in the building with the buckets dripping all around the students. It seems common in both schools we are talking about tonight," Boyd said. "Twice in the past two years, I was in the building where it wasn't an all call over the announcements, however, it was a 'Don't use the bathroom,' 'keep the kids from using the bathroom.' Of course that is very disturbing with our little ones."
The school is currently spread out over three different buildings which causes issues for students traveling from building to building during inclement weather. Making it one entire building would be the right thing to do, explained Youth's Benefit parent Stephanie Flasch.
Paul McMillin, who spoke on behalf of Build It Now, outlined the four critical filters that a school must exhibit for a new building as follows:
1. Does the school meet all four of the school system's criteria for replacement?
2. Is the school one of the board's top priorities for replacement?
3. Does the school currently have funding support from the county executive and the county council?
4. Is the project shovel ready?
"The reality is, Youth's Benefit would pass all four of these filters. In fact it maybe the only project in the county that would pass through those four filters," McMillin said.
Hilary Jenkins-Spangler, another parent from Youth's Benefit, explained in a perfect world both schools—Havre de Grace High School and Youth's Benefit Elementary—would be built.
"Both schools are clearly worthy of a new building," Jenkins-Spangler said.
Now, it is up to the to decide which one.
The proposed will be voted on at the Board of Education meeting beginning at 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 24.