Author: fkbowman

Facts about Calvert Regional Park

Straight Talk About Calvert Regional Park

Calvert Regional Park is a Cecil County Parks and Recreation facility being built in phases on Brick Meeting House Rd. near the intersection with RT 273.

There is little disagreement that the park is beautiful and should be a source of pride. It’s home to Cecil County’s first artificial turf playing field as well as 9 additional fields and a walking trail.

turf field at calvert park

Cecil County Parks and Recreation has the lowest per capita funding in the state of Maryland

I have always been supportive of Cecil County Parks and Rec, in fact, I emailed Cecil County Executive Tari Moore and the county council on May 7, 2013 to support the department’s annual budget request:

…CCPR offers a wide range of activities at price levels that are accessible to many residents. I’m impressed with the work Cecil County has done to provide facilities especially in these down economic times…

Three years later, CCPR continues to offer programs at fees that are significantly lower than similar nearby programs and is another example of a Cecil County department doing more with less.

How much less?
Cecil County spends only $9 per person per year on parks and recreation programs–the lowest per capita spending in the state of Maryland! The statewide average is $99.

Shocking. Sad.


To summarize what I’ve said so far: Yay, Cecil County Parks and Rec! You’re doing the best you can with the meager funding you’ve received.

Now, let’s talk about the points that we may disagree on.

Comments from the Cecil County Budget Hearing

Last week the citizens of Cecil County had an opportunity to share our thoughts with the Cecil County Council about the proposed budget for FY 2017. It was the smallest crowd I’ve seen for a budget hearing in the last few years but it was also held considerably later than in years past and was scheduled for the Thursday before Memorial Day so I’m sure families were busy making plans for the long weekend or attending the many little league games that have had to be postponed during this soggy spring.

Some of the usual groups attended and advocated for funding for Cecil College, the Cecil County Public Library, and Cecil County Public Schools. We gave our usual remarks and even joked on our way out about the frustration of having to say essentially the same thing every year with little change in behavior from the county.

I used my three minutes to cover the points in my recent blog post about my mixed feelings on the budget (Here’s a link if you haven’t read it)

At the end of my allotted time, I talked about Calvert Park, I asserted that no more money should be invested in the park until the more pressing needs of the county have been met.

The powers that be in Cecil County have watched the school system’s deferred maintenance list balloon to $44 million over the last decade. Now the county appears to be willing to put the department of public works on a similarly destructive path by slashing its budget by $2.4 million, including the elimination of $1 million of paving. Here’s a post about that.

As long as Cecil County can’t adequately fund necessities like schools, roads, and law enforcement, it has no business investing more money in Calvert Park.

As long as the existing playing fields at our schools are either bare or nothing but weeds, no more money should be invested in constructing additional playing fields at a facility that many kids in our county will never have the opportunity to play on.

Facts about the Calvert Regional Park project

Here are the facts I’ve dug up about the Calvert Park project.


$8,913,000 Total Project Cost
$4,907,000 Amount Spent Thru FY 2016
$1,826,000 Proposed Spending for FY 2017

Source: Cecil County Maryland 2017 Capital Improvement Program (CIP), Proposed March 21, 2016

How would that $1.8 million be spent?

While there are few details of the project in the CIP, here’s how it was described in a November 19, 2015 article from the Cecil Guardian:

“…enhancing the already popular trail in the park, adding two more playing to the current ten fields at the park, a dog park, and additional parking.”

Did you get that? Paving at one facility in the entire county but cutting the budget for paving county roads…and a dog park. I love dogs; our giant beast of a mutt nearly smothers me every night but Cecil County is a long way from being able to afford a dog park.

A few additional facts about Calvert Park

One of the main justifications for developing Calvert Park the possibility of drawing large sports tournaments to the area. Phrases like “sports tourism” and the promise of “economic revitalization” have been tossed around as supporters grasped to justify the project.

Here’s one problem:

A privately funded sports complex is being built 15 miles away in Middletown, DE–an area that already has the tourism infrastructure required to host a large tournament like hotels and restaurants. Here’s an article with more information

When completed, the Delaware Sports Complex will include, among other things:

  • 20 World Cup-sized fields
  • 16 Baseball/Softball diamonds
  • A full-sized indoor turf field with seating for 1,000

That’s way out of our league. In sporting terms, that facility will be the equivalent of the show and we’ll be playing single A ball.

Project Benefits One Area of the County

Since my sons are older teens, I thought neither of them would eever have the opportunity to play on the only turf field in the county because it’s padlocked shut. Fortunately or unfortunately, Perryville High School hosted the UCBAC track and field meet on our new track on the same day our boys’ lacrosse team was required to play a playoff game. An arrangement was worked out that allowed Perryville High School and Bohemia Manor High School to play on the turf at Calvert Park.

Calvert Park is a beautiful facility and those who can travel there will continue to enjoy it but it won’t be the huge economic driver some in the county are hoping for.

North East and Rising Sun will see some economic activity from the facility but towns farther away like Perryville and Elkton will see little economic benefit.

Where’s the casino money? I think part of it is going to Calvert Park

Ah, the casino money (video lottery terminals, in political speak). Aside from the portion the County awards through the annual grant program and the amount the town of Perryville receives, I haven’t spent much time thinking about where Cecil County spends the rest of the money.

Until I started looking at the county’s CIP…

A chunk of the casino money is going to the Calvert Park project:

2015 $187,000
2016 $292,000
2017 $187,000
2018 $187,000

By the time the project is completed, $853,000 of the VLT funds funds will have been spent there. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with using part of the revenue from the casino on such a project, however, it appears to be the only capital project that is planned to receive funding from that source in FY 2017, at least as far as I can tell from the CIP.

The Cecil County Council Deliberates on the FY 2017 Budget today and votes on Tuesday

The Cecil County budget will be finalized in the next few days. I encourage you to contact our county representatives with your opinions on the budget.
Here are email addresses to copy and paste: [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]

Cecil County Paving Budget Cut

Proposed Budget Cuts Cecil County Road Maintenance Budget in Half

At least they won’t be paving paradise?

In my last post I shared some of the reasons for my mixed feelings on the budget Cecil County Executive Tari Moore proposed on April 1–but not all of them.

While I’m a vocal advocate for public education, I also expect the county to adequately fund the other operations that are necessary for modern society. Emergency services, public works, law enforcement are just some of the departments and activities that are critical to the future of our county.

Thumbing through my dog-eared copy of the FY 2017 Proposed Budget in Brief, I was shocked to see the budget for the Cecil County Department of Public Works reduced by $2.4 million next year. Click here to read it for yourself

“The Department of Public Works is proposed to be funded for FY 17 at$ 9,698,038, a decrease of $2,376,304, or 19.7% versus FY 16, largely due to decreased funding support for road overlay.”

The budget specifically notes a $1.8 million reduction in the Roads Maintenance budget, a 46.1% decrease compared to the FY 2016 Revised Budget.  (page 17)

Has road maintenance gotten cheaper?

Probably not.

Are our roads in such great shape that few need paving and repair this year?


The $2.1 million proposed for Roads Maintenance is significantly lower than the actual costs in FY 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and the 2016 Year to Date Actual Costs of $2,830,351 (per the FY 2017 Expenditures Budget Report posted on the county website. There isn’t a date on the document so I’m not sure how much of the year’s expenses are actually represented).

Cecil County Road Maintenance Budget


And represents a 100% reduction in “Asphalt Overlay.” One million dollars for road paving–the entire budget for that line item–cut.

cecil county public works budget detail 2017

I’m a little surprised that there hasn’t been a peep from the council, the media, or the public questioning the proposal to cut road paving in 2017.

We’ve seen how such draconian and short sighted spending cuts have damaged our school infrastructure. Cecil County Public Schools and, therefore, the citizens of Cecil County are now facing a list of deferred maintenance projects totaling $44 million because of the county goverment’s decision to not adequately fund capital improvements at our schools.

Can we afford to have the same thing happen to our transportation infrastructure?

It’s not too late. The council will be deliberating on the budget in the coming week and will vote on June 7.

Email the county council and administration and share your thoughts with them.

Here are email addresses to copy and paste: [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]
If you had $1.8 million, what would you do?

The Cecil County Budget: The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly

It’s been nearly 8 weeks since Cecil County Executive Tari Moore introduced her proposed budget for FY 2017 and I’ve hardly posted a word about it. I’m sure some were hoping that I’d overlooked the fact that the Cecil County Council will be finalizing the budget in these next two weeks in advance of their vote on the final budget on June 7. I may have been distracted by an ugly county primary election and the high school lacrosse season but the bigger reason for not posting anything about the budget was that I have such mixed emotions about it.

Yes, there are positive parts of the budget for Cecil County Public Schools but there are parts of the budget that are disappointing for our school system, its employees, and the families and communities it serves.

Since the proposed budget was introduced at a press conference on April 1, I was holding out hope that it was an elaborate April Fool’s prank.

Unfortunately, after waiting 8 weeks for the “gotcha!” I’ve now got to face the facts.

So, here it goes, the good, the bad, and the ugly of the proposed FY 2017 budget. Click here to read the budget in brief document

The Good–Continuing the renewed commitment to large capital projects

Prior to the introduction of the FY 2016 budget last spring, it took herculean effort to secure funding from Cecil County for CCPS-related projects, most notably the new Cecil County School of Technology and the renovation of Perryville Elementary School. And without the county funding its share of additional large capital projects, the state of Maryland wouldn’t provide funding for its share of the projects. This meant that Cecil County missed out on potentially millions of dollars of capital projects during those years–basically “leaving money on the table” that the state would end up sending to other school systems.

During down economic times in Cecil County, those additional funds had the potential to change the lives of local tradespeople employed on infrastructure projects.

FY 2016
Cecil County Executive Tari Moore surprised many with her FY 2016 budget. For those of us advocating for public education, it was a pleasant surprise that included the funds for planning the replacement of Gilpin Manor Elementary School and a commitment to fund the planning of new school every two years.

Once planning funds were secured, CCPS set out designing not just the new Gilpin Manor school, but also developing those plans as a prototype for the Chesapeake City Elementary School replacement. Another example of CCPS leadership having the foresight and resourcefulness to make the most cost effective use of county funding.

FY 2017
The proposed FY 2017 continues the commitment to large capital projects for our schools. In addition to the final year’s funding for the extensive renovation of Perryville Elementary School, the proposed FY 2017 budget includes three significant new projects for CCPS:

Gilpin Manor Elementary School
With the plans for GMES nearly completed and approved at all levels, funding needed to be secured to begin construction. The county executive’s proposed budget includes $4.1 million in funding for the first year of construction. Additionally, CCPS was notified earlier this month that the state of Maryland approved nearly $4 million for towards its share of the project. This would be the first completely new school in the county since Rising Sun High School and Elk Neck Elementary School in 1991. Here’s the story from the Cecil Whig

Boiler Replacements
The proposed budget includes the county’s share of funding for boiler replacement projects at Bohemia Manor Middle/High School, Kenmore Elementary School, Cherry Hill Middle School, and Thomson Estates Elementary School. These projects were also recently approved to receive the state’s share of the necessary funding.

Chesapeake City Elementary School
The current Chesapeake City Elementary School was built in 1939 and lacks many features of a modern educational facility. The FY 2017 budget includes $900,000 to purchase the land necessary for the project.

The Bad–Minimal, er, maintenance of effort for the operating budget

My husband doesn’t follow the school budget process closely so our conversation that night after Tari Moore’s press conference to introduce her proposed budget went like this.

“What’s it called again–minimal effort?”

“Close enough and probably more accurate. It’s maintenance of effort.”

“Why did they even pretend to prepare a budget for the school system if they were just going to plug numbers into a formula and call it done?”

“My thoughts exactly. Do the quick math and ‘Voila, budget!'”

Contrary to what you might have read from various sources, including candidates for board of education, maintenance of effort is not a formula for adequate school funding. Instead, it’s a state law that provides a formula for the minimum funding a county can provide to its schools and was enacted to prevent a county from drastically and routinely underfunding public education.

“…the county governing body shall appropriate local funds to the school operating budget in an amount no less than the product of the county’s full–time equivalent enrollment for the current fiscal year and the local appropriation on a per pupil basis for the prior fiscal year.” Md. EDUCATION Code Ann. § 5-202

There are quite a few expenses that are not covered in the maintenance of effort formula yet are still the county’s responsibility. For example, the formula doesn’t provide any funding for pre-kindergarten students or take into account the added expenses associated with special education services even though these programs are required by law.

While there are a few situations where a county can request a waiver to fund its schools below the maintenance of effort, such requests must be approved by the state and are not taken lightly.

The FY 2016 budget felt like a light at the end of the long, dark tunnel for our school system. It included money to create a handful of sorely needed new positions, mainly in the area of special education. These new positions replace just a fraction of the jobs that had been cut in the last decade due to lack of funding. It also provided for cost of living and step increases for employees, expenses that are necessary to keep pay scales competitive with those in neighboring systems, both instate and out of state. As Superintendent Dr. D’ette Devine pointed out, “Pennsylvania loves to get teachers that we’ve trained,” but who leave our county for higher pay.

The CCPS FY 2017 budget request included 29 new positions:

  • Special education teachers and paraprofessionals
  • Music & art teachers
  • Drug education & student services teachers (to assist students who are dealing with the social issues in our communities)
  • Instructional coaches (The state requires that all new teachers be mentored for their first several years. I believe there are currently only two mentors serving the entire county.)
  • Custodians

Unfortunately, a maintenance of effort budget allows for few, if any, of those positions to be added.

The Ugly–

Finally, let’s rip the Band-aid off and talk about the County Executive’s proposed small capital budget.

Small capital projects are those that are too expensive to cover from the operating budget yet do not meet the criteria of large capital projects. These projects are not eligible for state funding and are solely the county’s responsibility. Few projects have been funded in recent years and I was hopeful that we would see an end to that trend.

Sadly, that wasn’t the case.

The county’s failure to provide adequate funding for improvements at our schools is well documented:

The Results of a Decade of Neglect

The Real Cost of Budget Cuts 3: Facilities, A Photo Essay

The Budget Battle Force Awakens

Cecil County has watched the CCPS deferred maintenance list balloon to $44 million over the last decade yet it has no plan for completing the projects on the list. At some point, the county needs to stop waiting for the Deferred Maintenance Fairy to arrive on the wave of some kind of miraculous economic boom. Hope is not a plan.

During the county executive’s press conference to announce her proposed budget for FY 2017, I asked about the small capital budget:

You can listen to it in this recording starting at the 18:00 minute mark. Here’s a transcript:

ME: (inaudible)…small cap budget…

CRAIG WHITEFORD (former Cecil County budget manager) : …For the public school system. Within the confines of our entire budgetary document, not just the budget in brief, although I think we did make mention of the small cap, I can just tell you. In the small cap for the public school system, it was Rising Sun High tennis courts and the associated basketball court.

WINSTON ROBINSON (finance director)/TARI MOORE: Along with the BTOP and Johnson Controls contract.

ME: And the other things like the cooling tower at Perryville?

WHITEFORD: They’re not proposed to be funded in the proposed budget [MOORE: That’s correct.] at this time.

ME: And if there’s a failure is the county prepared for such an event?


WHITEFORD: Well just like we do any time when something is proposed in the confines of a budget, we make ourselves available. It’s not as if the conversations occur after that type of thing would happen. Thoes conversations are ongoing. Our lines of communication remain open and we work together to try to meet the special needs as they occur so we’ll continue to do that.

Essentially, the vibe I got from the conversation was “Good luck, CCPS! You’re on your own (again).”

The Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP)  and Energy Performance Contract are the first two line items in the prioritized list CCPS provided to the county executive and they must be funded. The county can decide which pocket they’d like to use to fund those line items, but they must be funded.

The only other small capital project funded in the proposed budget? The replacement of the tennis courts and basketball courts at Rising Sun High School–a project that is sorely needed but is 10th on the request.

That’s right. CCPS provided a prioritized list of projects with the replacement of a cooling tower as third on the list–only outranked by the BTOP and Energy Performance Contract–and Cecil County chose to disregard the recommendations from the tradespeople who inspect, maintain, and repair these facilities and instead make the political move to recommend improvements at Rising Sun High School.

Why would they do such a thing? I can only think that the county decided to put CCPS in the unenviable position of taking funding slated for athletic facilities at Rising Sun High School and using it, instead, for a critical infrastructure project at Perryville High School. You can’t just pull a cooling tower out of a warehouse and install it overnight. If that cooling tower failed before it could be replaced it would be completely disruptive to the students and staff at Perryville.

Once again, Cecil County pinned CCPS between a rock and hard place.

And, once again, CCPS rose to the occasion.

They announced at the most recent board of education meeting that the school system had received approval for a nearly $400,000 discount on the FY 2016 BTOP expense and was applying for a discount of nearly $450,000 on the FY 2017 expense. Additionally, there is a bill up for council approval on June 21 that would transfer $400,000 from BTOP to three capital projects:

  • Replacement of the cooling tower at Perryville High School
  • Installation of a new waterline at Cecil Manor Elementary School
  • Partial replacement of the galvanized plumbing at Bohemia Manor High School

The leadership team at CCPS should be commended for continuing to find creative solutions to seemingly unsolvable problems. Here’s an article from the Cecil Whig: Federal broadband discount will help CCPS

Despite this bit of good news, there are still many projects that Cecil County will be forced to address at some point and there are still no plans for addressing them.

Next Steps

There’s still time to make a difference in the FY 2017 budget. Here’s how you can help:

  • Attend the budget hearing Thursday, May 26 at 7 PM at Elkton High School
  • Speak in support of education funding at an upcoming county council meeting. Here’s the meeting schedule.
  • Contact our county officials

To make it easier, just copy these email addresses and paste them into an email: [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]

If you are partial to mailing actual letters, send them to this address:

200 Chesapeake Blvd.
Elkton, MD 21921

Attention to:

Cecil County Executive
Tari Moore

Cecil County Council
Joyce Bowlsbey
Robert Hodge
Alan McCarthy
George Patchell
Dan Schneckenberger

You can find more contact info on the Cecil County website.

Cecil County FY 2017 proposed budget
Click here to read the Cecil County Proposed Budget in Brief
Icons made by Vectorgraphit from is licensed by CC 3.0 BY

Maybe he filed for the wrong office?

The Fringe, Part 2

In my last post I hypothesized that there were candidates running for Cecil County Board of Education seats for reasons other than a desire to advocate for the education of the children of Cecil County. Here’s a link in case you missed it 

In that post I provided screenshots that supported my theory from the candidates’ Facebook pages and included links to the actual posts on Facebook to further substantiate the facts.

Those screenshots were just the beginning.

While candidate Ron Lobos may have scrubbed his online presence clean since my last post, I took the time to capture some of his posts for posterity before they disappeared. I’d like to share some of those posts with you so you can see how they measure up against the laws and policies that he would be swearing to uphold if elected. (Anyone noticing the irony that the candidate crying for transparency from the board of education is deleting any comments that question the assertions he makes on his Facebook page?)

State Education Laws

Each newly elected member of the Cecil County Board of Education takes an oath to uphold the laws of the state of Maryland.

From the Md. EDUCATION Code Ann. § 4-101 (2016):

(b) Promotion of schools. — Each county board shall seek in every way to promote the interests of the schools under its jurisdiction.

Let’s compare that law with a post on the Ron Lobos for Cecil County School Board Facebook page from February 21:
 Lobos Public Education

“Just wondering Frances, if the County fully funded the budget requests for the CCPS, County Roads, Sheriff’s Department, Public Works, Libraries, and Parks and recreation, etc. for the last 5 years, what do you think our tax rate would be in Cecil County? It would be wonderful if we had an unlimited amount of money and we could just spend as much as we dream of, but this is not a dream. It is reality and every department must be treated fairly in a common sense fashion. I do not wish for the CCPS to be underfunded but I absolutely seek transparency.” Here’s a link to the page where these comments originally appeared–they have since been deleted. How very transparent of him.

The law makes no mention of board members advocating for other departments in the county yet Mr. Lobos is more concerned about the tax rate and budgets of other departments than funding the budget requests of the school system. These types of concerns are better addressed by positions in county government like county council or even county executive, not board of education.

Let’s look at another state law board of education members are accountable to:

§ 4-108. Duties in general  (2) Maintain throughout its county a reasonably uniform system of public schools that is designed to provide quality education and equal educational opportunity for all children;

In the same conversation from February 21, a commenter posts:

“Choose to go to private schools as I do not (sic) anyone else paying for MY responsibilities. Paying for school is just like buying food and clothing for my kids. If you cannot afford kids, maybe they should not have them. I do not ask the public to feeds (sic) or clothe my kids and will not ask them to pay for their education since I choose not to do it myself.”

Did Mr. Lobos post a comment defending the rights of all students to free public education? No, he or someone responding for the Ron Lobos for Cecil County School Board clicked the “Like” button on the comment instead.

lobos like private education

County Educational Policies

In addition to state laws and policies, board of education members are also accountable to policies at the county level.

From the Cecil County Boardmanship Standards Policy (Policy BBB)

Standards for Intra-Board Member Relationships
Members of the Board are expected to abide by the following standards in their relationships with each other when conducting business.

  1. Make decisions based upon a desire to serve the students in Cecil County in the best possible way;
  2. Represent the entire County, rather than individual election areas, groups or patrons;
The About section of Ron Lobos for Cecil County School Board states: “The average taxpayer has no representation within the board (only direct benefactors).” Since Mr. Lobos doesn’t provide a definition of the “average taxpayer” and the minor students of CCPS aren’t taxpayers, it doesn’t appear that he’s interested in representing them at all.

Lobos taxpayer

Keep in mind that Mr. Lobos identified himself as a conservative shortly after filing to run–despite the fact that school board positions are non-partisan.

We must make informed decisions about our school board     

Two board of education seats will be filled in this year’s election and the field for one seat will be narrowed to two candidates in next week’s primary election. If those seats are filled by candidates whose intentions are something other than advocating for free public education for all students in Cecil County, they could turn the board from the cooperative group that operates in a professional manner into a dysfunctional sideshow that distracts from the business of educating children.

If you think it’s not possible for a school board to be overtaken by a group with its own motives, listen to this episode of the This American Life podcast. (transcript)

Learn where each candidate stands on the issues. Read the candidates’ profiles from Cecil Whig. Watch their responses from the candidates forum on

Most importantly–vote in the primary election on Tuesday and the general election in November.

Are Fringe Candidates Attempting Hostile Takeover of Cecil County Board of Education?

To the uninformed voter (I admit I was a member of that group until recently), casting a vote for a board of education member may be a no-brainer. Since the positions are considered non-partisan, no party affiliation is noted next to the candidate’s name on the ballot.

Uh oh.

Now what do you do? You can’t throw darts in a polling place. Do you do a quick eeny, meeny, miny, moe chant? Flip a quarter? Every person that runs for board of education is doing it because they support public education, right?

Not so fast.

This year there are two candidates running as the “Conservative Education Slate” for seats on the Cecil County Board of Education. Kevin Emmerich is running in District 1 (Chesapeake City) and Ron Lobos is running in District 2 (Elkton).

Unfortunately for Cecil County, it appears these two candidates are attempting to start a hostile takeover of the board of education.

Why do I say that?

The fine print in one of their recent campaign images includes “Authority: Conservative Education Slate.”

Emmerich Lobos Conservative Slate

Need more evidence?

The Cecil County Campaign for Liberty shared the Cecil Whig article about Mr. Lobos’ decision to run for board of education. In the comments below the story, Mr. Lobos posts:

“I’m going to need a lot of help and support, mostly after I’m elected. That’s where the rubber meets the road. This will be a process to turn things around fiscally where we will need a majority of conservatives. Please support Kevin Emmerick for school board in the 1st district. He is also a conservative and I will need him just to second a motion when going to bat. Kevin is a good man.”

Cecil County Campaign for Liberty Lobos

Long before he filed to run for the board of education seat, Rob Lobos was an outspoken critic of CCPS. He routinely criticizes the school system at county council meetings, budget hearings, and town hall meetings and frequently shares his thoughts about CCPS on Facebook. Here’s one example:

“And now we have the CCPS asking her for an additional $8M that will be paid annually to them for the foreseeable future. Once again, Moore will make excuses for the CCPS and reward them for mismanaging their money.”

Lobos CCPS mismanagement

Now, he’s asking the citizens of Cecil County to elect him to a seat on the board of education.

What do Kevin Emmerich and Rob Lobos really think of our schools?

Emmerich Lobos Stool Bus

Cecil County Public Schools Board of Education Election

Primary election has implications for Cecil County Board of Education

April 26 is primary day in Maryland. One might think “Oh, it’s just a primary. I don’t need to vote,” and in some years that may be the case.

But not this year.

The primary election in Cecil County has real consequences for the future of our county–especially for our schools where two of the five seats on the Cecil County Board of Education are up for election.

Structure of the Cecil County Board of Education

The board of education is comprised of five districts and members are elected by the county at large. Board members are elected on a non-partisan basis per state law so no party affiliation is listed on ballots. Terms last four years and a member can serve two terms.

Much of the work of the board of education is governed by Maryland state law and, once elected, board members take an oath to operate in accordance with state laws.

Md. EDUCATION Code Ann. § 4-108 (2016)
§ 4-108. Duties in general

Each county board shall:

  1. To the best of its ability carry out the applicable provisions of this article and the bylaws, rules, regulations, and policies of the State Board;
  2. Maintain throughout its county a reasonably uniform system of public schools that is designed to provide quality education and equal educational opportunity for all children;
  3. Subject to this article and to the applicable bylaws, rules, and regulations of the State Board, determine, with the advice of the county superintendent, the educational policies of the county school system; and
  4. Adopt, codify, and make available to the public bylaws, rules, and regulations not inconsistent with State law, for the conduct and management of the county public schools.


The following specific duties and powers of the Board are enumerated in Title 4 of the Education Article:

  1. Required to maintain throughout Cecil County a reasonably uniform system of public schools designed to provide quality education and equal educational opportunity for all youth.
  2. Appoint a County Superintendent of Schools who shall serve as the executive officer, the secretary, and the treasurer of the Board.
  3. Determine the educational policies with the advice of the Superintendent. The Board is subject to statutory law and to bylaws, rules and regulations of the State Board of Education.
  4. Prescribe rules and regulations for the conduct and management of the schools.
  5. Establish schools subject to the approval of the State Superintendent of Schools and determine the geographical attendance areas for all schools with the advice of the County Superintendent.
  6. May establish and maintain day and evening schools for adults.
  7. Hold property vested in the Board.
  8. Purchase or otherwise acquire grounds, school sites or buildings, or rent, repair, improve and construct school buildings.
  9. Employ an architect or architects.
  10. Secure the services of attorneys at law to represent the Board when deemed necessary by the Board.
  11. Establish such advisory committees as the Board deems necessary.
  12. Acquire land for the site of a school or for enlarging a school site for playgrounds or for other school purposes by instituting condemnation proceedings in accordance with applicable laws and regulations.
  13. Consolidate schools.
  14. Arrange for transportation of pupils subject to applicable laws and bylaws.
  15. Appoint, on the written recommendation of the County Superintendent, all principals, teachers and all other certificated personnel and fix their salaries subject to the provisions of Section 6-201 of the Education Article.
  16. Establish, upon the written recommendation of the County Superintendent of Schools and subject to the provisions of the Education Article and regulations of the State Board of Education, curriculum guides and courses of study including appropriate programs for mentally and physically handicapped children.
  17. Cause to be taken, under the direction of the County Superintendent, a school census.
  18. May enter into agreements with the County Commissioners for the cooperative or joint administration of programs.
  19. Appoint during the month of February, a Superintendent of Schools for a term of four (4) years beginning the first day of July next succeeding the appointment. (This appointment must be approved by the State Superintendent of Schools.)
  20. Enter into contracts validated by the written approval of the County Superintendent of Schools.
  21. Suspend or dismiss certificated personnel in accordance with the provisions of applicable law and bylaws of the State Board of Education.
  22. Prepare a budget with the advice of the County Superintendent of Schools.
  23. Have all accounts audited and made public.
  24. Make reports to the State Board of Education.
  25. Have Annual Report prepared and published.
  26. Cause the American flag to be displayed in each school during school hours.
  27. Provide and equip the Office of County Superintendent.
  28. Provide such means of transportation as are necessary for the effective and efficient performance of the official duties of the Superintendent and her professional assistants.
  29. Upon the recommendation of the County Superintendent, adopt procedures for the selection and purchase of textbooks and other school supplies.
  30. Establish policies for promotion and graduation of pupils, subject to rules and regulations of the State Board of Education.
  31. With the assistance of the County Health Department, provide adequate school health services and instruction in health.

NOTE: The list above is descriptive, but is not all inclusive in detail.

Candidates for Board of Education in Cecil County

In District 1 (Chesapeake City), current board of education member and former county commissioner William Manlove is running for re-election against Kevin Emmerich. In District 2 (Elkton), current board of education member Lauren Camphausen is completing her second term and is not eligible for re-election. Her seat is being contested by Erin Doordan, Jim Fazzino, and Ron Lobos. According to election laws, the two candidates for District 1 will compete in the general election and the three candidates for District 2 will be narrowed to two in the primary and those two will compete against each other in the general election.

How important can a board of education election be?

In the last two years, I’ve learned just how critical it is to have a board of education that works well as a team and with the administration. The board of education meetings I’ve attended might not have been exciting but they were professional and productive and I’ve never doubted the intentions of the participants.

I can’t say the same for all the candidates running for board of education.

Your vote counts in this election

Regardless of our party affiliation, we all need to vote in the primary on April 26. (Early voting runs from 4/14/16-4/21/16) But before you vote, learn more about the candidates’ intentions and motivations for running for board of education.

Visit the candidates’ Facebook pages

Erin Doordan

Kevin Emmerich

Jim Fazzino

Ron Lobos

This isn't a field house

Alright, Perryville, I’m calling you out!

Updated 2/6/17 to include FY18 budget info and change county contacts

If your child is in the Perryville High School “feeder pattern,” (which means he or she attends or will attend Perryville High School. This includes students attending Charlestown, Bainbridge, Conowingo, and Perryville Elementary schools and Perryville Middle School), it’s time for us to speak out together in support of capital projects that are critical needs at the school.

This year’s CCPS small capital budget request to County Executive Alan McCarthy includes three projects for Perryville High School. Two are long overdue, one is part of a system-wide school safety initiative. Regardless, if we don’t advocate for these projects, there is little chance they will be included in the County Executive’s proposed budget FY 2018 which he will present to the County Council on 3/31/17.

CCPS budget request FY18

County-funded Projects Requested for Perryville High School

Tennis court resurfacing–Cost $200,000

Requested since the FY 2014 budget

Enhanced security at building entrance–Cost $250,000

The building is secure and visitors must be buzzed in the locked doors during the school day but, once a person comes in the front door, there is nothing to prevent them from traveling the short distance down the hallway into the cafeteria, auditorium, or gym. All spaces that are used by classes during the school day. Funding for security enhancements at Elk Neck Elementary, Elkton Middle, Rising Sun High, and Kenmore Elementary is also included in the FY 2018 capital budget request.

Field house–Cost $2,000,000

Perryville is the only high school in the county without a field house. I’m not sure why the county has refused to fund this project for so long but it’s become quite clear that the school won’t get one if we don’t speak out in support of it. This has been part of the budget request since at least 2009

If you have ever said the words “Perryville needs field house,” I’m calling you out.

In the six years I’ve spent on the sidelines of sporting events, I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve heard people complain about the absence of a field house at Perryville. The time for grumbling is over. It’s time to email or call County Executive McCarthy and let him know you support funding for a field house at Perryville.

perryville calling you out

Out of sight, Out of mind?

Three years ago, when I first spoke to the county council, at least one of the council members assumed that the building housing the snack shack, press box, and cramped bathrooms was our field house. (Are you done laughing yet?) Sitting in that meeting I realized that the members of the council were not familiar with the facilities at most of our schools and that’s when I started posting photos on this blog.

There aren’t that many schools in the system or in any one council member’s district, how is it acceptable that they haven’t visited at least most of them during their terms in office? It’s little wonder our young adults aren’t active in local politics when they have never heard of these officials or seen them on school property–even at graduation.

Officials rush to attend events with ribbon cuttings and reporters–they need to also show up at events like concerts, plays, and sports to see the good things happening in our community schools as well as the needs. When you don’t have to set foot on the properties that you’ve refused to maintain or improve or see the students who attend those schools, it’s easier to treat them as just another line item in a budget.

For the last decade, the county has funded few of the capital projects that CCPS has requested, leaving us with a huge, expensive backlog that is growing more expensive with each passing year. As construction costs climb, continuing to defer these projects will result in the county paying more for projects that have been identified for years.

Athletics are Underfire

There are groups in this county who believe Cecil County should not fund ANY sports or athletic facilities at our public schools and they are vocal in their misguided thinking. In fact, this may be an issue that differentiates the candidates in our upcoming local elections.

What Can You Do?

Contact the County Executive and members of the County Council and encourage them to fund the small capital budget CCPS request. County Executive McCarthy will submit his proposed budget to the County Council on 3/31/17 so it’s important that he hears from us now.

County Executive

Alan McCarthy–[email protected]
(410) 996-5203


Director of Administration

Al Wein–[email protected]
(410) 996-8300


County Administration Building
200 Chesapeake Blvd., Suite 2110, Elkton, MD 21921


What’s all this talk about transparency?

Every Cecil County budget cycle is a battle and this year will be even more contentious with a primary election on April 26 that will include fights for county executive, county council, and school board. This primary and the general election in November have the potential to change Cecil County for years to come and, so far, it’s not clear if that change will keep us moving forward in our uphill battle or send us crashing backwards to the ground.

Several of the candidates have said they will push Cecil County Public Schools to be more transparent with their financial reports and student test scores.


I’m not sure how CCPS could be more transparent in these areas.

Transparency of Cecil County Public Schools’ Financial Reports

Nearly all CCPS financial documents are easily found on the school system’s website. You don’t have to call anyone to request the documents, fill out any forms, or even create an online login. Just look for them and print them. Annual reports, budget request presentations, proposed annual budgets, and approved annual budgets back to FY 2006 are all available on the CCPS Budget page, free for anyone who wants to take the time to read them. If you don’t want to kill a tree, you can download them to your computer to read at another time.

If it makes you feel any better, the team that puts these reports has received a long string of awards for governmental financial reporting so we can safely say they’ve got this area covered.

Curious how the school system is doing month to month and against its annual budget?

CCPS chief financial officer Thomas Kappra presents year to date budget reports at the board of ed meetings. These reports compare the current year’s expenses and revenue to both the approved budget and last year’s actual results.

Can’t attend the board of education meeting?

If you can’t attend a board of education meeting you can still access the YTD budget reports via the CCPS Board Docs portal. Board Docs could be your favorite tool for researching the current events in the school system. Meeting agendas and supporting documents are posted on the site in advance of the meetings and other documents (mostly personnel-related) are posted after receiving board approval. Here’s a link to the FY 2016 Budget Update from the Feb. 8, 2016 meeting.

What types of supporting documents are posted on the CCPS website?

Aside from the budget updates, you can also find reports supporting purchasing activities, like bids and contracts on the website.

Here are a few examples:

Natural Gas Supply Contract–CCPS joined with large employers in Elkton to negotiate natural gas prices as a group

Dump Truck Purchase–CCPS purchased a used truck, previously owned by Cecil County Government, at auction. (Pause for a minute to let that sink in. The truck was supposedly too old for the county to keep but the school system had to buy it at auction. You would think there would be a way to transfer a cast-off vehicle between county agencies but that doesn’t appear to be the case.)

Medical Claim Audit Services–CCPS secured an outside auditor to review medical claims for FY 2014 and 2015 and evaluate them against industry and contractual standards. Such an audit is prudent because health care expenses for current and retired employees are one of the biggest line items in the CCPS budget.

Transparency of Cecil County Public Schools’ Test Results

I’ve also heard people calling for transparency with Cecil County’s test results. Fortunately for them, the Maryland Department of Education has already taken care of this by publishing test results, demographics, and other statistics for each local education agency (LEA) in the state on its Maryland Report Card website. There’s enough data here to keep you busy for days.

Pushing for more transparency makes a nice quote in the paper but the reality is that the information is already out there–just waiting for you to start sifting through it.

Prepare to Vote in the Primary 4/26/16

If you believe a strong school system is the foundation of a thriving community, please do your own research about the candidates in the upcoming primary election and come out to vote.

Decade of Neglect

The Results of a Decade of Neglect

Read “A Field House, Fund Balance, & School Entrances: A Decade of Neglect Update 5/12/18”

Updated 2/13/17

You don’t have to attend too many budget hearings or council meetings before you recognize the ceaseless cries of “The county needs to live within its means.” The howls come from a relatively small group who vocally demand that the county cut “out of control” spending. It’s like reciting lines from a bad movie you’ve seen many times but just can’t resist watching when it’s on TV.

Yawn. Until those demanding “fiscal conservatism” roll up their sleeves, start reading the financial documents, and cite specifics, these are just opinions. And you can’t effectively run a business, a county government, or a school system on opinions.

But we do agree on one point

Imagine how shocked I was to realize I agree with them on one point: Cecil County hasn’t been living within its means. For too long the county has been neglecting some of its obligations because it couldn’t figure out how to cover all of its expenses. Adequate schools, well-maintained roads, and properly equipped emergency services aren’t extravagances, they are the cost of living in modern society.

During the FY16 budget season, there was hot debate over necessities: replacement AEDs OR emergency communications systems OR long neglected capital projects at county schools.

We aren’t choosing toppings for a pizza–it shouldn’t be an either/or decision. In many cases ALL the requests are necessary.

At different points in that budget cycle, both (former) County Executive Tari Moore and (current) Council Member Alan McCarthy remarked that Cecil County needs to start addressing mandates that aren’t currently being met regarding emergency radio communications (deficiencies in that system made the news again that spring), water treatment, and school services.

Cecil County, ALL of these items are our responsibility whether we individually agree with the mandate or not. It’s not a matter of IF we meet these needs, it’s a matter of how. The county can choose how it plans to comply with and fund these programs but they must be implemented.
Unfortunately, for the last decade, Cecil County has neglected sufficient funding for capital improvements so there is now a backlog of expensive but still critical needs. One glaring example is the Cecil County Public Schools’ list of deferred maintenance projects that now totals over $49 million–up $5 million over last year.

How does CCPS determine facilities needs?

Public school facilities in Maryland are overseen by the Board of Public Works (BPW), Interagency Committee on School Construction (IAC), and the  Public School Construction Program (PSCP)  Those entities have a:

“…strong interest in the proper maintenance of Maryland’s public school facilities. For all types of facilities, the useful life of the structure is greatly extended through a preventive maintenance program that protects the asset and corrective maintenance activities that address emergent deficiencies. Good maintenance defers the need for repairs and major renovation, and reduces the cost of renovation when it is eventually needed. Regular maintenance ensures that the operation of the building, including its energy efficiency, will remain optimal even under adverse weather conditions. For schools in particular, good maintenance helps to protect the health of young students and establishes an environment in which the focus of administrators, teachers, and the students themselves can remain on learning, rather than on the building. “ PSCP Annual Report

Each fall CCPS is required to prepare a Comprehensive Maintenance Plan (CMP) detailing the maintenance activities that are projected to occur in the next 10 years. CCPS is also required to prepare a Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) detailing current and future major renovations and new buildings. The CMP and CIP must be submitted to the State Public School Construction Program for review and approval.

What are “Deferred Maintenance” Projects?

Projects on the deferred maintenance list are too costly to complete from funds in the annual maintenance budget and end up as part of the CCPS capital budget request. Unfortunately, few projects have received county funding in recent years so the list continues to grow as CCPS does the best it can to address projects on the list with the available funds or the projects expand to become a large capital request (like when “repair” becomes “replacement”).
Lest you think the list of deferred maintenance projects is the result of some failing of CCPS, the state praised the school system for its work in the Maintenance of Maryland’s Public School Buildings FY 2014 Annual Report published on Jan. 15, 2016:

“Five schools were inspected in January 2014. Original existing square footage at these schools dates from 1937 to 2005, with adjusted building ages ranging from 47 to 11 years at the time of inspection. All of the inspected schools were first constructed before 1980 and have received various additions and renovations. The survey results demonstrate the good maintenance practices and outstanding custodial care that the IAC has come to expect in Cecil County. The school receiving the lowest score and having the oldest adjusted age, the Cecil School of Technology, is scheduled to have its program moved in Fall 2015 to a newly renovated facility in Elkton, Maryland. This is significant because of the innovative approach CCPS took to meet their need for an expanded career and technology program: rather than building a new facility or renovating the existing school, they purchased and renovated a commercial research and development facility that came with a high-bay area, advanced science laboratories, conference space, and a sophisticated electrical system. The entire project cost considerably less than a replacement school. Sited in an industrial park, the building will facilitate alignments between the educational programs and industry sponsors.” 

Small Capital Budget Requests Have Gone Unfunded

Now that we have some background on maintenance and capital improvements, let’s talk about the history of a few of the projects in the capital budget request.

The school system’s capital request is divided into the following categories:

  • Large capital projects which are funded jointly by the state and county
  • Small capital projects which are the responsibility of the county

Since the state provides roughly 60% of the funding for large capital projects, let’s focus on the small capital projects.

A Grand Slam of Dilapidated Tennis Courts

During the discussions for the FY 2016 Cecil County Budget, the sad state of the tennis courts at three high schools was a frequent topic. The CCPS budget request included $375,000 for the replacement of tennis courts at Rising Sun, Elkton, and North East High Schools. But these projects shouldn’t have been news to anyone following county budgets because tennis courts have been a part of the request for several years:

  • Rising Sun High School tennis courts Funded in FY17 budget
    • Requested since 2013. The FY 2017 request will be its 5th year on the list.
  • North East High School tennis courts Funded in FY18 budget
    • Requested since 2014
  • Elkton High School tennis courts
    • Requested since 2014. Not included in FY 2017 request.
    • Courts were unplayable for several weeks during the Spring 2018 season which forced the team to play “home games” on the road and leave school early each day to practice at another facility.
  • Perryville High School tennis courts
    • Included in FY 2015, FY 2017, FY 2018 requests.
    • Courts were unplayable for several weeks during the Spring 2018 season which forced the team to play “home games” on the road.

That means tennis courts at four of the county’s five high schools need to be replaced. If there’s any silver lining, it’s that CCPS may find some economies of scale in replacing them all at once.

Cecil Manor Elementary School Needs to be Connected to Municipal Water 

Since 2014, CCPS has requested funding to connect Cecil Manor Elementary School to nearby municipal water lines. What’s the downside to the school remaining on well water? From a dollars and cents perspective, local well water tends to speed the deterioration of HVAC equipment, one of the most expensive systems in any building. From a water quality perspective, higher than normal nitrate levels are reported at the school from time to time. This contamination is mostly due to nearby agricultural activity.
CCPS funded this with the BTOP discount

Long and Bumpy Roads

Without adequate funding for maintenance and capital projects, CCPS estimates it would cost upwards of $1 million just to put a dent in the school system’s paving needs. Most concerning is the deterioration that is evident in the bus loops–spots where heavy buses drop off and pick up hundreds of students 180 days a year. The bus loops at BoManor Thomson Estates, and Kenmore Elementary are especially damaged. (A budget amendment in FY 2014 funded some paving at Perryville, North East, and Rising Sun High schools. CCPS worked in cooperation with Cecil County Department of Public Works to complete those projects as cost-effectively as possible.)

Cecil County, the Schools are YOUR Responsibility

CCPS is a component unit of Cecil County government with no taxing authority so paying for maintenance and improvements is largely the responsibility of the county. Choosing to continue this trend of minimal funding for small capital projects is a choice to disregard the county’s obligation to maintain facilities built using taxpayer funds.
Below is the small capital budget request CCPS submitted to Cecil County for FY17. I’ve noted which line items were funded and the source of the funding. The projects in the request are prioritized, with the most important at the top. The county funded the first two lines because they are multi-year obligations–then they skipped over quite a few mechanical systems requests to fund tennis courts at Rising Sun High School. I’m not denying that the RSHS tennis courts required resurfacing. I even went out to see the conditions for myself.
Fortunately, CCPS applied for and received a discount of $400,000 on the BTOP program and used that money to fund the next three projects on the list.
Cecil County Public Schools FY17 small capital budget vs funding
The projects on this list won’t go away–if you ignore them they will only become bigger, more expensive projects. And at $11 million, this list represents less than one quarter of the total projects on the $49 million deferred maintenance list.
CCPS small capital budget request vs funding, 2015-2017
It’s time to face the facts and start funding capital projects again so CCPS can begin to whittle away at this list.

Tell the County You Support Adequate Capital Funding in the FY 2018 Cecil County Budget

New Cecil County Executive Alan McCarthy is now working with his team to draft the budget that he will send to the County Council in on March 31. Once the County Council receives the budget, they can either approve it as proposed or cut from it. The council can’t add to the budget so we need to voice our expectations NOW.

How can you advocate for public education in Cecil County?

There are several ways:

  • Attend the County Executive’s town hall on Wednesday at 6 PM
  • Email County Executive Alan McCarthy at [email protected] & Director of Administration Al Wein at [email protected]
  • Call the County Executive at (410) 996-5203 or Mr. Wein at (410) 996-8300

If snail mail is your thing, you can send that to the County Administration Building at 200 Chesapeake Blvd., Suite 2110, Elkton, MD 21921

No matter which method of communication you prefer, show your support for adequate public education funding in Cecil County.

Related Posts

Proposed Budget Cuts Cecil County Road Maintenance Budget in Half

The Cecil County Budget: The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly

Paying for College in Cecil County

An Ode to High School Guidance Counselors

During the public comment portion of one of last year’s Cecil County Public Schools Board of Education budget meetings, a citizen remarked  “…the board often talks about preparing students for college but rarely talks about preparing students to pay for college…” His comment was later reported in the Cecil Whig.

While I haven’t heard much discussion about financial aid for college at the board of education meetings I’ve attended in the last few years, that doesn’t mean county high school students and families don’t receive information and support on the college application process or financial aid opportunities. In fact, our older son graduated from Perryville High School 2015 and the guidance office couldn’t have done more to help students find scholarship money.

Introduction to the College Application Process

In the first semester of his junior year, the guidance office held parent meetings about the college application process. My son’s guidance counselor told us about online resources to research colleges and scholarships and gave us a timeline for applying. He encouraged students to start drafting essays, participating in extra curricular activities, and performing community service to make themselves more attractive to colleges. He even added tips like asking teachers for recommendations at the end of junior year so they could write the letters during the summer break. He also explained that the PHS guidance office kept a file of scholarship applications that was updated frequently and encouraged students to check it regularly.

Financial Aid Workshop

In the first semester of his senior year, the guidance counselor held a parent meeting specifically about financial aid. A representative from the financial aid office of Cecil College explained the importance of the FAFSA application and the process for completing it in order to meet state deadlines. Parents were provided with a booklet of scholarships compiled by the guidance departments of the county high schools. Inside this handy booklet scholarships were categorized in several ways including:

  • Academic area of study (education, STEM, nursing, etc.)
  • Extra curricular activity (both community service and sport specific)
  • High school

The booklets were also given to seniors with their 1st marketing period report card.

College Fairs

Each fall CCPS organizes a college fair that is hosted at one of our high schools. Here’s a promotion I received about the 2014 fair:

“I’d like to remind everyone that the 2014 CCPS College and Career Fair will be held at Elkton High School this upcoming Wednesday, October 1st from 6 PM until 8 PM. There will be over 70 colleges, universities, technical schools, and armed forces recruiters available to speak with students and families.

There will also be four presentations available with very important information. The topics of these presentations are:

  • Junior Year Timeline (not applicable to seniors)
  • The College Application Process
  • NCAA Athletics
  • Financial Aid

The format of the fair allows everyone to be able to attend two of these four workshops, which is a great way to learn about the various topics and prepare yourselves for the upcoming months.”

I ran across the promotional email for the 2013 college fair and the line up was very similar. I believe the 2015 College Fair was held at Rising Sun High School.

Scholarship Nights & Emailed Updates

At the individual school level, PHS held a scholarship night in the spring of 2015 to match students with other available local scholarships. And we received countless email messages from his guidance counselor as scholarship opportunities arose during the year–a quick search of my email box lists 56 messages from that year and I know deleted some.

I’m sure the guidance office provided other support that I wasn’t even aware of.

Can’t Beat the Value of a Community College Education

While some families may only consider four year colleges, Cecil College is an affordable local option and CCPS works closely with the college to help students make that transition. Last year, they even administered the college placement tests at PHS.

LIke any college, Cecil College has an active financial aid office to help students in need. It also has its own foundation that provides scholarships to students for academic merit.  Here are articles from the Cecil Whig about the 2015 and 2016 scholarships.

Additionally, CCPS adopted a policy to allow students to receive high school credit for courses taken at Cecil College. In the fall semester of this school year, a professor from Cecil College came to Perryville High School each week to teach Psychology 101. Taking college classes at your local high school (and I think for a reduced tuition)?! Yes, please, we need more of this!

I’ll admit that I am partial to community college education since I received my associate’s degree from Harford Community College over 20 years ago and went on to get my bachelor’s degree from the University of Baltimore. (If you are in Harford County, be sure to check out the Alfred O’Connell Scholarship program at HCC.)

Because I had such a positive experience at Harford Community, we planned for our sons to start their college careers at Cecil College. Our older son is in his second year at Cecil and we couldn’t be happier with his experience there.

Paying for college in Cecil County is a challenge, just like anywhere else, but to say CCPS doesn’t help students find financial aid is nowhere near accurate. I encourage you to talk with your child’s guidance counselor to learn about the many resources available.