CECIL COUNTY — School funding was the hot topic on Thursday as 200 Cecil County residents attended the Fiscal Year 2024 budget public hearing at Elkton High School, with 60 speakers signed up to provide their thoughts on the budget.
Despite two speakers resigning, over 45 speakers spoke about funding Cecil County Public Schools as members of the county government and the County Council listened to their comments.
“You, the council, can ask the County Executive to amend her budget – she is not willing to listen to the experts in education,” said a former CCPS social studies teacher. “Maybe she will listen to the council and if you act, maybe you could help our schools. If not, you’re just as guilty as her and I look forward to voting against you in the next election.”
With the majority of speakers providing testimony in support of more funding for CCPS, the few speakers that spoke against additional funding were met with derisive comments, laughter and heckling from the sea of attendees, many of whom wore red shirts in support of school funding.
“As a taxpayer, I wish I could give you more money, but throwing money at a problem will not solve school issues,” said one of the speakers. “You may ask for more money and more people, but the schools are falling behind the state education requirements so school officials are not doing their job.”
When asked numerous times by Cecil County Council President Jackie Gregory to keep applause to a minimum, the crowd went into an uproar of laughter and applause and continued to do so after each speaker in support of additional funding for the remainder of the meeting.
In addition to funding CCPS, a few speakers spoke in favor of funding first responders in the county – emphasizing staff shortages and a need for new equipment.
“I am here to remind you that the ‘what ifs’ are still there – every single day our paramedics are responding to someone else’s ‘what if’,” said the President of Public Safety Professionals of Cecil County, Colin Shaw. “As a public safety professional, I am asking you to fully support the efforts of our EMS system – we need more medics, EMTs, stations and units.”
The funding of libraries was also brought up during the public comments.
“Libraries serve as educational institutions and community centers with their broad range of services and programs,” said a speaker. “It is clear from the usage numbers that county residents value the libraries greatly – our libraries must be available when most people can use them everyday including evenings and weekends so I urge you to make this asset even more valuable to the people of Cecil County.”
The council is set to adopt the FY24 budget on June 6, 2023. Between now and June 6, amendments can be made to the FY24 budget through deliberations and council votes on proposed budget amendments.
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