by Lisa Tome
The school system's fiscal year 2014 general fund budget is $178 million with the State of Maryland chipping in the greatest amount - $96 million.
The federal government also pays a share and funding comes from other sources.
The local towns also chip in to help.
Recently, Rising Sun town officials gave Rising Sun High School $5,000 which will used to buy 15 football helmets and some laptop computers.
Last year, the Town began providing Rising Sun Middle School with a DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) police officer. Next year, they plan to donate to Rising Sun Elementary.
This isn't unusual. In fact, every incorporated municipality in the county pitches in to support schools both financially and in other ways.
Years ago, Charlestown Commissioner Joe Letts used to dress up as Smokey the Bear for the children at Charlestown Elementary. Now, the town sponsors an annual Spring Fling and Health Expo at the school.
Charlestown also buys an annual $500 yearbook ad at Perryville High. The town donates $1,000 to the Riverfest Scholarship. Every fourth grader at Charlestown Elementary gets a free t-shirt from the town during the "If I Were Mayor" contest. The Town has also donated to the Perryville High Destination Imagination team for the past two years.
Denise Breder, town administrator in Perryville, said that town also helps the schools. The town has donated to the Perryville High Destination Imagination team. The town also donates to schools when they participate in town events such as the Christmas Tree lighting. In years past, they also chipped in for Perryville Elementary's walk-a-thon. Until recently, the Town provided a police officer for DARE in the schools. Perryville no longer has a DARE officer. Mayor James Eberhardt and other staffer and board members participate in career days at schools. The mayor also presents the "If I Were Mayor" contest at schools. The town and Perryville Police Department also partner with the Outreach Program in the schools. In April, the town work session was held at Perryville High. The plan was to welcome students in Government classes to the meetings. The town also recognizes academic and athletic success at town meetings.
Chesapeake City just wrapped up a major project which provided the basics - water and sewer at Bo Manor High and Middle Schools. "We are very aggressive with providing help to the schools. It's not mandated but we support them in any way we can," said Mayor Dean Geracimos. Another project is on tap. Chesapeake City obtained a pair of grants which will connect the schools to the town. Sidewalks will run along Route 213 and Basil Avenue. This project will include a 10-foot wide walking/biking/hiking trail and will begin in fall of this year. The trail will connect all the schools to the library and the downtown.
"It's very important for towns to connect to the schools. We need to produce an environment that makes kids want to return here after they are done with college or school," said Geracimos. "We want them to reside here. Upgrading their experience is of the utmost importance."
The Town of Elkton provides both a DARE officer and a school resource officer in the Elkton schools. Each year the Town of Elkton also presents a $500 to an Elkton High graduate.
Port Deposit Mayor Wayne Tome, Sr. said that town takes the "it takes a village to raise a child" stand when it comes to helping schools. "Education is part of the future. It takes every component; the town, and the faith-based and community organizations for this partnership," said Tome. Port Deposit participates in the "If I Were Mayor" contest each year. The town also donates school supplies to children in need each year.
The Town of Cecilton hosts fifth graders at town hall monthly during the school year. The students learn basics about government and also learn American flag etiquette. Last year, Mayor Joe Zang spoke at a school event. Cecilton also donates $100 annually to the Bo Manor High School After Prom.
Students interact regularly with town officials from North East. Police officers provide daily traffic enforcement at schools. The Town also provides a DARE officer. Members of the middle and high schools bands participate in the Christmas parade, tree lighting, and Flag Day. Town officials turn out at schools for career and Dr. Seuss Day. The town has also funded band uniforms in the past.