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HCPS Board Meeting Highlights

Monday, August 8, 2005

Questions regarding these Board Highlights may be directed to Don Morrison, Director of Public Information, 410-588-5203.

At the business meeting on August 8, 2005 at the Center for Educational Opportunity the following actions and discussions took place.

General Public Comments

Ed Hopkins of Bel Air thanked the Board for its action in approving bussing to Bel Air High School for children of 30-40 families who live in the Harford Woods area of Bel Air. He said the action provided a measure of safety for students who could, at one time, have walked to school in a non-congested area.

Old Business

Action Items

Acting on the motion of Board Member Lee Merrell and the second of Board Past President Robert B. Thomas, Jr. the Board voted unanimously to approve items on the Consent Agenda including Affirmation of Monthly Contract Awards, Monthly Report on Personnel, Approval of Systems Furniture Workstations, Minutes of the June 13, 2005 and June 27, 2005 Board Business Meetings.

Discussion

Assistant Superintendent for Operations Joseph P. Licata and Supervisor of Planning and Construction Kathy Sanner discussed the FY07 Capital Improvements Plan. Mr. Thomas told Board members that, while the capital improvement plan reflected a 15-year period the Board is responsible to take action only on the FY07 proposal and other projects listed in the out years could be rearranged at a later time. He also asked the status of County Executive David Craig's proposal to replace the more than 90 portable classrooms now in use. Mrs. Sanner said that as many as 60 of the relocatable buildings would go away as a result of the completion of building programs. She urged the Board to look at portables from the perspective of providing relief for over enrollment and construction projects, expressing the opinion that "portables will always be with us." She added the goal to reduce the number of portables is a good one. Mr. Thomas emphasized that the county executive's commitment to eliminate portable classrooms over the next 16-18 months will have an impact on the capital budget. Superintendent Jacqueline C. Haas told the Board that discussions have been opened with the county executive concerning the portable classroom issue. She added that full-day kindergarten is a factor in the need for relocatable classrooms and it remains to be seen what effect impact fees will have on money available for school construction. Board Member Thomas L. Fidler, Jr. said the public may not understand the logic behind the school capital program. He said we have a "worthless plan" because the school system "does not write the checks." He emphasized that the project costs are current market rates adding that the current $588 million price tag could grow to $1.13 billion by 2020. Mr. Fidler added that the inflation reiterates the need for alternative funding of school capital projects. Mrs. Sanner said there had been a change in the cost of certain projects based on the increase from $190 per square foot to $213 per square foot of construction. Mr. Licata reviewed a report on staff vehicles noting that there were currently 28 automobiles in use by school leadership. The FY07 Capital Improvement Plan is due to be voted on by the Board at its September 12, 2005 meeting.

New Business

Action Items

The Board approved the following appointments/promotions.

Pamela Smith - Pupil Personnel Worker
Robin Walker - Pupil Personnel Worker
Antonnio R. Hockaday - Secondary Assistant Principal (12 month)
K. Stuart Hutchinson - Secondary Assistant Principal (12 month)
Daniel Hanzelik - Secondary Assistant Principal
Toni L. Sawyer - Secondary Assistant Principal
Kathryn E. Post - CLS Coordinator

Acting on the motion of Robert Thomas and the second of Board Member Patrick L. Hess, the Board voted unanimously to approve the designation of fund balance from unspent funds from fiscal year 2005 in the amount of $1,045,000 for a designation of fund balance for the health insurance call. School system Chief Financial Officer John M. Markowski told the Board the school system had joined with the Harford County government, Harford Community College and the Harford County library system on May 25, 2000 to form a consortium for the purchase of health insurance. The consortium is self-insured and each party is responsible for excess claims over premiums or excess premiums over claims. Each year after claims and reserves are tabulated and compared to premiums paid a settlement ("The Call") is completed in November/December for the prior fiscal year. The estimated "Call" for fiscal year 2006 is estimated at the $1,045,000 level. The "Call" is based on maintaining a reserve with the corsortium of 5% of the total premiums to be paid in the fiscal year.

Acting on the motion of Mr. Fidler and the second of Mr. Merrell the Board voted 4-1 (Mr. Hess dissenting) to approve the Superintendent's recommendation for a supplemental appropriation of FY2006 appropriated fund balance in the amount of $387,000 to purchase the VoIP telephone system and a 500 KW generator for emergency backup power and support the request to the county executive and county council for approvals. The systems would be placed in the new school system administration building under construction in Bel Air. The school system is connected to the county's phone system. The county upgraded to a voice over IP (VoIP) system. The system operates over the data network instead of the typical analog telephone lines. In addition, the new administration building needs to have backup power (500 KW generator) to provide emergency power for telephone, computer systems, lighting, fire alarm, and an emergency operations center in the event of power failure or a blackout.

Presentations

In 1998, the Superintendent of Schools and the staff began to work with the Board of Education on a project entitled "Balancing Enrollment." This project included the development of the present policy under that title and the use of multiple options for use of system student capacity to equalize the overcrowding situations in our schools. One of the options was the use of magnet programs. In 1999-2000, the Board of Education directed the Superintendent to explore the development of magnet programs. Executive Director of Secondary Education David A. Volrath presented the Board with a summary of current and perspective magnet programs in Harford County Public Schools. He discussed the success of the Science/Math Academy at Aberdeen High School which opened at the beginning of the 2004-05 school year and called it a model for future magnet programs. In particular, Mr. Volrath mentioned future magnet programs including agricultural sciences at North Harford High School, emergency and homeland security at Joppatowne High School, international studies and international baccalaureate at Edgewood High School, and performing arts at Havre de Grace High School. He listed several other possible magnet programs at other schools. Mr. Volrath said that magnet schools should not be seen strictly as a way of balancing enrollment but rather as a means of providing educational opportunities in specific areas to high school students.

Mr. Licata presented the Board with a view of its balancing enrollment policy passed on October 22, 2001 by the Board. Mr. Licata said that policy would be used as the framework for the upcoming establishment of the Patterson Mill Middle/High School attendance area as well as accompanying redistricting of a number of secondary schools to ease overcrowding at those schools. Mr. Licata said the Patterson Mill Middle/High School is not due to open until the beginning of the 2007-08 school year but because of "complicating factors" involving potential redistricting at many secondary schools it is prudent to begin the process this school year. He cited the requirements of the county's Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (APFO) as one of the complicating factors. He pointed out that the policy requires the reassignment of students to be completed 180 days prior to the implementation of the changes.

Dr. Haas provided the Board with a report including mention of the participation by Harford County Public Schools 2005-06 Teacher of the Year Lori Frendak in the Bel Air Independence Day Parade after which her entry was awarded "most popular with the crowd." Dr. Haas informed the Board that the Maryland State Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Education have agreed on a procedure providing a "greater degree of flexibility" in the area of development of a modified Maryland school assessment test for students receiving special education services. She added the school system had been informed earlier in the day that its appeal on behalf of Magnolia Elementary School(s) having not met adequate yearly progress in the area of special education had been denied. Dr. Haas said future MSA tenth grade math tests will use algebra rather than geometry as the testing basis. She added that the 10th grade HSA results have not yet been received. Dr. Haas thanked Mr. Thomas for his presentation to graduates at the summer school commencement program held the prior week.

Board Comments

Mr. Thomas said he told summer school graduates that closure was important. He said during the upcoming balancing enrollment process it is important to remember all board members have student's best interest at heart. He said "it is not about parents" and that students adapt well. Mr. Thomas also read a note which had been sent to him by 2004-05 Student Representative to the Board Kathryn Smith. In the note, Ms. Smith expressed her thanks to Mr. Thomas in his role of Board president for the help he provided her last school year. Board President R. Robin Rich told the Board there will be town meetings held this fall at four locations. She said the meetings will be an off shoot of the Educational Leadership Conference sponsored by the Harford Business Roundtable last spring. She said the general topic of the meetings would be what the public envisions as the future of the Harford County Public Schools.

The meeting adjourned at 9:25 p.m


This document contains a summary of issues that came before the Board of Education of Harford County and actions taken by the Board at the public business meeting at the meeting date referenced on the document. These are not official Board-approved minutes. Board minutes are not posted on the HCPS web site because of the time lapse that occurs between the meeting, their preparation, and ultimate approval by the Board.
For copies of approved Board minutes, please e-mail Lynn.Hutchinson@hcps.org