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HCPS Board Meeting Highlights

Monday, October 10, 2005

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

At the business meeting on October 10, 2005, at the Center for Educational Opportunity building, the following actions and discussions took place:

RECOGNITION

The Board inducted former Aberdeen High School teachers Chester A. and Annabelle J. Thurlow into the Harford County Public School Educator Hall of Fame. Mr. and Mrs. Thurlow, the sixth husband and wife team to be inducted, became the 99th and 100th former HCPS educators to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. The teachers combined for 60 years of service to Aberdeen students and the community. Mr. Thurlow was a social studies teacher while Mrs. Thurlow taught art.

GENERAL PUBLIC COMMENTS

John Jones, president of the Harford County Education Association (HCEA) asked that the Board do what it can to support reform of the Maryland teachers' pension plan which he described as ranking 53 out of the 53 retirement plans available to teachers in the country. He said statistics indicate that fewer teachers are staying in the state system through retirement, in large part because of the poor pension system.

Barbara Nueslein, a nurse in the Harford County Public School System, thanked the Board for its action in raising the pay of substitute nurses. She said the action had made it easier to obtain substitute nurses. She also thanked former County Executive James Harkins and the County Council for approving the budget with the raise for substitute nurses in it.

OLD BUSINESS

ACTION ITEMS

Acting on the motion of Board Past President Robert B. Thomas, Jr. and the second of Board Member Lee Merrell, the Board voted unanimously to approve items on the Consent Agenda including Affirmation of Monthly Contract Awards; Approval of School/Organization Sponsored Project - North Harford Middle School FITT Lab; Transfer of School Bus Contract; Award of Contract for the Instructional Data Management System; Approval of Consideration of Contract with QuEST for Magnolia Elementary School and Aberdeen Middle School; Board of Education Negotiation Teams - 2005-06.

Acting on the motion of Board Member Thomas L. Fidler, Jr. and the second of Board Member Salina M. Williams, the Board unanimously approved the appointment of Susan P. Brown to Intervention Coordinator.

NEW BUSINESS

PRESENTATIONS

Coordinator of Governmental Relations Kathryn M. Carmello and Chief Administrative Officer Jay F. May presented the Board with the Harford County Public School system's Legislative Platform for the 2006 Maryland General Assembly. The platform represents longstanding Board of Education of Harford County legislative priorities. While no specific positions were recommended since no bills have been filed for the upcoming session, Mrs. Carmello said three new stands exist in the platform - opposition to the possibility of adding the University of Maryland System as a chartering authority for potential charter schools; opposition to increased autonomy in granting waivers to charter regulations; and support for a proposed increase in the threshold for purchases by school and other government entities from $15,000 to $25,000 for which the sealed bid process must be used. Mrs. Carmello said the Superintendent would provide information to the Board as bills begin to be filed, recommending Board positions on the various proposals.

Supervisor of Planning and Construction Kathleen M. Sanner presented the Board with a summary of the Monthly Report of Construction Projects. Mrs. Sanner centered her remarks on progress being made in the North Harford High School modernization/addition project. She said improvements have been made in providing sound abatement in areas being used as temporary classrooms at the school. Mrs. Sanner referred to other projects, including the new Patterson Mill Middle/High School now under construction with a summer 2007 projected completion date; improvements at Fallston Middle School expected to be completed by the end of January; and improvements to the health suite at Prospect Mill Elementary School. Mr. Wolkow complimented the staff on the "brightness" at Edgewood Middle School, referring to new lighting that was installed in connection with the new heating/air conditioning/ventilation project at the school, completed recently after a year-long project.

SUPERINTENDENT'S REPORT

Superintendent Jacqueline C. Haas told the Board that the cost of new carpeting paid for by the North Harford High School Band Boosters, installed in a portable classroom being used by the school band, had been reimbursed by the school system. Dr. Haas said a parent meeting for the North Harford High School community to answer questions about the construction project there has been set for Tuesday, October 18, at 7:00 p.m. in the school cafeteria. The Superintendent added that she and members of her staff would meet with school faculty on October 12th to discuss issues related to the construction project. Dr. Haas mentioned benefits being realized through the Professional Learning Communities (PLC's) among teachers and other members of school s taffs. She talked about her attendance the preceding weekend at a Comcast-sponsored concert held at Havre de Grace High School to benefit the County Arts Council. She said several local school performing groups, including the Aberdeen High School Dance Troupe, had taken part and provided excellent performances. Dr. Haas said Aberdeen Middle, Aberdeen High, and North Harford Middle had each received $20,000 grants; and Edgewood Middle had netted a $74,000 grant from the Maryland State Department of Education to be used in helping students at the schools to improve test scores that could get the schools off the State's "Needs Improvement" No Child Left Behind list. Dr. Haas said the Harford County Public School System had collected $52,014.44, mostly contributed by students, to go toward the MSDE "Maryland Kids Care" campaign in connection with Hurricane Katrina relief. The Superintendent said MSDE is conducting a survey to determine how the word is getting out to parents about the need for students beginning with the Class of 2009 to pass the four High School Assessment (HSA) exams in order to get a Maryland diploma. She said visits will be paid to elementary school students and their parents to let them know about the tests those students will eventually have to pass. Dr. Haas said MSDE is developing an alternative Maryland School Assessment (MSA) test for those students who are "chronic academic failures" on the MSA tests. She said the standards for the English II HSA test have yet to be set and she anticipates the scores for those tests, taken by students last spring, may be released in November or December. Dr. Haas concluded by providing an update on progress on the new school system administrative center located off Courtland Street and Hickory Avenue in Bel Air, inviting Board members to take a "hard hat tour" of the building which is due to be ready for occupancy over the Winter Holidays in late December.

BOARD COMMENTS

Mr. Wolkow said the gala planned by the Greater Edgewood Education Foundation is just nine days away and invited the public to take part. He talked about his attendance at the Maryland Association of Boards of Education (MABE) conference two weeks ago and how it benefited him as a Board member, providing useful information. Mrs. Williams said she attended the Maryland Teacher of the Year gala at Martin's West on October 7th and congratulated the 2005-06 winner, Kimberly Oliver of Montgomery County. She said the Board will soon tackle the thorny issue of redistricting in connection with the opening of Patterson Mill Middle/High School and said she had heard "some comments" directed to schools and communities by those in other schools and communities and urged the public to be fair to all by refraining from speaking negatively about those outside their areas. Mr. Thomas thanked the Superintendent and her staff for working on school communication issues. Board President R. Robin Rich said the Board enjoys receiving school newsletters, adding that they are "excellent examples of good communication" from schools to the homes. She complimented Mr. May on his every-other-day updates to North Harford Middle School parents as a positive way of solving the breakdown in communications that occurred during the school's recent drinking water problems. She said the forum should be undertaken with other capital projects. Ms. Rich urged use of school and school system websites, bulletin boards, and other means of communicating information, noting that trust had been lost in the northern Harford area and it "will take some time to get it back." She talked about a wellness program to be implemented in schools in September 2006 and noted the six parameters involved in the project. She said the Board will soon be faced with a decision on what to do with the school system's central office building at 45 E. Gordon Street in Bel Air once that operation has been shifted to the new administration building. She said she feels the building should be razed to make room for additional playground space for Bel Air Elementary School. Ms. Rich mentioned the upcoming Town Meetings. The Board President said the format will be less formal and will be hosted by members of the Harford Business Roundtable for Education along with Board members as an outgrowth of the conference held last May. She said there will be three areas explored in the meetings - visioning about the future of education in the county, magnet schools, and balancing enrollment.

With no further business to come before the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 8:12 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