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HCPS Board Meeting Highlights

Monday, February 27, 2006

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

The following actions and discussions took place at the Board of Education of Harford County meeting held on Monday, February 27,2006, at the Harford County Public School Administration Building, 102 S. Hickory Avenue, Bel Air.

RECOGNITIONS

The Board officially inducted two new members into the HCPS Educator Hall of Fame, adding Sally J. Greene and Frances R. Francis to the list which includes venerable former school system educators who have contributed at least 20 years of extraordinary service to the local system. Ms. Francis taught elementary students for 22 years in three different Harford Public schools after starting her career in Carroll County and then volunteering and substituting for several years in the Harford schools while her children were young. Having retired in 2002, she continues as a consistent volunteer at Fountain Green Elementary. Mrs. Greene, the youngest of ten children, was raised in a segregated Bel Air, attending the Bel Air Colored School before graduating from Central Consolidated School. After college, she returned to teach second grade at her alma mater for eight years before being transferred in 1964 to Jarrettsville Elementary School as the first black teacher there. Later, she helped open the new North Harford Middle School as a seventh grade language arts teacher, retiring in 1988. She continues at age 75 as a seamstress for a local men's store.

The Board presented certificates of recognition to Budget Director James M. Jewell, Senior Budget Analyst Jeannine M. Ravenscraft, and Budget Analyst Mary L. Edmunds in recognition of the Harford Public School Budget Office having received the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) Distinguished Budget Award for the fourth consecutive year.

GENERAL PUBLIC COMMENTS

Mary Kate Keesling said she has been following the redistricting process since the Board hosted Town Meetings in October. She said no one has been able to explain the "holes" in the redistricting plan which contains "uncontrolled variables." She said there is no reason to shuffle so many students and disagrees with the comments of some that parents are "over reacting" and students are "more adaptable."

Board President R. Robin Rich, noting that it is the Board's normal process not to respond during public comment periods, observed that the Town Meetings were the opening part of a process of strategic planning which will be taken up by the Board at its March 13th work session and in a May 15th half-day retreat during which the answers provided by the public would be reviewed.

OLD BUSINESS

ACTION ITEMS

Acting on the motion of Board Member Thomas L. Fidler, Jr. and the second of Board Member Patrick L. Hess, the Board voted unanimously to affirm items on the Consent Agenda including Affirmation of Monthly Contract Awards; Affirmation of Appeal Hearings; Reappointment of Dr. Edward R. Sieracki to a second term on the Board's Ethics Panel; the Monthly Report on Personnel; Proposed Resolutions on National Music in Our Schools and Youth Art Month and Maryland Women's History Month and International Women's Day; and Minutes of Board Business Meetings on December 12 and 19, 2005; and Budget Work Sessions on January 3 and 14, 2006.

The Board was involved in a discussion of pending legislation before the Maryland General Assembly, taking action on support/opposition concerning several of the bills. The Board was told by Coordinator of Governmental Relations Kathy Carmello that, to that point, 2,638 bills had been filed in either the House or Senate and 230 involved education. Board Vice President Wolkow, a member of the Maryland Association of Boards of Education (MABE) legislative committee, provided information on several bills as did Superintendent Jacqueline C. Haas. Mr. Wolkow moved the board oppose HB887, a bill about public school construction, on the basis of elected officials telling local school systems how to do business. The Board voted unanimously to oppose the legislation. Dr. Haas provided information about SB293, a measure concerning charter schools.

Acting on the motion of Mr. Wolkow and the second of Mr. Fidler, the Board unanimously approved the proposed transfer of $150,000 from completed capital projects to provide funds for the replacement of two chillers at the Old Post Road Elementary School building and to return air conditioning service to the auditorium at Edgewood High School. The action would involve the transfer from four completed capital projects to create an HVAC Major Repairs category. The cost of the two identified projects would be $95,000, leaving $55,000 in the account for future major repairs. The action will require approval from the County Executive and the County Council.

NEW BUSINESS

ACTION ITEMS

Acting on the motion of Mr. Wolkow and the second of Mr. Fidler, the Board unanimously reaffirmed its Boundary Exception Policy and reviewed Administrative Guidelines for evaluating boundary exception/student transfer requests. A provision in the policy requires such Board review of the policy and guidelines annually. Director of Student Services Stephen Lentowski reviewed the process, noting the Board has established a threshold of 95 percent student capacity, a level above which boundary exception requests for students to enter the school would not be approved except under extraordinary circumstances.

PRESENTATIONS

John M. Markowski, the school system's chief financial officer, provided a report to the Board for the quarter ending December 31, 2005. Beginning with the second quarter of the fiscal year through the end of the fiscal year, projections are provided to provide the Board with a view of potential problems in revenues and expenditures.

Board Counsel Patrick P. Spicer presented the Board with a draft of a School Wellness Policy, as mandated by the reauthorization of the Child Nutrition and Women, Infant and Children (WIC) Act of 2004. The statute requires local schools to implement a wellness policy that includes nutritional guidelines for foods available on campus, physical education activities, and to promote student wellness. Mr. Spicer introduced members of the committee formed to propose the Wellness Policy. The policy calls for vending machines to be turned off during the school day and a person be designated to monitor implementation of the policy. Acting on the motion of Mr. Wolkow and the seconds of Mr. Fidler and Mr. Hess, the Board agreed to lay the proposed policy on the table for 60 days in order to solicit public comment with plans to address the issue at its April 24th or May 8th meeting. The policy must be in place by July 1, 2006.

SUPERINTENDENT'S REPORT

Superintendent Haas made a presentation to the Board on information from the recent State Superintendent's meeting. She said the issue of the American Diploma Project and the Maryland Scholars program is one that bears watching. Dr. Haas said the American Diploma project would join 22 other states in adopting the more rigorous high school requirements. The Harford Superintendent said she is co-chair of the Pre-K to 16 Leadership Council which is looking at the cost of college, the number of years a student spends in college, and the number of students entering college. She said issues such as dual enrollment and early access are emerging as top issues. Some students could exit high school with 12 to 15 college credits if some of the reforms are adopted. Dr. Haas said the Harford County Public School System has donated an illustration depicting the old 45 E. Gordon Street and the new 102 S. Hickory Avenue school administration buildings to hang in the local Delegation room in Annapolis.

BOARD COMMENTS

Board Member Lee Merrell said the state's regulations do not allow taking into consideration of houses being built when it comes to enrollment projections, limiting the effectiveness of data available for redistricting. Mr. Hess emphasized that no decisions have been made by the Board on the redistricting issue, contrary to contentions made by several e-mailers to the Board. Student Representative William R. Garrett said it is now "crunch time" in the area of redistricting. He said that many of those who have spoken to the Board are looking at the "little picture" of how it impacts their children while the Board has to look at the "big picture." Mr. Fidler said that business commitments had forced him to miss the two Board Public Hearings on redistricting the previous week and apologized for that conflict. He said he has heard public statements suggesting that 1600 students be moved to Patterson Mill Middle/High School and no other students be moved to balance enrollment. Mr. Wolkow said he would be looking at details involving balancing enrollment proposals. He credited Mrs. Carmello with "doing a heck of a job" in working with the General Assembly. Board President Rich said Board members represent the entire county even though they are appointed from a geographical area matching their residence. She reported on a meeting with the Prospect Mill Elementary School PTA, citing a decision made by a previous Board to support a former Prospect Mill group of parents who urged that no students be moved from the school despite the fact it was overcapacity at the time. She said, eight years later, growing overcapacity issues at the school have moved the current parents to seek relief. Ms. Rich said the proposal by politicians that body mass be used as a way to measure a student's wellness is an "offense" to parents who have the responsibility to raise their children. She said the Board would take up the issue of disposal of the Proctor House (54 E. Gordon Street, Bel Air) issue. She added the 45 E. Gordon Street property question continues to be deferred as the Bel Air Town and historical groups are given as much time as possible to propose ways to preserve the building. She emphasized that the Board of Education does not have a need for the building, but does have a need for the land.

With no further business to come before the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 9:02 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.Sweatt@hcps.org