Skip Navigation Links

<< Back to Meeting Highlights Archive

HCPS Board Meeting Highlights

Monday, March 6, 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, March 6, 2006, at the Harford County Public School Administration Building, 102 S. Hickory Avenue, Bel Air.

GENERAL PUBLIC COMMENTS

Molly Nasuta of Bel Air said she opposed the redistricting proposal now being considered by the Board that would move Bel Air High School juniors and seniors to Patterson Mill Middle High School. She added that moving the upper classmen would have a negative effect on the sports and extracurricular activities and the student's ability to achieve scholarships for athletics due to the fact that the school would be separated. Ms. Nasuta recommended that the entire Bel Air student population be moved to Patterson Mill or only the freshman class be transferred. She added that many students in her class are now looking into early graduation due to the proposed redistricting.

Henri Himpler of Bel Air stated that he does not envy the Board in the decision that they are about to make on redistricting. He added that the current proposed plan satisfies very few people. Mr. Himpler recommends moving the entire Bel Air High School student population during the reconstruction. He noted that this has been done successfully in the past with Forest Lakes Elementary. Mr. Himpler added that Harford County roads are currently overcrowded and forcing the teachers and students of Bel Air High to drive on Rt. 924 to Patterson Mill will result in more traffic and more accidents. In addition, Mr. Himpler recommended that postponing the redistricting process until the effects of the BRAC (Base Realignment and Closing) have been seen. Finally, he added that he recommends the Bel Air Middle School HVAC project needs to be done over the summer to avoid difficulties with children and staff in the building.

Carmie Messenger of Jarrettsville recommended that the Jarrettsville Elementary School students, where her children (second and fifth graders) attend, should not be sent to Fallston Middle/ High for their secondary education. She added that the fewest number of children possible should be moved.

Rich Pfinkston of Jarrettsville commented that there a lot of good plans circulating including, the "Turn Back the Clock" plan. He requested that the Board minimize the number of students moved.

Michael Kierzewski or Bel Air commented on the fact that with the redistricting plans that are currently proposed his daughter, who currently attends Bel Air Middle School, will be attending a high school with no juniors or seniors. He added that such a plan should be used only as a last resort.

NEW BUSINESS

ACTION ITEMS

Acting on the motion of Board Member Patrick L. Hess and the second of Board Member Salina M. Williams, the Board voted unanimously to approve items on the Consent Agenda including the Affirmation of Monthly Contract Awards, Minutes of the January 9 Board Work Session and the January 9 Board Business Meeting.

Acting on a motion of Board Member Thomas L. Fidler, Jr. and the second of Mrs. Williams, the Board voted unanimously to approve the Superintendent's recommendation to appoint Mohanjeet S. Kohli to Assistant Superintendent of Planning & Construction. Acting on a motion of Mr. Fidler and the second of Board Vice President Mark M. Wolkow, the Board voted unanimously to approve the Superintendent's recommendation to appoint Harry R. Miller, Jr. to Facilities Planner. Acting on a motion of Mr. Fidler and the second of Mrs. Williams, the Board voted unanimously to approve the Superintendent's recommendation to appoint Matthew L. Payne to Technology Team Leader.

GENERAL PUBLIC COMMENT (before the Legislative Update)

Mr. Pfinkston stated that he was concerned that House Bill (HB) 1656 was not on the list of bills for the Board to consider its position. He added that this bill would allow alcoholic beverage licenses to be approved closer than the approved 1,000 feet from school property. Mr. Pfinkston said that the Harford delegation appeared to be in support of this bill. He was asked to sign a petition to approve the bill. He said he is concerned about this bill because it would remove the 1,000 foot rule to not only in the Forest Lakes community but the entire county as well.

Coordinator for Governmental Relations Kathy Carmello came before the Board in order to request its position on several bills that are currently before the state legislature and to give a legislative update.

Acting on the motion of Mr. Wolkow and the second of Mr. Hess, the Board voted unanimously to defer action on HB 638 Education - Public Schools - Trespass.

Acting on the motion of Mr. Wolkow and the second of Mrs. Williams, the Board voted unanimously to support Senate Bill (SB) 465 Commission to Study Pay- for Performance Models of Teacher Compensation.

Acting on the motion of Mr. Wolkow and the second of Mr. Fidler, the Board voted unanimously to support HB 794 Education - Alternative Teaching Opportunity Program.

Acting on the motion of Mr. Hess and the second of Mrs. Williams and Mr. Wolkow, the Board voted unanimously to support SB 1 Registered Sexual Offenders - Supervision, Notifications, and Penalties.

Acting on the motion of Mr. Hess and the second of Mr. Fidler, the Board voted unanimously to support HB 530 Crimes - Sexual Offense Against a Minor Committed on School Grounds or in a Recreation Area - Penalties.

Acting on the motion of Mr. Wolkow and the second of Mrs. Williams, the Board voted unanimously to support HB 378 Crimes - Restitution- Victims and Payments.

Acting on the motion of Mr. Fidler and the second of Mr. Wolkow, the Board voted to unanimously approve the Legislative Update. Mr. Wolkow added that SB 611 and HB 1495, 1545, 1265, and 1531 are positions that are not supported by the Board of Education of Harford County.

Acting on the motion of Mr. Fidler and the second of Board Member John L. Smilko, the Board voted to unanimously to support HB 642 Enabling Legislation for calculating benefits.

Acting on the motion of Mr. Wolkow and the second of Mr. Fidler and Mrs. Williams, the Board voted unanimously to oppose SB 756 Education Alcohol/Drug Testing - would require school's to perform alcohol and drug testing on the premises.

Acting on the motion of Mr. Wolkow and the second of Mr. Hess, the Board voted unanimously to change their position on HB 887 Construction Plans & Specifications from taking no position to "no position" with a recommendation that a study be done on this topic for further review.

Mrs. Carmello briefed the Board on HB 1626, which is the Harford County Alcholic Beverage w/in Integrated Shopping Centers. She stated that this bill has been assigned to a committee but a hearing date has not yet been scheduled, therefore the Board does not need to take a position at this time.

Acting on a motion by Mr. Fidler and the second of Mrs. Williams and Mr. Hess, the Board voted to unanimously approve the 2007-08 Calendar Committee membership with one additional person to be added from the Harford County Council of PTAs. Director of Public Information Donald R. Morrison informed the Board that the 2007-08 Calendar will be brought before them at the April 3 meeting and will ask to be approved by May 8. He added that the committee will consider as many five-day weeks as possible.

PRESENTATION

A presentation of the Medical Arts/ Sciences Magnet Program was made by Executive Director of Secondary Education David A. Volrath and Harford Technical High School Instructional Facilitator Frank P. Mezzanotte. In addition to the HCPS staff members, the Director of Rehab Services Mary Beth Creighton and Respiratory Therapy Manager Karen Goodison of Upper Chesapeake Health assisted in the presentation. Ms. Creighton assured the Board that the medical industry is the fastest growing profession and the time is right to secure a partnership between the school system and Upper Chesapeake Health in order to provide a comprehensive medical science magnet program. She added that Upper Chesapeake Health is committed to helping to educate future medical professionals with the benefit being they will receive professionals that have been provided with career-focused education. Several colleges, including those located at the HEAT Center, have agreed to articulation with the medical magnet program.

Several meetings among representatives of HCPS and Upper Chesapeake Health have been conducted, resulting in the identification of areas of urgent need within the health care field, including: laboratory technician; nursing; pharmacy; physician assistant; radiology/imaging; rehabilitation; and respiratory therapy. Mr. Fidler added that he has done extensive work with Upper Chesapeake Health and believes this to be a very "worthwhile adventure." Board President Ruth R. Rich commented that the number of Upper Chesapeake Health staff members in attendance at the meeting shows their level of commitment to the magnet program and the students of Harford County.

Following the presentation, the signing of the Approval of Memorandum of Understanding took place releasing an initial $200,000 of the grant to plan the Medical Arts/Sciences Magnet Program.

OLD BUSINESS

ACTION ITEMS

Acting on a motion of Mr. Fidler and second of Mr. Wolkow, the Board voted unanimously to approve the Superintendent's recommendation that the Subject Property (54 East Gordon St., Bel Air, Maryland - parcels 545 and 546 on the Harford County tax map 301) be deemed a surplus and the property thereafter be disposed of in accordance with Section 4-115 of the Education Article of the Maryland Annotated Code. Mr. Wolkow added that this is a wise move for the school system and the property should be recognized for its historical value.

DISCUSSION

The following reflects the discussion of Board members on Redistricting Initiatives for Patterson Mill Middle High School.

Mr. Wolkow began by stating that often the view is that a limited number of people be affected but the community needs to take a look at the bigger picture when recommending new plans. He added that at least one school will not have an 11th and 12th grade when the grandfathering clause takes place. He suggested that if the rationale for moving the Bel Air High students to Patterson Mill Middle High, is construction then one would have to also look at the fact that Bel Air Middle and Edgewood High would also be under construction at the same time. North Harford High School construction has been going on while the students are in the building. He stated that there will be a physical barrier between the school and the new construction at Bel Air High, which is a much better situation. Mr. Wolkow agreed that HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) is needed in every building, however such projects are very extensive and most of the work should be done during the summer months if possible.

Mr. Hess said that at this time the school system is too far along in the process to change plans entirely. He added that it would not be fair to change a group that hasn't been talked about all along and not allow them to process the information and be part of the public hearings.

Mrs. Williams stated that over the weekend she had all the plans out and there were a lot of plans that only looked at their own neighborhood. She then raised the questions regarding parking issues in the neighborhoods surrounding the high schools. Mr. Volrath stated that all of the high school communities have dealt with parking issues and have worked with the local government to get additional parking at nearby churches. He added that parking is always a problem. Mrs. Williams concluded by saying that it will take a long time to get the numbers straight and it will be a tough arrangement. Mrs. Williams said that all of the negative emails hurt the Board Member's feelings. She added that everyone is losing the "spirit" of the fact that a new school is coming to the Harford County community and that everyone needs to remember this as the process moves forward.

Mr. Fidler began by stating that he struggled with how to address this topic. He added that he had recently received emails that were accusatory in nature as to his inability to attend the recent public hearing. The emails were questioning the commitment of the Board. Mr. Fidler said that the Board has put forth a lot of time, energy and effort to this process. He added that majority of the plans that he has seen have the same theme, "don't change mine, look at theirs." To this date he has not received a letter from the County Executive that states that the school system has received the money for the Bel Air High and Edgewood High reconstruction projects. He added that he cannot make a decision on a promise, he would like a schedule before he makes a decision. He stated that "we are dealing with a problem that should have been dealt with years ago," however this decision gives the Board the opportunity to correct the problem for the future. In regards to Prospect Mill being at 130% capacity, he suggested that the Board needs to make a collective decision on this issue. He added that he can respect the lack of desire to leave friends, but moving to a new school would allow the children to meet new people and make new frienships. In regards to moving students to the east side of Interstate 95, he added that he is tired of the "please don't send my kids to Edgewood" comments. He concluded by stating that we need to allow all an equal opportunity.

Mr. Smilko started by saying that he is in agreement with Mr. Fidler's comments. In regards to splitting the Bel Air High school community, he stated that he didn't feel that all the specifics were addressed. He added that he has read at least 20,000 lines of email and when emails start to include non-constructive comments he takes them personally. Mr. Smilko stated that those types of emails do not help the author's argument. Finally, he added that the Board works very hard to do the "right" thing and there are no hidden agendas.

Student Representative to the Board William R. Garrett stated that the he is in a unique position. He added that all the emails that he has received are negative, however all the students that he has been in contact with are receptive to the redistricting plans. Mr. Garrett said that he feels the parents are being "juvenile." He will be speaking with the people who are most affected by this process through their Student Government Association's (SGA) before the Board meeting on March 20th where he will give a report on their thoughts and concerns.

Ms. Rich started with preliminary thoughts that everyone should be grandfathered, including Bel Air High. Ms. Rich's idea is to start Patterson Mill with sixth through tenth grade. She added that she is concerned with that fact that in the western part of the county all of those students are going to Fallston High and not North Harford High. She proposed to the Board that this be altered to have the Jarrettsville group stay in North Harford for their secondary school experience. She requested that the Board ponder this as they are deciding on the best plan.

SUPERINTENDENT'S REPORT

Superintendent of Schools Jacqueline C. Haas reported that there has been some confusion regarding the Prospect Mill overcrowding situation. She added that a petition has been issued to the state in regards to this matter which will delay full-day kindergarten implementation at the school. It will be the only school that will not have full-day kindergarten in the county. Dr. Haas said that she has placed a call to State Superintendent Nancy L. Grasmick, to make her aware of the situation.

Dr. Haas stated that Carroll County recently administered the flu mist vaccine to all of their students and staff free of charge. Harford County Health Officer Andrew Bernstein would like the school system to make a decision on whether they too would like to offer the vaccine to all of its students and staff. Dr. Haas stated that she will bring this to the Board for a vote at a later date.

The Class of 2009 and beyond will have to pass the High School Assessments in order to graduate. Dr. Haas stated the issue with this is that it takes at least ten days to get the results back from the test, which make graduation requirements and summer school enrollment difficult. She added that she would like to find out if there is a way to shorten that timeline.

BOARD COMMENTS

Mrs. Williams thanked Churchville Elementary and Hall's Cross Road Elementary for inviting her to read to the students in honor of Dr. Seuss' birthday. Mr. Fidler congratulated Jen Cook for being voted the next student representative to the Board. He spoke on HB 1626, mentioning that out of 24 counties only three have 1,000 sq. foot requirements. He added that he feels it's a very antiquated code. Mr. Fidler stated that he feels the Board should not stand in the way of economic development. He asked that Dr. Haas confer with Operations to seek a position on the matter. Mr. Wolkow attended the State Board meeting. He mentioned that the State Board of Education does a lot of work at their meetings and the MABE (Maryland Association of Boards of Education) 'Monitor' tells of the work they accomplish. He added that it is the Harford County Board of Education's responsibility to know what goes on at the state meetings. Mr. Wolkow spoke of one topic that came up in the meeting was the Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) is on the upswing. He added that in two to three years, if the law doesn't change, most schools in the country will be viewed as failing. He would like the Board to be proactive in lobbying the Federal representatives rather than waiting for failure. At a Board Work Session next week the Board will begin being proactive by beginning a strategic planning process separate from the No Child Left Behind Act and the state strategic plan.

Ms. Rich then reviewed future meeting dates, mentioning that an action item on the redistricting plan for balancing enrollment and Patterson Mill will take place at the April 3 Board meeting.

With no more business to come before the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 9:41 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