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HCPS Board Meeting Highlights

Monday, February 12, 2007

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 Monday, February 12, 2007 meeting of the Board of Education of Harford County held in the Board Room of the Harford County Public School Administration Building, 102 S. Hickory Avenue, Bel Air, beginning at 7:00 p.m.

OLD BUSINESS

ACTION ITEMS

CONSENT AGENDA

Acting on the motion of Board Vice President Thomas L. Fidler, Jr. and the second of Board Member Salina M. Williams , the Board unanimously approved items on the Consent Agenda, including Affirmation of Monthly Contract Awards; Approval of School/Organizational Sponsored Project at Jarrettsville Elementary School to Expand or Replace Existing Restrooms; Approval of Bid Package No. 2A-Electrical Work for four Relocatable Classrooms at Bel Air High School, and Bid Tab for Bel Air High No. 2-A Electrical Work for four Relocatables; Award of Contract for Fleet Vehicles; Award of Video Surveillance Camera Systems for Harford Technical High School, Aberdeen Middle School, and Magnolia Middle School; Approval of Minutes for November 27, December 4, and December 18 Board Business Meetings.

ACTIONS ON OTHER OLD BUSINESS ITEMS

The Board voted unanimously to approve the proposed Agricultural Magnet Program at North Harford High School. Superintendent Jacqueline C. Haas said there are no positions requested for the program in the FY 2008 budget. She said the Board would see a request in next year's budget for a coordinator to administer the program.

The Board took a series of actions to approve elements of a master plan for the Edgewood High/Middle and Deerfield Elementary School complex, part of a plan to raze and replace Edgewood High and Deerfield Elementary Schools by 2010. Supervisor of Planning and Construction Kathleen Sanner told the Board that she and others from the school system had met with the community following presentation of the campus plan at the previous Board meeting on January 22nd. She said the plan would involve the relocation of the current auditorium to the new high school which will be built on the site of the current Edgewood High football/athletic field. Mrs. Sanner added the neighboring middle school will benefit from the construction by sharing the bus loop with the high school and having a new canopy constructed which would tie into the bus loop. In answer to a question from Board Member Patrick L. Hess, Mrs. Sanner said the high school will follow the prototype of Aberdeen/Bel Air High's, except the building will be in a more rectangular shape with the administrative offices more at the front door of the building and the media center on the second floor atop the administrative offices. She said the project should be ready to go to bid next year at this time, noting that the fact the EHS building is not a direct carbon copy of the two other high schools could add to the expense of the building but use of elements of the plan will save time. In answer to a question from Board Member Lee Merrell, Mrs. Sanner said the presentation to the community went well, with the public's curiosity about the construction process being answered. Dr. Haas said she has met with the Edgewood Community Council and groups of PTA members have met with staff, as efforts have been made to draw on groups that play a key role in the operation of the school. Board Past President R. Robin Rich mentioned that the Department of Parks and Recreation is in the process of buying land adjacent to the school to be used for play fields, but Mrs. Sanner said they would likely not be ready to be used during the construction process. Mrs. Sanner said elements of the building will satisfy aspects of the "Green Building" certification, though it is still not certain whether the building would qualify for LEED certification. Acting on the motion of Mr. Hess and the second of Mr. Fidler, the Board unanimously approved the Edgewood High building plans as proposed. Acting on the motion of Mr. Fidler and second of Mr. Hess, the Board voted unanimously to approve the razing of Deerfield Elementary and the building of a replacement building to the rear of the current structure (Board President Mark M. Wolkow called the decision a wise one rather than attempting to modernize the existing 30-year old building). Acting on the motion of Mr. Fidler, the Board voted unanimously to raze the existing EHS auditorium and replace it inside the new building. Acting on the motion of Mr. Fidler and the second of Mr. Hess, the Board approved the proposed connection of the high school bus loop to the middle school.

Acting on the motion of Mr. Fidler and the second of Ms. Rich, the Board voted 5 to 2 (Mr. Merrell and Mrs. Williams dissenting) to approve a portion of the Facilities Use Procedures which will limit churches, community, and commercial groups to no more than five years use of a school building. Assistant Superintendent of Operations Joseph Licata told the Board that the intent of the procedure is to allow such groups with an "incubator" period but not to encourage a period of time longer than that. A motion to amend the motion by Mr. Merrell to extend the period of time to ten years failed for lack of a second. Mr. Merrell called the move "a major historical change" noting that it his belief churches would not take advantage of the situation, adding that five years is not a sufficient start up time for most churches.

NEW BUSINESS

Coordinator of Governmental Relations Kathryn Carmello presented the Board with a summary of some of the bills now pending before the Maryland General Assembly in Annapolis. The Board, acting on the motion of Mr. Fidler and the second of Mrs. Williams, took positions on the following legislation as recommended by the Superintendent:

  • SB 57 - Teacher National Board of Professional standards retake at no cost to the teacher - support.
  • SB 58 - Offers stipends to speech, language, and others including counselors - support
  • SB 133 - Defines suspension mandating that all suspended students involve in-school suspensions - oppose
  • SB 265/HB 853 - Voucher bill would take tax dollars and give to parents to have their children use the money to attend the school of their choice - oppose
  • SB 116 - Provide special education services to students in home school settings - oppose
  • HB 317 - Sets limits for physical education instruction at 60/90/120/150 minutes - oppose
  • HB 155 - Require pre-kindergarten be offered to every student in every school - oppose
  • SB 260 - Require leave with pay for illness in immediate family - oppose

Board members commented on HB 730 - a bill that would create an elected Board of Education in Harford County.

Mr. Hess called the bill "pure politics," saying that he does not disagree with the proposal on its surface, but said he is "amazed" that no one in the Delegation has consulted with current Board members and Delegation members had not returned his phone calls about the proposal. He said electing Board members by Councilmatic districts as proposed would "pit Board members against one another when "95 percent of our decisions have everything to do with the school system." Mr. Hess said the Delegation's comment that they have received 200 e-mails advocating an elected Board represents a very small percentage of Harford voters. Mr. Hess commented specifically on Delegate Pat McDonough's comments that the Board has "lost touch with the ordinary citizen," pointing out that "he would not know me if he fell over me." He said Mr. McDonough's comment that the Board members are an "embarrassment" is bothersome, adding that, "if anyone has a problem with me they need to come see me."

Mrs. Williams said an elected Board would likely eliminate any diversity on the Board. She noted the membership would become a "political affair," pointing out that each member of the current Board works a full time job and volunteers its service on the Board. "I don't see you getting the right people to do this job," she said.

Mr. Fidler called the bill a "true disappointment," noting he, too, was "astounded" that no Delegation member had "picked up the phone" to talk to current Board members. He said "if there is a perceived problem on the Board" he would like to know what the problem is. "We make decisions that a handful of people are not happy with," he said, adding that it would cost several thousand dollars to run a campaign that results in the Board member expending a great deal of time, effort, energy, and enduring a large amount of stress.

Mr. Wolkow pointed out the vote on the elected Board bill was 5 to 3 in favor among Delegation members with Dels. Richard Impallaria, Mary-Dulany James, and Dan Riley voting against it. He said there is an alternative which would be a form of the Permanent Nominating Caucus which "has fallen into disrepair recently but served the County well for the past 40 years." He said "it was not in law or code - people did it on their own - if we see a bill that puts the caucus-like activity into law requiring the Governor to select from a short list proposed by the group, it would be a compromise solution." Mr. Wolkow said such a bill would enhance what worked well for four decades.

Chief Financial Officer John Markowski provided the financial report for the quarter ending December 31, 2006, noting that the item is on the agenda of the Audit Committee due to meet later in the week. He said the report "looks for trouble spots" and is the first time in which projections can be made with some reliability for the end of the fiscal year. Mr. Markowski said investment accounts are doing better than he could have imagined, having earned 80 percent of what had been projected for the year at the mid-point of the fiscal year. He said there are issues with Charter school funding and with Special Education, noting that the Superintendent would come to the Board in March. He said the growth in private placements of students has created a "fairly substantial hole to fill." Mr. Markowski also reviewed the status of the conversion of all HCPS employees into the Lincoln Financial program for their tax deferred annuities (TDAs). He said Monday through Thursday of the current week is the open enrollment period and that, as of last Friday, 1,300 employees had enrolled with Lincoln. Mr. Markowski also addressed the issue of "not enough accountability" for school funds as has been alleged by some elected officials and some media. He reviewed the list of Federal and State auditors who have been on site beginning last May and continuing through the current time. He noted that each of the audits has resulted in a "clean" opinion with relatively minor recommendations. "I would challenge anyone to show me a company or organization that has been audited or reviewed more than we have," he asserted. In answer to a question from Board President Wolkow, Mr. Markowski said slightly more than 2,000 employees had been enrolled in a TDA for which payroll deduction had been used.

Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Gerald Scarborough, Supervisor of Math Sarah Morris, and Assistant Supervisor for Math Sharon Kachur (elementary schools) presented the Board with a review of the school system's math program. Presentation on Math Program Pre-K - 12

SUPERINTENDENT'S REPORT

Dr. Haas presented the Board with her Superintendent's Report, noting that there is now some controversy originating from the State Department of Education on whether the Class of 2009 will have to pass the four High School Assessments (HSAs) - Government, English II, Algebra, Biology -- in order to graduate with a Maryland diploma. She said it had been clear until recently that it was the case but recent pronouncements from MSDE officials have called that understanding into question. Dr. Haas said HCPS instructional officials will continue to monitor the situation to get a definitive answer on the issue.

BOARD COMMENTS

Ms. Rich said she has noted a "backing off" on the part of U.S. Department of Education Secretary Margaret Spellings on the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) requirements. She said she is "not surprised" at the prospective change which appears to be on its way from the Federal government. She said Mrs. Spellings has challenged schools to each advanced placement classes in high school and, as representative to the HCPS Gifted/Talented Education program, "that is a small group of very charged up people ready to go."

Mr. Fidler said, as representative to the Career and Technology Board committee, he is aware that group is doing an "incredible job" of providing the school system with a picture of what is happening in the area of business and industry.

Mr. Wolkow said he had recently attended a meeting of the Edgewood Elementary School PTA as well as All County Choir/Band performances and noted HCPS students continue to"perform well." He said he had taken part in the Federal Relations Network Conference where 1,000 people met and talked about issues involving education, including the reauthorization of NCLB. The Board President said funding is missing in Secretary Spellings "Pledge to American's Schools." He noted a new publication being provided by the Harford County Public Schools - 'In the Loop' - which provides information on Board actions and other important issues surrounding the local public schools. He said it is now available on line and will be updated periodically. Mr. Wolkow noted it would also be sent to key stakeholders via e-mail. Also, he said the Board and school leaders have received numerous proposals on the renaming of the HCPS Administration Building. He said the item has not been on a Board agenda and could not guarantee that it would be. However, he invited all those who have an opinion to express their views and the Board would take suggestions under advisement. "Whatever the Board decides is what we will go with," he said.

With no more business to come before the Board, Mr. Wolkow declared the meeting adjourned at 10:05 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