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HCPS Board Meeting Highlights

Monday, February 26, 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 Board of Education of Harford County meeting, held on Monday, February 26, 2007, beginning at 6:30 p.m. in the Board Room of the Harford County Public Schools Administration Building, 102 South Hickory Avenue, Bel Air.

RECOGNITION

The Board officially inducted George L. Connolly, Jr. into the Harford County Public School Educator Hall of Fame. Mr. Connolly taught, coached, and was the Athletic Director at his alma mater, Aberdeen High School, for 32 years from 1964 through 1996. Mr. Connolly was coach of the 1978 Aberdeen High School baseball team, led by shortstop/pitcher Calvin Ripken, Jr., that won the state baseball title. He was also named Region Athletic Director of the Year in 1994.

GENERAL PUBLIC COMMENTS

Ann Cambrie told the Board that her son has a processing learning disability and the High School Assessments (HSAs) are inappropriate for him as a prerequisite for high school graduation. She said she feels the HSA is counterproductive for students like her son and urged the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) to remove the graduation requirement from the tests given in Government, Biology, Algebra, and English II.

OLD BUSINESS

CONSENT AGENDA

The Board took unanimous action to approve items on the Consent Agenda including:

  • Monthly Report on Personnel
  • Furniture Acquisition for Patterson Mill Middle/High School
  • School/Organization Sponsored Project, Magnolia Elementary/Magnolia Middle School to Provide Additional Parking, Fields, a Multi-Purpose Court, and Playground Equipment
  • Resolutions on National Music In our Schools and Youth Art Month; and Maryland Women's History Month and International Women's Day
  • Air conditioning contract
  • Minutes of January 3 and January 8 Board Budget Work Sessions; and January 8 Business Meeting

SUPERINTENDENT'S CONTRACT

Acting on the motion of Board Vice President Thomas L. Fidler, Jr. and the second of Board Past President R. Robin Rich and others, the Board voted unanimously to reappoint Jacqueline C. Haas to a third four-year term as Superintendent of the Harford County Public Schools, from July 1, 2007 through June 30, 2011. Dr. Haas was appointed Interim Superintendent in March 1998 and was appointed to full four-year terms beginning in 1999 and 2003 prior to the most recent Board action. Board President Mark M. Wolkow explained, by state law, the Board has been in negotiations with Dr. Haas on the new contract and is required by state law to make a reappointment by March 1st of the June 30 expiration of a returning Superintendent's contract. Ms. Rich said it was her "personal and professional" opinion that Dr. Haas is "one of the finest Superintendents in the state (who has) served the students remarkably well as well as the teachers and senior staff." She pointed to the Superintendent's "integrity and commitment to excellence." Mr. Fidler said "there is no one I would prefer having" as Superintendent. Mr. Wolkow said Dr. Haas "gets results with minimal funding, a skeleton administrative staff -- she knows her business, she knows what's happening, is dedicated to student achievement, and makes decisions even if they are not the popular ones." He added that Dr. Haas is one of the most humble people he knows and is "up front when something is not working right." Mr. Wolkow said Dr. Haas is "the person we all strive to be." Mr. Wolkow and Dr. Haas did a ceremonial contract signing.

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE

Acting on the motion of Board Member Lee Merrell and the second of Ms. Rich, the Board voted unanimously to take action on the following pieces of legislation pending before the Maryland General Assembly:

  • SB 242 -- Education -- Multiple Student Suspensions-- Services and Actions -- Opposed
  • HB 1079 -- Education -- Collective Bargaining -- Public School Labor Relations Board -- Opposed
  • SB 241 -- Education -- Alcohol and Drug Testing for Pupils in Public/Private Schools -- Opposed
  • SB 496 -- Procurement -- Public Schools and Facilities -- Preference for Locally Grown Foods -- Opposed
  • HB 478/HB 562/HB 962 -- Teachers' Retirement System and Teachers' Pension System - - Reemployment of Retirees -- Support
  • SB 669 -- Education -- Public Charter Schools -- Revisions -- Support
  • HB 91/SB 504/SB 633 -- Food Service Facilities -- Artificial Trans Fat Prohibition -- No Position

BUDGET TRANSFER FOR RESTORATION ALTERNATIVE ACADEMY

Acting on the motion of Mr. Fidler and the second of Board Member Salina M. Williams, the Board voted unanimously to approve a transfer of funds to align budgetary appropriations for the Restoration Alternative Academy Public Charter School. The transfer realigns the original budgetary allocations determined on a per pupil basis for RAACS; and transfers $184,501 to specific budgetary line items for direct expenditures to be incurred by RAACS, as well as $68,560 for services to be provided by the Harford County Public Schools.

APPOINTMENT OF 2008-09 CALENDAR COMMITTEE MEMBERS

Acting on the motion of Mr. Fidler and the second of Board Member Patrick L. Hess, the Board unanimously approved a list of volunteers to serve on the 2008-09 HCPS Calendar Committee whose charge it is to present a proposed schedule for that school year to the Superintendent for her recommendation to the Board. The Board provided the committee's facilitator the right to fill two additional positions on the committee with representatives from the religious community and the fifth HCPS bargaining unit -- the Association of Harford County Administrative, Technical, and Supervisory Professionals, expanding the committee membership to 20. In addition, the Board was given the opportunity to provide parameters for the committee's consideration. Ms. Rich said she has been a consistent supporter of having as many five-day weeks in the schedule as possible but realizes that parameter is sometimes in conflict with other needs in the schedule. The Superintendent's recommendation, based on suggestions made by the committee, will come to the Board at its March 26th meeting and action is due on the calendar at the Board's April 23rd session.

REAFFIRMATION OF BOUNDARY EXCEPTION GUIDELINES

Acting on the motion of Ms. Rich and the second of Mr. Merrell, the Board voted unanimously to reaffirm Administrative Guidelines for Evaluating Boundary Exceptions/Student Transfer Requests. Director of Student Services Stephen C. Lentowski provided the Board with a report on boundary exception requests (petitions by parents to have their child (children) attend a school outside the attendance area in which they live) for the last several years, including those which had been approved. The Board's guidelines call for the denial of requests to have students transferred to schools where the capacity/enrollment is at 95 percent or above, except in extraordinary circumstances.

DECISION ON SUPPLEMENTAL APPROPRIATIONS

Acting on the motion of Mr. Fidler, the Board voted unanimously to approve a Supplemental Appropriation of funds from the receipt of $1,000 from the North Bend Elementary School as support for an After School Intervention Math Program; and the Supplemental Appropriation of $1,625 from private donations for the school system's music programs.

SPECIAL EUCATION/NON-PUBLIC PLACEMENT EXPENDITURES TRANSFER OF FUNDS

Acting on the motion of Ms. Rich, the Board voted unanimously to transfer $800,000 from the fixed charges category of the budget to the Special Education -- Non-Public Placements category. For fiscal year 2007, projected total Non-Public Placement expenditures are $9,414,848 with the County's share at $4,349,681. Currently, the Board's approved budget was $3,569.965 in that area. There are 166 students enrolled in non-public school placements.

PRESENTATIONS

BOARD POLICY ON SCHOOL SIZE AND CLASS SIZE

On May 6, 2002, the Board had voted to temporarily rescind the existing policy on School and Class Size. The Superintendent has recommended reinstituting the policy with elementary schools at 500 to 700 students; middle schools from 900 to 1,200; high schools from 1,000 to 1,600; and special schools from 200 to 350. Class size would be pre-kindergarten -- 20 students with two adults per classroom/session; primary (kindergarten through second grade) -- 20 students per classroom; intermediate (grades three to five) -- 25 students per classroom; secondary schools -- 25 students per classroom except in cases where work stations and/or laboratory facilities accommodate fewer or more students. The Board is due to take action on the proposed policy at its March 26th meeting.

CAPACITY CALCULATIONS FOR PUBLIC SCHOOLS

HCPS Assistant Superintendent for Operations Joseph P. Licata and the County's Director of Planning and Zoning C. Pete Gutwald made a presentation to the Board on capacity calculations and their relationship to enrollment and enrollment projections. The presentation was provided to explain how different scenarios are used by the school system, county planners, and others when calculating enrollment/capacity figures as they relate to the County's Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (APFO) and other planning issues.

SUPERINTENDENT'S REPORT

Dr. Haas provided the Board with her Superintendent's Report. She told them about developments in the O'Malley/Brown transition program where the new state administration has five major topical areas with 22 recommendations from the education work group, including the state government's relationship with the Maryland State Department of Education, gubernatorial appointments to local Boards, monitoring of student achievement, and other signature gubernatorial initiatives. The Superintendent said many of Governor O'Malley's initiatives have alignment with the Board's strategic plan now in development. Some have to do with college and workplace readiness. Other topics include a group to talk about the reauthorization of the Federal No Child Left Behind legislation, Special Education, growth models, assessment systems that are accurate and fair, multiple measures, and assistance with the definition of highly qualified teachers. In addition, the O'Malley administration will be looking at the Maryland's Bridge to Excellence funding program, examining the adequacy of county funding to ensure there has been no "supplanting" of local commitment based on enhanced levels of funding through the State's Bridge to Excellence funds. Dr. Haas said the team will be looking at High School Assessments, it will review Federal contributions to education (including Title 1 funding where Harford has lost millions in Federal funds in the last several years), and an examination of gifted and talented programs over five years. She said, on the capital funding side, the administration will seek a minimum of at least $254 million in annual state funding. She said the transition team will be working with the General Assembly on pension benefits in an effort to increase the multiplier of retirement benefits so employees won't feel compelled to go to another state for better benefits. She said the group will be analyzing higher education teacher preparation efforts as well as looking at teacher workloads, using the North Carolina model where teachers are given secretarial support.

BOARD COMMENTS

Mr. Merrell said he had visited Havre de Grace Middle and Elementary schools. Ms. Rich explained the purpose of the Licata/Gutwald presentation, noting there are "two sets of numbers" -- one the State permits school systems to use in planning, and the other used by the County to show potential growth. Ms. Rich warned the Board "will have difficulty" with appeals of boundary exception denials and that its action that night committed the Board to supporting staff in upholding procedures. Mr. Wolkow said the Gutwald/Licata briefing will be on the HCPS website for review. He noted the Baltimore Sun had "vastly incorrect information" on the requested increase in County funding for the school system budget, noting the reporter who did a story on the County's budget situation for FY 2008 had used "old numbers" -- numbers presented to the Board in December showing a request for school operating funds from the County government of $220 million -- or $30 million more than the current year. Mr. Wolkow said that request was trimmed to $210 million or a $20.9 million increase as a result of increased state funding and cuts made by the Board in the Superintendent's recommended operating budget for next school year. He said the article had overstated the Board's local budget request by 50 percent. Mr. Wolkow said that several people had suggested an alternative name for the Harford County Public Schools Administration Building and invited those who had a proposal to submit them to the Board for its consideration. Mr. Wolkow said Mr. Hess and he had attended a legislative luncheon in Annapolis on February 15th and had commented on HB 730, the proposal to have an elected Harford County School Board. He thanked Harford County Education Association President John Jones for his testimony in opposition to an elected Board. Mr. Wolkow mentioned a new web-and-e-mail-based publication, "In the Loop," which is being produced by the HCPS Public Information Office to provide information on Board actions and other important information about the local school system. He said he had attended last Thursday's (February 19th) kickoff of the Maryland State Department of Education's Pride in Maryland Schools campaign, held at Fallston High School, where U.S. and World Women's Figure Skating champion Kimmie Meissner, a Fallston High senior, was among the five honored. Mr. Wolkow gave kudos to the Fallston High staff for "a very great morning." He also pointed to the February 19th Harford County Council of PTAs Founders Day celebration where two local people had been given lifetime PTA memberships. Mr. Wolkow said the Maryland Association of Boards of Education will play an active role in the review of High School Assessments (HSAs). He said a news release on Dr. Haas' signing of a new contract would be posted on the HCPS web page.

ADJOURNMENT

With no further business to come before the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 8:44 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