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HCPS Board Meeting Highlights

Monday, October 9, 2006

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

On Monday, October 9, 2006, the Board of Education of Harford County met in open business session in the Board Room of the Harford County Public Schools Administration Building, 102 S. Hickory Avenue, Bel Air. The meeting was called to order by Board President Mark M. Wolkow at 7:00 p.m. Board Members John L. Smilko and Salina M. Williams were not present and were excused. In addition, Student Representative to the Board Jennifer L. Cook was also absent and was excused.

Board Vice President Thomas L. Fidler, Jr. moved the agenda be amended to include Item B1 - Board Resolution on the Homestead Credit Bill. The motion was passed unanimously.

GENERAL PUBLIC COMMENT

Denise Jordan, speaking on the topic of the book Chocolate War, thanked the Board that the public's voice was heard in delaying the delivery of the bullying unit in which the book was to have been read until the spring. She said she would like to be a part of the committee that will review the appropriateness of book's use with freshman students.

John Jones, President of the Harford County Education Association, commenting on the release of the school climate survey by Superintendent Jacqueline C. Haas during her State of the System address two weeks previously, said that "good, open, honest communication cannot be taken lightly." He said the data presented in the State of the System could be misleading. He said the aim of the survey was to promote professional development and communication between teachers and schools.

Larry English spoke about the use of relocatable classrooms by schools. He said the redistricting plan passed by the Board last year to go into effect in the 2007-08 school year will not relieve the overcapacity problem in the schools.

Louis Hejl spoke about the impending change in employee annuity programs. He said, in most cases, moving to one provider does not give enough insurance on analyzed funds.

OLD BUSINESS

CONSENT AGENDA

Acting on the motion of Mr. Fidler and the second of Past President R. Robin Rich, the Board voted unanimously to approve items on the Consent Agenda including Affirmation of Monthly Contract Awards, New Bus Orders for the 2007-08 School year, and Award of School Bus Contracts.

DISCUSSION ITEMS

Chief of Administration Jay F. May and Safety and Security Coordinator Robert A. Benedetto presented the Board with a report on a pilot program being conducted in three schools looking at proximity access controls. Mr. Benedetto said the three schools chosen - Hickory and Prospect Mill elementaries and Bel Air High - said the systems allow access to buildings using "swipe cards." He said the use of the access system can help eliminate false alarms. Mr. May said the school system would like to move ahead with expanding the proximity card system to other schools. Dr. Haas said the issue will come back to the Board during its capital budget consideration.

NEW BUSINESS

Mr. Wolkow said the Board of Education rarely takes a position on a County Council proposal, but the 06-37 Homestead Credit Bill pending before the Council, if passed, would inhibit the school system's ability to adequately plan for infrastructure needs. He said the county has struggled to offer competitive salaries and will be seeking $500 million in capital projects over the next six years. Mr. Wolkow said the passage of the bill would mean an immediate $13 million reduction in the school system's operating budget; and would send a poor message to businesses which may be planning on relocating to the county. Acting on the motion of Mr. Fidler and the second of Ms. Rich, the Board voted unanimously to approve the proposed resolution calling on Council Members to reject the proposed bill.

Director of Transportation Norman Seidel and Mr. May presented the Board with proposed adjustments for the 2007-08 secondary school attendance area bus transportation. Mr. Seidel said it is imperative that the "window" between high school and middle school busing tiers be widened by 15 minutes to make it possible for the buses to complete their high school runs in time to return to complete their middle school runs. The Transportation Director presented information on similar adjustments which have been made by other counties. He noted the increased traffic in the county had increasingly made it more difficult to complete the bus runs. Board Members discussed the possibility of switching high school and elementary school start times. Dr. Haas said the topic will return to the agenda on October 23 for action.

Board Counsel Patrick P. Spicer presented the Board with a proposed policy on the Maryland Public Information Act (MPIA). Mr. Spicer said the Board was being asked to adopt a set of protocols to address the handling of MPIA requests. He said the system currently processes such requests but there does not exist a clear policy for the procedure. Mr. Spicer said the proposed policy would be held over for 30 days to seek public comment prior to the Board being asked to take action on it.

Dr. Haas presented the Board with the school system's Legislative Platform in advance of the 2007 General Assembly. She presented the Board with a set of ongoing positions established by past Boards of Education. Dr. Haas said specific recommendations would be brought to the Board as bills are proposed during the upcoming Legislative Session. The Superintendent said the Charter School Bill has been difficult to implement. She pointed to an impending proposal for mandatory age of school attendance to be increased from 16 to 18 years of age. Dr. Haas said education leaders agree young people need to complete their high school program, but an increase as proposed could create discipline issues with those students who are obliged to stay in school beyond the time of their interest. The Superintendent said the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) era is upon us and, if the county desires to continue being competitive in education and economics, no changes in law should be made to impede the school system's progress. She said, beginning inFY09, the Harford County Public Schools will no longer receive 65 percent of a school construction project's funding from the state - instead that figure would decline to 58 percent. Dr. Haas referred to the requirement put in place last year by the State Legislature for electronic defibrillators in high schools. She called the requirement an "unfunded mandate."

Supervisor of Planning and Construction Kathleen Sanner presented the Board with a summary of the Quarterly Construction Projects.

Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Gerald Scarborough and Accountability Specialist Marian Stewart presented the Board with an update on the 2006 Annual Update to the Bridge to Excellence Master Plan.

SUPERINTENDENT'S REPORT

The Superintendent presented the Board with a report, noting the existing picture on the Harford County Public School website showing a group of Edgewood Middle School students involved in the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) which has helped improve the climate of the school. Dr. Haas asked for a round of applause for the improvement made by the school. The Superintendent reminded those present that the exhibits to be considered by the Board on a Monday are posted on the HCPS website the previous Friday. She told the Board that it had reviewed the facilities use policy the previous August including a discussion about churches using school facilities. She said in November, staff would come to the Board with a discussion on the policy. She said she and others would be visiting with the Harford Community College Board of Trustees and wished the college a happy 50th anniversary (2007). Dr. Haas said HCC is working on a four-year college presence in a planned partnership with Towson University. She said there is an anticipated increase in dual enrollments with more students trying to get college credits before they graduate from high school. She said talk continues about career clusters and magnet programs. She called the community college a "wonderful partner" with the school system.

BOARD COMMENTS

Mr. Fidler said several members of the Board attended the Maryland Association of Boards of Education (MABE) convention the previous week and called it "two-and-a-half- days of solid educational curriculum." He said Harford County is not unique and is taking the lead in many areas. Mr. Fidler said Carroll County is looking at a moratorium on commercial development, noting that "some areas have it worse than we do."

Mr. Wolkow said the MABE Conference was "very valuable," noting that Harford county members are very actively involved in every aspect of the organization's programs. He mentioned that the Board does not plan to make any changes to its boundary exception policy and does not plan to make any new policies beyond its announced intention to "grandfather" juniors and seniors from the impending redistricting. Mr. Wolkow said the school system needs land for a new elementary school. He mentioned the passing of Frank Tull, principal of William Paca/Old Post Road Elementary School, on the second day of school. He said it was a "great loss" for the county and noted that there will be a tribute to Mr. Tull during the upcoming Greater Edgewood Education Foundation gala.

With no further business to come before the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 9:03 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