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HCPS Board Meeting Highlights

Monday, November 8, 2004

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

At the business meeting on November 8, 2004 at the Center for Educational Opportunity the following actions and discussions took place.

Representatives from Harford Community College made a presentation to the Board in conjunction with the semi-annual meeting between the two organizations. HCC President, Claudia Chiesi, Professor Karl Henderson, and Mr. Lee McDaniel presented the Board with information on the transitional math being conducted at Bel Air High School and Edgewood High School. Mr. Henderson said the program began in 2002 and has had a total of 205 students. He said the college has invested $46,000 in the program and that 14 of the students have taken credit courses at Harford Community College.

General Public Comments

A series of teachers spoke about their workload and the prospects of the adoption of a countywide high school schedule which, they said would increase their workload even more. Speaking were Brian Rheinhardt, C. Milton Wright High School English teacher; Lee Ann Franklin, a Family and Consumer Science teacher at C. Milton Wright; Ken Simmers, English teacher at C. Milton Wright; Richard Post, a social studies teacher at C. Milton Wright; Randy Cerveny, computer coordinator, Bel Air High School; Karen Sigwart, math teacher, Harford County Public Schools; John Jones, work experience coordinator at North Harford High School; Gerald Martin, Foundations of Technology teacher at C. Milton Wright; Janice Houston, special education teacher at C. Milton Wright, Rhonda Shaak, teacher at Fallston Middle School who spoke on behalf of HCEA president Keith Goodell; Karen Hamilton, a 28-year teacher in the Harford County Public School system; Amy Gross, a teacher in the Harford County Public Schools; Chris Scholz, Foundations of Technology teacher, Edgewood High School; Alyssa Reeves, English teacher in the Harford County Public Schools.

Board President Robert B. Thomas, Jr. reminded the speakers that there is no proposal for a change in the high school schedule before the Board at this time.

Also speaking was Deb Merlock, HCCPTA Vice-President, who told the Board about activities in Schools of the Edgewood Area. She discussed the volleyball game played by representatives of various schools in the attendance area in which books are collected as admission and distributed to homes in the Edgewood area.

Old Business

Action Items

Acting on the motion of Vice President R. Robin Rich and the second of Board Member Patrick L. Hess the Board voted unanimously to approve items on the Consent Agenda including Affirmation of Monthly Contract Awards; Award of School Bus Contract; and Approval of Dump Truck/Snow Plow Contract.

New Business


Jonathan O'Neal, Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources and members of his department presented information on the 2004 teacher recruitment and retention effort. Supervisor of Human Resources, Matthew Plevyak said the number of teacher applications had increased by 288 from 2,095 in 2003-04 to 2,383 in 2004-05. He said that approximately 50% of the newly hired teachers graduated from non-Maryland colleges and universities. Mr. Plevyak said that Human Resources personnel had visited 72 college/university job fairs and consortiums including 19 at historically black colleges and universities. He said 263 of the new hires were 27 years of age or older and 43% had prior teaching experience. Mr. Plevyak mentioned that the teaching profession continues to be dominated by females with 75% of those hired this year being of that genre. He added that 35% of those hired this year have master's or higher degrees. Mr. Plevyak said Harford's teacher turnover rate of 7.6% is among the lowest in the Baltimore region.

Executive Directors of Elementary and Secondary Education Patricia Skebeck and David Volrath respectively presented information on class sizes for 2004-2005. In the elementary schools class size grades 1-5 increased from 21.3 in 2003-04 to 21.8 in 2004-05 with a range of class sizes from 19.4 at grade 1 to 24.9 at grade 5. The class size in grades 1-5 decreased in 12 schools increased in 18 and remained the same in two schools. A cumulative total of 90% have 25 or fewer students compared to a cumulative 92.2 in 2003-04. The number of classes over 30 remains at 0. The average size of kindergarten classes has increased from 15.5 in 2003-04 to 16.8 in 2004-05. Mrs. Skebeck said the combination of increased enrollments at some schools and no new teaching positions having been added to grades 1-5 are the reasons for the relatively modest increases. Meanwhile, Mr. Volrath explained to the Board that it is much more difficult to provide a comprehensive report on class size in secondary schools because some classes are intentionally kept small while others (physical education, music) are large by design. This year's data indicates a 1/10 of 1% in average class size at the secondary level (from 26.2 in 2003-04 to 26.3 in 2004-05). Staffing has remained constant at 1,136 teachers while there has been an additional 63 students at the secondary level. Mr. Volrath said based on next year's projected enrollment 7.9 teaching positions would be required to maintain the same class size as this year while an additional 68.2 positions would be needed to reduce class size to the Board of Education policy target of 25 students per secondary class.

Robert Smith, Assistant Supervisor in Finance, provided the Board with information on funding trends in Title I and Title II. Mr. Smith said the current year grant award for Harford County Public Schools in Title I is $3,484,082 and the projection for 2005-06 is $3,250,000; reflecting a decline that began after the 2002-03 school year. Mr. Smith said given this trend, fewer Title I dollars had been available for supplies, after school, summer, and other intervention programs. Increasing costs of staff and benefits would exceed the projected FY06 Title I funding. Title I, Improving the Academic Achievement of the Disadvantaged, is intended to help ensure high quality education in support of those students at risk due to poverty. Mr. Smith reported that Title II, federal entitlement programs allocated on the basis of student enrollment, can be used for class size reduction or professional development or both. The Title II program is entitled, Preparing, Training and Recruiting High Quality Teachers and Principals. Mr. Smith said that Title II grants for Harford County Public Schools have remained relatively flat over the last three years, standing at $1,296,082 for the current year. Mr. Smith said, given the increasing cost of staff and benefits, the Harford County Public Schools has increasing designated Title II funds for staff with more dollars each year supporting staff development.

Superintendent's Report

In her report to the Board Mrs. Haas said the Harford County Public School Master Plan was among the 21 out of 24 that was approved by the Maryland State Department of Education. She added that the school recognition awards, given to schools in the past who achieved MSPAP goals, will not involve monetary awards under the Maryland School Assessment (MSA) Program, though some Title I schools will receive funding. Mrs. Haas also discussed the secondary reform summit being planned by the National Governor's Association for February 26-27, 2005 in Washington, DC. She also mentioned the "Your Public Schools" program televised on Channels 21 and 7 at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and 8:30 p.m. on Thursdays which provides positive information about school programs. Mrs. Haas said the Steele Commission is seeking information on best practices being used in the schools. The Superintendent also mentioned the HCCPTA legislative forum to be held on November 18, at Harford Technical High School, from 7-9 p.m.

Board Comments

Board Member Mark M. Wolkow mentioned the irony of the school system's Title I monies being decreased because of the wealth of the county while the Board had to cut $10,000,000 in requests from the operating budget last year. Mr. Thomas thanked the Board, in particular Vice President Rich, for their efforts in his absence due to medical issues. He also told the teachers that "we hear and understand your situation" but we are not a funding authority. The Board simply proposes the budget which is submitted to funding authorities and for the last three years the Board has asked for more teachers, having that as a number one priority in the last two years. He reiterated his statement that the Board has not received a report on high school class schedules at this point but added that somebody is not going to be happy when the Board eventually addresses the issue. He added that as a state government employee he has received no salary increase for the past four years and that the Board has taken steps to ensure teachers receive higher raises than were recommended by the county in several recent years. He pointed out that there are three entities - the county council, the county executive, and the delegation - involved in providing money for employee salaries.

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