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HCPS Board Meeting Highlights

Monday, November 22, 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 22, 2004 at the Center for Educational Opportunity the following actions and discussions took place.


The November 2004 Harford County Public School Educator Hall of Fame nominees were officially inducted into the Hall of Fame by the Board of Education. Inducted were Donna M. Weber, a 27-year physical education teacher/coach at Havre de Grace High School, and Dolores R. Simmons, 22-year physical education teacher at Edgewood High School and Edgewood Middle School, who also coached championship teams at Edgewood High. Ms. Weber was an advocate for the underprivileged students whose teams were competitive despite Havre de Grace having far fewer students from which to choose. Mrs. Simmons teams won the first championships at Edgewood High School in the 1950's. She introduced many new activities into the physical education program including dance and gymnastics.

Shovels that were used in the ceremonial groundbreaking event for the new Harford County Public Schools central office on October 21, 2004 were presented to former superintendent A. A. Roberty and HCPS staff members who have been active in working to have the new administration building funded and built. The shovel presented to staff members will be displayed in the new administration center, to be located off Courtland Street and Hickory Avenue in Bel Air, when it opens (scheduled for December 2005).

Awards were presented to Naomi Knight and several members of her Harford Technical High School Future Farmers of America Chapter which has been named Maryland's outstanding vocational student organization for 2004. Mrs. Knight is the advisor to the group which is credited with assisting many areas of agriculture in the county.

General Public Comments

A number of teachers spoke to the Board about their concerns with scheduling, workload, pay, and other issues. Addressing the Board were Keith Goodell, President of the Harford County Education Association; Brian Rhinehart, Ken Simmers, and Mark Anticole of C. Milton Wright High School; Maureen Webster of Bakerfield Elementary School; Randy Cerveny of Bel Air High School; Pat Anderson of Churchville Elementary School; B. J. Rafferty of John Archer School; Stu Chapman of Harford Technical High School; and Patricia White of Ring Factory Elementary School. In addition, Kevin Kimmel and Kelly LaValle spoke about the need to renovate and air condition Joppatowne Elementary School.

Old Business

Action Items

Acting on the motion of Vice-President R. Robin Rich and the second of Patrick L. Hess the Board voted unanimously to endorse items on the Consent Agenda including the Monthly Report on Personnel; Appointment of Membership to Board Sponsored Citizen Advisory Committees; Approval of Charges for Board Sponsored Citizen Advisory Committees; Proposed Resolution on Retiring Employees; Minutes of the September 27, 2004 and October 11, 2004 Board Business Meetings.

The Board addressed the issue of student eligibility. Superintendent Jacqueline C. Haas recommended the Board adopt the findings of the Athletic Legislative Committee which would make the eligibility rules more strict allowing students to fail no more than one subject, rather than the current two, to be able to participate in extracurricular activities. County Council Member Richard Slutzky, a former teacher coach, addressed the Board expressing his point of view that eligibility rules do not significantly impact the failure rate in high schools, he called it "a public smoke screen" saying that more strict eligibility rules could disenfranchise a large number of students especially at schools like Aberdeen High. He encouraged the Board to hold the matter over until they had the opportunity to read a communication he had sent to the school system concerning a number of questions he had about the eligibility proposal. Jerry Lacey, a parent and coach, said he is concerned about the effort to make a uniform eligibility policy for all schools since there is not uniformity among students from school to school. Deb Merlock, Harford County Council PTA's vice-president for legislation, said research has shown that more stringent eligibility rules result in a higher dropout rate for students. The proposed eligibility policy assumes that athletics is the reason for student failure she said. She urged the Board to consider an eligibility policy that would include a contract for tutoring students in areas where they are weak. Forest Wiest, Supervisor of High School Physical Education and Athletics, said it is his experience from 25 years as a coach that as long as students know the standards they will measure up. Acting on the motion of Mark M. Wolkow and the second of Ms. Rich the Board voted unanimously to lay the eligibility matter over until the December 20, 2004 Board Meeting.

By unanimous vote the Board approved a motion by Ms. Rich and second of Mr. Hess that it adopt the Board policy section entitled School System Governance with the recommended changes. Also, by a unanimous vote the Board approved the motion of Lee Merrell and the second of Salina Pleasant-Grice that the new video surveillance policy be adopted. By similar unanimous vote the Board approved a motion by Mr. Wolkow and second of Mr. Hess that the new student behavior intervention policy be adopted.

By a 5-1 vote (Mr. Wolkow dissenting) the Board approved the motion of Ms. Pleasant-Grice and the second of Mr. Hess to revise the FY06-11 Capital Improvements Program in the following areas. Seven new relocatable classrooms would be purchased to accommodate the implementation of full day kindergarten at Joppatowne Elementary School (2 units), Hickory Elementary School (3 units), and Bel Air Elementary School (2 units); the deletion of lavatory renovations and window replacements at Bel Air High School; the increase in cost for the North Harford Middle School HVAC renovation; the addition of air conditioning projects at Wm. Paca Intermediate, Deerfield Elementary and Youth's Benefit Primary Schools. In answer to inquiries by President Robert B. Thomas, Jr., Supervisor of Planning and Construction Kathleen Sanner said the imposition of the Patterson Mill Middle/High School project had moved renovations at Joppatowne and Deerfield Elementary Schools back one year each. She said current plans call for a proposal for planning approval for Joppatowne Elementary School be sought in the 2006-07 school year with construction to begin in the summer of 2007. Mr. Wolkow said had the county imposed impact fees 20 years ago all of the renovation projects currently pending would have been completed by now. Mr. Thomas added that a delegate and a council member had appeared before the Board at a recent meeting urging the Board to challenge funding authorities to provide money for the necessary capital projects. Assistant Superintendent for Operations Joseph P. Licata told the Board that the Interagency Committee for School Construction staff had recommended only $2,000,000 of the $7,000,000 necessary for the second year of the North Harford High School modernization project. Mr. Licata said appeals would be filed through the IAC and the Maryland Board of Public Works in an effort to obtain the $5,000,000 shortfall.

New Business

Acting on the motion of Mr. Wolkow and the second of Mr. Merrell the Board unanimously promoted Jeffrey M. Fradel to be Senior Manager of Staff Relations. Prior to the promotion, Mr. Fradel was principal at Bel Air Elementary School. By a similar unanimous vote the Board approved a motion by Ms. Rich and second of Mrs. Pleasant-Grice to promote Eric Cromwell to be Coordinator of Accelerated Learning Programs. Mr. Cromwell had been a teacher at Harford Glen Outdoor Education prior to the promotion.

The Board received information on funding trends in both Title III and Title IV programs. Assistant Supervisor in Finance, Robert Smith, provided information showing that Title III revenue, used to fund education programs for those with limited English proficiency, have increased from $36,358 in 2002-03 to $56,114 for the current year; and a projection of $62,000 in 2005-06. Harve Bennett, Supervisor of Foreign Language, said the number of English language learners had increased from 275 in 2003-04 to 329 in 2004-05. Mr. Smith told the Board that there had been a decrease in Title IV funding, money used for Drug and Alcohol Education from $180,139 in 2002-03 to $160,271 in 2004-05; with an anticipated decline to $147,000 in 2005-06.

Superintendent's Report

In her Superintendent's Report, Mrs. Haas told the Board that the Maryland State Department of Education has discontinued the Certificate of Merit diploma. She recommended the Board consider extending a local CM diploma for the current seniors who have been working toward that designation. Mrs. Haas also provided the Board with information about the recent youth summits on drug and alcohol education. She said the high school summit was held on October 6 and the middle school summit was held the previous week. She also gave them information on a statewide nutrition summit on obesity. Mrs. Haas said the high school reform proposal originally scheduled to be discussed at this Board meeting had been removed to provide the opportunity to review all of the issues. She said that meetings are taking place with high school principals and that she hopes to come to the Board with a consensus in January or February with a likely date for the meeting as February 7. The superintendent told the Board that a total of 1,531 scholarships had been offered to the 2,612 graduates of 2004, an increase of 14% from the previous year. She said over $25,000,000 had been offered to the class of 2004.

Board Comments

Mr. Wolkow said he had attended the recent All-County Chorus and found it to be a delightful event.

Student Representative to the Board Kathryn L. Smith told the Board the Harford County Regional Association of Student Councils had discussed the issue of student eligibility and, while there was a variety of opinions, the consensus was "it's unacceptable to fail." She said the lowering of standards means less is expected of students. The more you challenge us the better we will perform she said.

Mr. Thomas addressed a number of issues. He complimented the Harford County Council of PTA's on its recent legislative forum. He then directed his comments toward the teachers who had spoken to the Board saying that he needed to speak in opposition to the comments of the president of HCEA. He said the Board is not in an adversarial position with HCEA and that he is "at a loss to understand how the faculty feels the Board has not advocated for full funding of the (operating) budget." He said the last two or three years the request for more teachers had been the first or second priority of the Board in its budget request. He said in 1998 there had been $5,000,000 from the school budget and that a move to cut elementary instrumental music had failed by a 4-3 Board vote. "Every year the Board is faced with building a budget from a check book we don't own," Mr. Thomas said. He added that every initiative in the Master Plan had been cut last year due to lack of funding. Mr. Thomas said the Board had met for two hours after the Havre de Grace High School graduation ceremony in an effort to find money for an additional 1% salary increase for teachers in the 2004-05 school year. "I am not passing the buck but we are not the funding authority," Mr. Thomas said.

Acting on the motion of Ms. Rich and the second of Mrs. Pleasant-Grice the Board voted unanimously to adjourn the meeting at 9:10 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