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HCPS Board Meeting Highlights

Monday, February 14, 2005

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

At the business meeting on February 14, 2005 at the Center for Educational Opportunity the following actions and discussions took place.

General Public Comments

Robert Hickey of Bel Air discussed the proposed 8-period day which he said would include 90 minute classes. He expressed his opposition to classes of that length. He added that he felt many teachers were not in favor of the schedule.

John Jones, a 31-year teacher currently the work experience coordinator at North Harford High School, said that whatever schedule is adopted should ensure continuity and fairness to teachers. He reviewed some of the previous schedule changes and the differences those changes had meant for teacher planning time.

Steven Swinnerton, a teacher at Edgewood High School and member of the High School Reform Committee, said he felt potential criticism of the committee consensus was viewed as not being in good faith and "parochial." He said that his vote at the end had been recorded yes with reservations, but was really "more of a no vote" based on his advocacy for a 5.5 out of 8-period teaching schedule.

Keith Goodell, President of the Harford County Education Association, said he had sent the Board a letter emphasizing that HCEA had taken no formal position with the high school reform effort and had been misrepresented as an advisory group. He said the organization's only role was to find teachers to serve on the committee.

Cindy Mumby, Bel Air High School PTSA Legislative Committee Chair and Bel Air Middle School PTA President, said she was concerned about the lack of parental involvement with the high school reform committee. She said the proposal will impact all high school students, but parents had not been provided the opportunity to review the proposal until it was released publicly. She asked that the Board extend the 30 day period that had been put aside for public comment.

Old Business

Action Items

Acting on the motion of Vice President R. Robin Rich and second of Board Member Salina M. Williams, the Board voted 5-0 to approve the items on the Consent Agenda including Affirmation of Monthly Contract Awards; Approval of Contract Award for Paper Towels and Toilet Tissue; Approval of Contract - Purchase of Portable Classrooms in the amount of $577,570; Minutes of Previous Meetings, January 10, 2005 Board Business Meeting, and January 15, 2005 Board Budget Work Session.

New Business

Action Items

Acting on the motion of Board Member Mark M. Wolkow and the second of Vice-President Rich the Board voted 5-0 to approve the contract award to Plaza Ford for two one-ton 4x4 pickups and two one-ton vans. John Miller, Supervisor of Purchasing, said 11 companies had been solicited and four bids were submitted with Plaza Ford's bid being the lowest. He added that the Plaza bid was actually lower than the awards in the past for similar vehicles.

Acting on the motion of Mrs. Williams and the second of Patrick L. Hess the Board voted unanimously to approve the reappointment of Victoria Semanie, CPA, and Blaise Sedney to three-year terms on the audit committee.

Chief of Administration Jay F. May and Legislative Liaison Kathryn M. Carmello presented the Board with a list of positions on bills currently pending before the state legislature. By consensus the Board approved the following recommended positions:

HB 1 - Public School Construction Assistance Act of 2004 - Support

HB 26 - Income Tax - Credit for Classroom Supplies Purchased by Teachers - Support with Amendment to include Library Media Specialists

SB 297/HB 474 - Retirees of a County Board of Education - Health Benefits - none (bill has failed)

SB 50 - Motor Vehicles - Restriction on Use of Wireless Communication Devices While Driving - Support with Amendment

HB 45 - Vehicle Laws - Distracted Driving and Use of Wireless Communication Devices While Driving - Prohibitions - Support with Amendment

SB 59 - Task Force to Study the Maryland Teachers' Pension System and the Teachers' Retirement System - Support

HB 264 - Public Education - County Superintendent - Termination of Contract - The Superintendent recommends that the Board of Education of Harford County determine a position that appropriately recognizes the authority of the local board - Support

HB 560 - Education - State Aid for Public Elementary and Secondary Education - Trigger Provision - Repeal - Support

HB 143 - Education - Public Schools - Use of Asthma Drugs and Related Medication - Oppose

HB 407 - Safe Schools Reporting Act of 2005 - Oppose

HB 503 - Local School Systems - Requirement to Purchase Calcium-Enriched Food and Beverages - Oppose

HB 521 - Public Schools - School Nutrition Program - Oppose

SB 246 - Education - Mathematics Graduation Requirements - Special Education Students - Oppose

Acting on a motion by Mr. Wolkow and the second of Mrs. Rich the Board voted unanimously to approve the members of the 2006-07 HCPS Calendar Committee as recommended by the superintendent and established a parameter for the committee to discuss the possibility of being disbanded. Superintendent Jacqueline C. Haas told the Board that she believes the major issues that have come before the calendar committee have now been settled and there is no longer a need for the 19-member committee. The Board also asked the committee to recommend how the procedures for establishing a calendar should occur in the future.


Supervisor of Mathematics Sarah Morris presented the Board with an overview of the Mathematics Program in the Harford County Public Schools. Mrs. Morris pointed to the PreK-grade 12 variety of methods used in providing mathematics instruction.

Superintendent's Report

Mrs. Haas reported that on February 10 she received information from State Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick that the Maryland State Department of Education would support the presentation of Certificate of Merit diplomas for 2005 seniors only. The CM diploma designation had been discontinued by the state effective for the class of 2005. However, Dr. Grasmick agreed to set aside that decision for the current seniors. Beginning with the class of 2006, there will be no CM designation.

Mrs. Haas also told the Board that she is seeking clarification on a new time table for declaring when a student with an individual education plan (special education) would be notified that he/she would be a candidate for a Maryland diploma or certificate of attendance. Under the new regulations, it appears that decision would not be made until the beginning of the student's senior year.

Mrs. Haas reminded the Board that their policy calls for a review of the boundary exception and dress code policies each year.

Board Comments

Mr. Wolkow commented on the performance of the all-county band complimenting the talent of the student musicians as well as the premiere qualifications of the conductors.

Mrs. Rich said she was surprised by the COMAR changes for special education and considered them "absolutely appalling." She said unless we are able to label students early in their high school career it will prevent their experiencing an appropriate education in high school. Mrs. Haas added that it is a "no-win situation" and that it may force the continual repeating of courses for some students.

Mr. Thomas said the period of public comment for the comprehensive secondary reform program would be extended. He said this is not a new issue and that it had come before the Board in May, 2003. Mr. Thomas also complimented the all-county orchestra performance which he had attended. He said he would meet with Lt. Governor Michael Steele on Feb. 25th to discuss the future of education in Maryland. Mr. Thomas said he had received an invitation to attend and speak at Youth's Benefit Elementary School's Patriot Program. He added that he is concerned that Board members are not routinely invited to attend and speak at these events noting that political officials are many times invited to participate, but it is the Board of Education which establishes policies that directly impact students. Mr. Thomas said he attended the Friday night Joppatowne High School boys basketball game at Aberdeen, played in that school's new facility which he called "top shelf and if not the finest facility in the state then very close to it." Mr. Thomas said it is essential that local boards work in partnership with the Maryland State Department of Education and he is concerned that the partnership has broken down in recent months, citing the certificate of merit announcement in November, 2004. He said Mrs. Haas is president of the Public School Superintendent's Association of Maryland (PSSAM) and that she has been kept in the dark calling that "totally unacceptable." He pointed to the fact that the Maryland General Assembly is currently considering more than 250 bills involving public education. "If there is that much wrong with public education we should stop and start all over again - that's stupid." He added that the federal level No Child Left Behind Act is requiring more of local school systems while providing less money. Mr. Thomas commented on an "Aegis" editorial from Friday, February 11, 2005 concerning the comprehensive secondary reform proposal for an eight period day which he said the paper called "stupid." He said that assertion was "stupid" and that the editorial writers need to understand the issue before writing their editorials. He said it seems they have all the answers but don't know the questions.

Acting on the motion of Mr. Hess and the second of Mrs. Williams the Board voted unanimously to adjourn at 8:48 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