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HCPS Board Meeting Highlights

Monday, March 7, 2005

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

At the business meeting on March 7, 2005 (postponed from February 28, 2005) at the Center for Educational Opportunity the following actions and discussions took place.


The Board of Education inducted Jean A. Scarborough and Robert C. Williams into the HCPS Educator Hall of Fame. Mrs. Scarborough taught Core and English at North Harford Jr./Sr. High School for 25 years. Mrs. Scarborough began teaching at age 36 and became a highly respected teacher and sponsor of student activities at North Harford High. Mr. Williams was a principal for 28 of his 35 years as an educator in Harford County Public Schools serving at all three levels - elementary, middle and high. He was also Acting Deputy Superintendent among other duties at the Central Office.

The Board recognized the three Harford County Public Schools' first year teachers declared "Meritorious New Teacher Candidates" by the mid-Atlantic regional teacher's project. The first year program recognizes teachers in the Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. area who have fulfilled rigorous requirements. Recognized were Jessica R. Smith, health physical education teacher at Bel Air Middle School and graduate of C. Milton Wright High School and University of Delaware; Sarah E. Voskuhl, math teacher at North Harford High School and graduate of Bel Air High School and McDaniel College; and Bethany M. Duke who is a first grade teacher at Havre de Grace Elementary School and graduate of Edgewood High School and Salisbury University.

General Public Comments

Cindy Mumby, officer in the Bel Air High School PTSA, urged the Board to keep the modernization of Bel Air High School "at the top of its agenda." She presented the Board with a resolution from the PTSA calling on government officials to find a way to fund the modernization promptly.

Sandy DeVan, President of the Bel Air High School PTSA and mother of three seniors at Bel Air High School, said she represented 700 members of her organization and noted the Executive Board had passed a resolution on the modernization of Bel Air High School. She mentioned studies conducted by an independent engineer pointing to deficiencies in the physical plant at Bel Air High School.

Katie DeVan, senior at Bel Air High School, told the Board that the school is older than most of their parents and that great things are happening at Bel Air High School but many more things could occur with a modernized facility.

Board President Robert B. Thomas, Jr. told the speakers that the Board was cognizant of the problems at Bel Air High School and is in the process of exploring alternative funding for school projects. He said the County Executive is aware of the needs for school capital projects but mentioned the state government has only $100,000,000 to apply to all school capital projects statewide. He mentioned that the Maryland State Board of Education is urging the state to raise its commitment to $250,000,000 per year, but that Harford County "is not alone" in its need for capital projects. He said even if someone provided $50,000,000 today for the Bel Air High project it would take 4-5 years for it to be completed.

Susan Cook, who identified herself as a parent of three Bel Air High School graduates, urged the Board to do further research into the proposed 4-period block schedule for high schools. She called the proposal an "education fad" that could someday be discredited. She urged the Board "not to rush to decision" and to postpone a decision on the new schedule until all facts are in.

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 approve items on the Consent Agenda including the Monthly Report on Personnel; Minutes of the January 18, 2005 Board Work Session; Proposed Resolutions on National Music in Our Schools and Youth Art Month and Maryland Women's History Month, and International Women's Day.

Acting on the motion of Thomas L. Fidler, Jr. and the second of Ms. Rich the Board voted unanimously to approve the Superintendent's recommendations on positions relative to proposed legislation currently before the General Assembly.

  • HB 227 - Education - Arrest for Reportable Offenses - Notification - Support
  • HB 295 - Open Meetings Act - Executive Function Study - Oppose
  • HB 641 - Education - Comprehensive Master Plan Updates - Due Dates - Support
  • HB 946 - Public School Construction - Mandated Funding - Support
  • SB 34 - Workers' Compensation - Students in Unpaid Work-Based Learning Experiences - Waiver - Oppose
  • SB 266 - Quality Teacher Incentive Act - Increasing Participation - Support
  • SB 268 Education - School Based Employees - Stipends - Support
  • SB 334 - Crimes - Fourth Degree Sexual Offense - Support
  • HB 586 - Education - American Sign Language - Foreign Language Credit - Oppose
  • SB 233 - Education - Physical Education Program Standards - Oppose
  • HB 389 - Teachers - Certification - Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Course Credit - Oppose

Acting on the motion of Ms. Rich and the second of Salina M. Williams the Board voted unanimously to support the Superintendent's recommendations on balancing enrollment. The Superintendent's Technical Advisory Committee had recommended

  • Deerfield Elementary School - Two (2) additional relocatable classrooms
  • Fountain Green, Prospect Mill, Hickory, Forest Hill, and Forest Lakes Elementary Schools - Monitor enrollment and subdivision growth, plan and construct new elementary school
  • Southampton and North Harford Middle Schools - Delay Phase II attendance area boundary adjustments until September 2007
  • Aberdeen High School - Maintain current accommodations until a comprehensive review of all secondary attendance areas is conducted in Fall 2005
  • New Patterson Middle/High School - Monitor enrollments and subdivision growth at Aberdeen, Bel Air, C. Milton Wright, Edgewood, and Fallston High Schools; Develop attendance area beginning in Fall 2005; Construction New MS/HS by 2007
  • Full-Day Kindergarten - Add two (2) additional relocatable classrooms each to Bel Air Elementary and Joppatowne Elementary Schools; add three (3) additional relocatable classrooms to Hickory Elementary School.

Acting on the motion of Ms. Williams and the second of Ms. Rich, the Board voted unanimously to reaffirm the Board policy on boundary exceptions as delineated in the administrative guidelines on boundary exceptions.

Superintendent's Report

Superintendent Jacqueline C. Haas provided information from the technical bulletin guidelines supplied by the Department of Education. Among the guidelines was information about high school assessment related to students with disabilities; the certification of teachers in trade areas (their need to take and pass Praxis I); replacing the HSA ninth grade reading test with a 10th grade English test. In addition the guidelines clarify when a school district will be placed in the category of "needs improvement." She said a school system would have to have failed to meet standards in a particular subgroup in all three grade level spans (elementary, middle, and high). She said the Maryland State Department of Education is in negotiations with the US Department of Education on that topic. Mrs. Haas reported that in the future the subgroups FaRMs, special education and English language learners would be reported in only one category, that of special education if a student is receiving special education services and is a member of one or both of the other groups. Mrs. Haas added that the State Department of Educaiton is developing a certification for social workers in schools. She also added that Harford County has been asked to provide a presentation at the annual CEASOM Conference and will present on "Promising Practices on School-Based Learning Communities." The Superintendent, who is President of the Public School Superintendent's Association of Maryland, said her group met with Lt. Gov. Michael Steele recently in connection with his work on the Steele Commission. She said topics of discussion included teacher shortage, teacher preparedness, No Child Left Behind, school community links, students with disabilities, and teacher administrative accountability. Mrs. Haas mentioned that next year's 9th graders (Class of 2009) is the first class which will be required to pass all four high school assessment exams. Mrs. Haas provided an explanation on recent decisions to close or delay schools based on inclement weather. She said she realized her decisions caused an inconvenience to families but that she has to err on the side of caution and would rather be called "an idiot" for making a decision to close or delay rather than putting buses on the road only to have them involved in accidents.

Board Comments

Mark M. Wolkow provided information about the musical to be presented at Edgewood High School the following weekend. Mr. Thomas provided information about the musical to be presented at Joppatowne High School. He also mentioned that both Joppatowne High School and Aberdeen High School boy's basketball teams are in the State Final Four to be contested the following weekend. He said that he and the Board fully support the Superintendent on her decisions on school closings noting that on a recent day when Harford County schools were closed and Howard County schools opened on a delay, a Howard County bus was involved in an accident which resulted in injuries to three students. The Board President provided information on Coordinator of Governmental Relations, Kathryn M. Carmello, who had undergone a medical procedure that day. He mentioned that Mrs. Carmello had done a "great job" for the system. He also mentioned that Mr. Fidler, who had recently undergone his fourth surgery in a year, had made an extraordinary effort to be at the Board meeting that evening. Mr. Thomas said the Board would continue to review the eight-period schedule proposal. He said that the past Wednesday evening he had traveled with representatives from Harford County Public Schools Human Resources Office to Lincoln University on a recruiting trip and praised the HR Department for its efforts in recruiting, especially of minority candidates. Mr. Thomas mentioned that the school system would receive its budget mark from the County Executive between March 28-30, 2005.

Acting on the motion of Ms. Rich and the second of Mr. Wolkow the Board adjourned at 7:45 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