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HCPS Board Meeting Highlights

Monday, March 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 March 14, 2005 at the Center for Educational Opportunity the following actions and discussions took place.

General Public Comments

Leslie Greenleaf discussed a situation involving the Aberdeen High school softball team selection process.

Mary Kate Keesling who said she had students in Ring Factory Elementary School, Bel Air Middle School, and Bel Air High School said she supported the need for improvements to Bel Air High School. She added that she does not understand the rush to enact a new high school schedule adding that her survey of teachers had shown them not to be in support of the proposed countywide schedule.


Robert Pellicoro presented the Board with the findings of the study on the county economic picture for the upcoming fiscal year. Mr. Pellicoro said the county will have sufficient funds to completely fund the FY 2006 budget without a fund balance. He said that the income tax and property tax revenues will provide the money for the county needs. Mr. Pellicoro mentioned that the Board of Education has been receiving a progressively smaller portion of the county's percent of spending during the past decade. He said if the county had maintained the percentage it provided to the schools in 2002 the school system would have received 10.5 million additional dollars in funding from the county. Board member Thomas L. Fidler, Jr. said the county government has no "measurable means" to display its expenditures. He said the school system has student academic performance as its measure of success. Board Member Mark M. Wolkow reiterated that in 1996 the school system received 56.4 percent of the county's opera ting funds. Last year, the school system received only 47.7 percent of the county's operating funds. Board President Robert B. Thomas, Jr. confirmed with Mr. Pellicoro that the study had been shared with the county executive and asked if the county executive had disputed the numbers in the study. Mr. Pellicoro responded the county executive had not disputed those numbers.

Old Business

Action Items

Acting on the motion of Board Vice President R. Robin Rich and the second of Mr. Mark Wolkow the Board unanimously approved items on the Consent Agenda including the Affirmation of Monthly Contract Awards, Minutes of Previous Meetings January 4, 2005 Board Work Session, January 10, 2005 Board Work Session, and February 7, 2005 Board Work Session.

New Business

Action Items

Acting on the motion of Ms. Rich and the second of Board Member Salina Williams, the Board voted unanimously to approve a proposal to place surveillance cameras in six Harford County public secondary schools - Joppatowne High School, Bel Air High School, Edgewood High School, Edgewood Middle School, Alternative Education, and Aberdeen High School (Upgrade) at a total cost of $485,448.84. The contract was awarded to GTSI Corp. of Chantilly, Virginia. Robert Benedetto, Coordinator of Safety and Security, said he hoped the work to install the cameras would be completed by July 1st. He said each school would have 32 cameras placed in areas agreed upon by the school administration and the safety and security office. He added the cameras were not a substitute for oversight by administrators and teachers in the schools, rather another tool to help provide safety for students and staff. Mr. Benedetto said a portion of the funding for the cameras is being supplied from grants including $42,000 in a federal grant from the Bel Air Police Department, $16,000 in a state grant through the Aberdeen Police Department, and $70,000 in Homeland Security money through the Fire and Emergency Operation offices. He said that Aberdeen High School opened at the beginning of this school year with a camera system but because of advances made since that system was purchased, the upgrade would be necessary. Superintendent Jacqueline C. Haas complimented the "team effort" between the school system and the police/emergency agencies in making the implementation of the camera system possible. She said the Bel Air High School camera system will be fully transportable to the new building when it is completed; and the reason Edgewood Middle School was being included in Phase I of the implementation was because of the ongoing work involving heating/ventilation at that building. Mr. Benedetto said Phase II of the camera installation would include the remaining 11 secondary schools in the county.

Chief of Administration, Jay F. May and Board Counsel Patrick P. Spicer presented the Board with the Superintendent's proposed positions on a series of bills pending before the General Assembly. Acting on the motion of Mr. Mark Wolkow and the seconds of Mr. Thomas Fidler and Mrs. Salina Williams the Board voted unanimously to accept the Superintendent's recommendations.

  • HB - 899 - Geographic Cost of Education Index - Funding - No Position
  • HB 548 - Tax Credit for Employer-Established Paid Work-Based Learning Programs for Students - Support
  • HB 521 - Education - Public Schools - School Health Services Program Coordinator
  • HB 684 -Ethics - Members of School Boards and County Superintendents Education Application of Provisions - Oppose
  • SB 205 - Public Education Bridge to Excellence - Funding - Video Lottery Terminals - No Position
  • HB 1361 - Maryland Education Trust Fund - Video Lottery Terminals - No Position
  • HB 503 - Local School Systems - Requirement to Purchase Calcium-Enriched Food and Beverages
  • HB 148/SB 127 - Budget Reconciliation Act of 2005 - Support the repeal of Prevailing Wage Requirements for School Construction Projects
  • HB 148/SB127 - Budget Reconciliation Act of 2005 - Oppose reductions in Aid to Education for Nonpublic Placements of Students

Acting on the motion of Mr. Fidler and the second of Board Member Lee Merrell the Board voted unanimously to endorse the Superintendent's proposal to change the staff development days originally scheduled for Monday, October 31 and Tuesday, November 1, 2005 to Thursday, November 3 and Friday, November 4, 2005. The Director of Public Information told the Board the change was being requested because of the inadvertent placement of the elementary parent conference day on October 31 - Halloween night.


The Board received a presentation from Executive Director of Elementary Education Patricia Skebeck, Supervisor of Compensatory Education Allyn Watson, Director of Budget James Jewell, and Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Gerald Scarborough concerning changes in the federal Title I and local Title I programs. Mrs. Skebeck told the Board the Harford County Public School system would receive approximately $800,000 less in Title I money next year. She said in order to keep services at their current levels in the schools with a significantly high percentage of students receiving free and reduced price meals, the recommendation was being made to establish the cutoff point for receiving federal Title I money from its current 40% to 45% of a school's enrollment receiving free and reduced price meals. In addition, Mrs. Skebeck explained that at a point in the past when federal Title I money had been decreased the school system opted to continue providing the same level of funds to those schools (using local money) which had been receiving Title I money but would have been cut off because of the decrease. Mrs. Skebeck said that was no longer possible and recommended the program be discontinued. She said that instead of providing local Title I funds, money would be placed into "intervention funds" with those funds being allocated to support student achievement in schools identified as needing assistance.

Assistant Superintendent for Operations Joseph P. Licata and Supervisor of Construction Kathleen Sanner presented the Board with the status of current construction projects in the Harford County Public Schools. In addition Mr. Licata provided an update on the progress of the school system central administration building being constructed in Bel Air. He said the building was on schedule and anticipates the school system central administration moving into the building over the mid-winter holidays 2005-06.

  • Aberdeen High School Replacement School
  • Athletic Track/Football Field - Havre de Grace High School
  • Bel Air High School Modernization
  • Edgewood Middle School - HVAC
  • Edgewood Middle School - Roof Replacement
  • Electrical Upgrade Portions of Technology Wiring Project
  • Improvements to Fallston Middle School, Prospect Mill Elementary School, and Bel Air High School
  • Roye-Williams Elementary School Partial Roof Replacement
  • New Middle/High School at Patterson Mill
  • North Harford Modernization
  • Relocatables-FY06

Director of Technology Andrew Moore presented the Board with a technology update providing information on the status of computers to students demonstrating that the ratio had improved in the Harford County Public Schools to one computer for 5.73 students. He said the state average is 4.9 students per computer and the state mandate is five students per computer. He also provided information on Web Based IEP Program, Ed-Line, Electronic Grade Book, Data Warehouse, SEMS, and Network Accounts.

Superintendent's Report

Mrs. Haas provided an update on the Harford Community College math transition program. She said the college has agreed to continue offering transition math courses at no cost to Harford County Public Schools students in a program that was begun four years ago. She pointed out that Harford Community College has the same requirements for math prerequisites as four year colleges. Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Gerald Scarborough provided an update on the "We are Family" Program. Dr. Scarborough explained the process of adding materials to materials of instruction. He said material must be evaluated by the appropriate instructional leader to see if it is appropriate and aligned with the Harford County Public Schools curriculum. If it is, it then would go to the General Curriculum Committee for approval and would be piloted for a year before being implemented systemwide. Dr. Scarborough said the timeline for the We are Family material will not permit that process to go forward.

Board Comments

Mr. Merrell said he was "struggling" to understand block scheduling. Mr. Fidler noted the passing of an immediate family member of the Board secretary and asked that she be remembered by those present. Mr. Wolkow noted that Mr. Pellicoro had identified $27,000,000 that the school system could have received had a consistent funding level been maintained by the county. He said that would have been money that could have been used in maintaining the facilities at Bel Air High School. He noticed that the Federal government has targeted for deletion the Carl Perkins Technical Education Grant. He said that money had been "very well spent" in Harford County to purchase equipment at Harford Technical High School. Mr. Wolkow also noted the "fantastic" musical program presented recently at Edgewood High School. Ms. Rich thanked North Harford Assistant Principal Ed Herbold for his efforts in minimizing the impact of construction at North Harford High School on students and staff. Mr. Thomas mentioned that the Educational Leadership Conference (Summit) will be held on May 3 at the Center for Educational Opportunity and thanked the Harford Business Roundtable for its role in facilitating the meeting. He called it a "personal mission" of his since 2000 and that it is a beginning not an end. He also congratulated Aberdeen High School and Joppatowne High School boys' basketball teams on having competed in the final four last weekend at College Park. He mentioned that he and six other board presidents had met with Lt. Governor Steele the past Friday to discuss the "Steele Commission." He mentioned the Commission will hold a Public Forum at C. Milton Wright on May 25th, 7-9 p.m, to review the findings of the group. Mr. Thomas said the Board and the County Executive continue to dialogue about alternative funding for school projects. He said county administrator John O'Neill is very interested and involved in the Lever group.

Acting on the motion of Mr. Hess and the second of Mr. Merrell the meeting adjourned 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