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HCPS Board Meeting Highlights

Monday, September 26, 2005

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

At the business meeting on September 26, 2005, at the Center for Educational Opportunity building, the following actions and discussions took place:

Acting on the motion of Board Vice President Mark M. Wolkow and the second of Board Member Patrick L. Hess, the Board voted unanimously to delete Item 4 from the Consent Agenda -- Approval of Consideration of Contract with QuEST for Magnolia Elementary School and Aberdeen Middle School.


The Board inducted into the HCPS Educator Hall of Fame Bonnie L. Dubel and the late Thomas T. Dubel, Sr. The Dubels become the 97th and 98th inductees into the Hall of Fame since its inception in 2000. Mrs. Dubel was a vocal music teacher and guidance counselor for 37 years, 21 of those years in Harford County where she served with distinction at Fallston and C. Milton Wright high schools. Dr. Dubel was a principal in Harford County for 15 years, serving at Havre de Grace, Aberdeen, and C. Milton Wright high schools prior to his untimely death in 1991. He was noted for his innovative and positive approach to school leadership.


Cynthia Poper, of Street, addressed the Board on the issue of North Harford Middle School water. Ms. Poper told the Board she was disappointed in the amount and quality of communication that had come from the school or school system on the issue since it began on August 16th. She asked that a regular process of communicating with parents about facilities issues at the school be established.

Alison Demski, of Pylesville, thanked the Board for the school system's current actions regarding situations at North Harford Middle School. She said, however, there have been issues of a lack of effective communication with the school for some time. She also said the sixth grade section of the school has had problems with its air conditioning and it is not due to be addressed until next summer. She called for a temporary solution in the interim.

Del. Joanne Parrott spoke at the end of the meeting, detailing concerns she had heard from constituents in the northern Harford area concerning the water situation and other conditions at North Harford Middle School. She complained about the lack of communication to elected officials and parents on the issue and questioned whether effective actions were taken in a timely manner.



Acting on the motion of Mr. Wolkow and the second of Board Member Salina M. Williams, the Board voted unanimously to approve items on the Consent Agenda including the Monthly Report on Personnel; Affirmation of Student Appeal Hearing Decisions; and Proposed Resolutions on National Red Ribbon Week, Fire Prevention Week, School Bus Safety Week, and National School Lunch Week.

Acting on the motion of Mr. Hess and the second of Board Past President Robert B. Thomas, Jr., the Board voted unanimously to approve the Comprehensive Maintenance Plan for submittal to the Interagency Committee for the Public School Construction Program (PSCP). Mr. Wolkow thanked the county for fully funding the budget this fiscal year enabling this plan to come to fruition. Mr. Thomas commended Director of Facilities Management Patti Jo Beard and her staff on all the hard work they have put forth to correct the issues at North Harford Middle School.

Acting on the motion of Mrs. Williams and the second of Mr. Hess, the Board voted unanimously to accept the Superintendent's recommendation to approve the Harford County Public Schools 2005 Annual Update to the Bridge to Excellence Master Plan. Gerald E. Scarborough, Asst. Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, stated that the school system will submit the Annual Master Plan Update to the Maryland State Department of Education for review on October 17, 2005.


Superintendent Jacqueline C. Haas presented the Annual State of the System report to the Board of Education, highlighting improvements and challenges during the preceding year and the upcoming year and beyond. The Superintendent centered her remarks on student achievement, highlighting the scores recorded by local students on state and national assessments, as compared to past performance and their counterparts in Maryland and the nation. Dr. Haas also discussed progress made in the areas of facilities, safety, and school climate. She noted that, with the increasing age of school facilities, issues with mechanical systems will continue to plague the school system and increased emphasis will need to be placed on these issues, requiring a commitment of more resources. Dr. Haas also discussed the system's increasing reliance on data as a way to plan actions. She pointed to improvements made in the percentage of Harford County Public School teachers who are classified as "Highly Qualified" under the definition mandated by the Federal 'No Child Left Behind' Act. Dr. Haas highlighted upcoming challenges imposed by the upcoming Base Realignment and Closing (BRAC) movement that could bring approximately 5,000 or more students to Harford County over the next five to six years. Board President R. Robin Rich thanked Dr. Haas for the "time, energy, and effort" that went into the report, noting that those issues with a "budget implication" were the "Board's job." She said she considers Dr. Haas "the number one superintendent in the state with a vision of where we want to be instructionally." Later, during the Board Comments segment of the meeting, Board Member Robert B. Thomas, Jr. echoed Ms. Rich's sentiments, calling the report "the best State of the System report I've heard in my 11 years on the Board."


Student representative to the Board William E. Garrett commented on the general public comments regarding the water situation at North Harford Middle School stating that it is imperative the school remain open. He added that the decision by the Board to delay the opening of North Harford High School does not happen frequently. Mr. Garrett thanked Dr. Haas for an excellent State of the System Report. He referenced the AP standards Dr. Haas reported, stating that he is taking AP courses and exams are not in alignment. Mr. Garrett also mentioned that the increase in the SAT scores is directly related to the Triumph program in his opinion.

Mr. Hess pointed out that it has been a rough week for the school system in regards to the North Harford Middle School water situation. He commended Ms. Beard and her staff for their attention to this matter. Mr. Hess mentioned that the lesson learned is all about communication. He added that it is better to learn the information from the school/school system than the news media.

Mrs. Williams brought to the attention of the Board her displeasure in the lack of respect and the amount of profanity by the student spectators at several high school football sporting events. She alluded to the stabbing that took place in Montgomery County over the weekend and recommended that HCPS create a standard safety and security policy across the county to be put in place regarding evening sporting events. Mrs. Williams commended Aberdeen High School for their security procedures at their Friday night football games. She concluded by stating that the Board should be proactive on this issue in order to avoid a situation similar to the one at Blake High School in Montgomery County.

Mr. Wolkow first congratulated Mrs. Williams on becoming a grandmother again. He echoed Mr. Hess' comments on communication and added that the school system should make better use of technology in conveying messages in a more timely fashion. In regards to redistricting, Mr. Wolkow said, "united we stand, divided we fall." He conveyed his disappointment in a statement made by a citizen during general public comments at the September 12 Board meeting. Mr. Wolkow added that all citizens need to think of Harford County as their community and not just individual school areas. He concluded by stating that building Patterson Mill Middle/ High is a positive event for the Harford County community.

Ms. Rich stated that even though the problems at hand are handled by the staff, the Board is ultimately held responsible. She emphasized the fact that communication is imperative and she expressed her desire that this take place across the county. Ms. Rich mentioned that the North Harford Middle School (NHMS) PTA will be hosting a meeting September 27, 2005 evening at the NHMS. She added that "we all need to keep communicating." Ms. Rich thanked Dr. Haas for an excellent State of the System report and expressed her excitement that the data being compiled is now being utilized to improve academics. Ms. Rich concluded by stating that the Board has a lot of important matters to deal with this year and it has to keep the big picture in mind and cannot be sidetracked by issues that occur. The Board President again reminded those present about the coming four Town Meetings to be sponsored by the Board in late October (consult the HCPS web site for times, dates and sites).

With no further business to come before the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 8:34 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