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HCPS Board Meeting Highlights

Monday, April 3, 2006

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

The following actions or discussions took pace at the Monday, April 3, 2006, Board of Education of Harford County meeting held at the Harford County Public Schools Administration Building.

The meeting was called to order at 7:00 p.m. by Board President R. Robin Rich. Board Vice President Mark M. Wolkow moved the agenda be approved as presented. The motion was seconded by Board Members Patrick L. Hess and Salina M. Williams and passed unanimously by the Board.


Richard Bruno of Aberdeen discussed his belief that Aberdeen High School is overcrowded. He said the school is at 113 percent of capacity with desks and athletic lockers being shared by students. He noted this is before any impact from the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) brings more students to Aberdeen. He said he believes the solution is to use a portion of the former Aberdeen High North Building with its 700 seats, gymnasium, and cafeteria for Aberdeen High students. Mr. Bruno said there will be a public meeting at the Aberdeen Senior Center on April 20th at 7:00 p.m. which will be attended by the Aberdeen Mayor and City Council to discuss the issue.


President of Harford Community College James LaCalle made a presentation to the Board. He said the college had 7,600 students enrolled in 2005 and that the bulge moving through the high schools is impacting the college. Dr. LaCalle noted he had taken over leadership of the college a year ago, but that he has been at the school for 35 years serving in a variety of roles, most recently as associate vice president for continuing education and training. He said he is impressed by the current state of the college which is going wireless in its computer network. He said, years ago, people went to the junior college when they couldn't get in somewhere else, but Harford Community College has become a first choice for many in that it can offer the same quality education that any two or four year college can. Dr. LaCalle said he has launched a "Consider Harford First" marketing campaign. He noted that a full time student taking ten courses can attend in a year for $2,500 in tuition and fees, leading to the perception the education is not as good as more expensive alternatives. But, he pointed out, the cost to students is only about a third of the actual $7,500 cost with the difference being borne by the state and county taxpayers. Dr. LaCalle said 40 percent of the college's revenue comes from county sources, putting HCC at the "higher end" of support from local government among Maryland two-year schools. He said Harford County Public School Superintendent Jacqueline C. Haas and he meet at least quarterly and that articulation agreements are being worked on constantly by members of both institutions. Dr. LaCalle said the Higher Education and Technology (HEAT) Center is right in line with the call for more math and science in connection with the impending influx of BRAC-related people. He noted the college does outreach in the form of four open houses per year, financial aide seminars, and tours. He also noted school representatives go to the middle schools for "Project Dreamwork" in working to help that age student consider the possibilities of college. Dr. LaCalle said the college and the school system's Equity and Cultural Diversity Office combine efforts in the annual Equity Leadership conference. He said he envisions more collaboration between the two institutions, especially in the area of dual enrollments and transfer options. Dr. LaCalle pointed to the history of collaboration that began with the sharing of Joppa Hall as the original vocational-technical center. He said HCC intends bringing more four-year courses to the campus or the HEAT Center in the future, especially from Towson University as the anchor institution. He said he does not see a four-year college institution in Harford in the near future. "It makes more sense to bring other colleges' bachelors and masters degree programs here," he said. "Twenty or 30 years from now, maybe." Dr. LaCalle noted one of the major reasons the HEAT Center was instituted was to bring four-year college offerings to the county. Ms. Rich thanked Dr. LaCalle for the presentation and noted the HCPS students benefit greatly from the presence of Harford Community College. Dr. Haas said, as the Board continues its strategic planning, it is committed to expanding the view of a K-12 education to a pre-K to 14 view; as well as a K-16 concept working with the University of Maryland. She said the Leadership Council on Dual Enrollment is looking at such items as early college access and a desire for students to exit high school with more college credits under their belts.




Acting on the motion of Mr. Hess and the second of Mrs. Williams, the Board voted unanimously to approve items on the Consent Agenda including: Affirmation of Monthly Contract Awards; Approval of Contract, Architectural/Engineering Services, Bel Air High School Replacement; Approval of Phase II - High School Cameras and Visitor Management System; and Approval of Surplus of Carrs Mill Road Property.



Ms. Rich announced a 30-minute limit for public speakers on the topic.

Dale Neeper, the County Executive's Education Liaison, read a letter written by County Executive David Craig which urged the Board to create a sixth through tenth grade attendance area for Patterson Mill Middle/High and that the Board take no further action on additional redistricting until the new Bel Air/Edgewood replacement high schools are finished in 2009.

Sandy Krause of Churchill Downs Court in Forest Hill urged the Board to consider the impact of their votes on each child. She said she believes the Board was about to "choose between two equally bad plans" that would disrupt children from a stable, secure learning environment, moving them to overcrowded schools. Mrs. Krause asked the Board to allow children to stay in their current schools until the construction process is completed. She urged that eighth graders be grandfathered and not be forced to move in the last year of their middle school experience.

Cindy Mumby, representing the Bel Air High PTSA, said her group supports the traditional phasing plan for Bel Air High (leaving eleventh and twelfth graders at Bel Air High, rather than housing them at Patterson Mill Middle/High as proposed in the alternative phasing plan). She said parents understand there will be inconveniences and disruptions with the traditional plan but called it "the lesser of two evils." She noted the County Executive has included no funds in his budget for the new Bel Air High. But, she said the "school is bigger than the building" and that the Bel Air "school community" must be protected.

Robert B. Thomas, Jr., former member and president of the Board, commended the current Board for taking the initiative to correct the overcrowded situations at several schools. He thanked the Superintendent's Technical Advisory Committee (STAC), in particular Joseph Licata, for their dedication to complete the process and complimented President Rich for the patience of the Board and their professionalism throughout the process. Mr. Thomas said none of the four major redistrictings undertaken while he was a member of the Board was nearly as complicated as the one now being accomplished. He said property values and other concerns voiced by parents are not the issue - balancing enrollments at the schools is the issue.


Acting on the motion of Mr. Wolkow and the second of Mr. Hess, the Board voted 6 to 1 (Mrs. Williams dissenting) to approve the STAC proposal of Feb. 21st (with the change of moving Glenwood Garth and Colonial Acres into the Patterson Mill district) in establishing the Patterson Mill Middle/High School attendance area.

Acting on the motion of Board Member John L. Smilko and the second of Board member Lee Merrell, the Board voted 6 to 1 (Board Member Thomas L. Fidler, Jr. and Student Representative to the Board William R. Garrett casting dissenting and preferential dissenting votes, respectively) to approve the "traditional" phasing plan that will have Patterson Mill open with grades six through ten in 2007 - as recommended by STAC in its November 28, 2005 proposal.

Acting on the motion of Mrs. Williams and the second of Mr. Hess, the Board voted unanimously to "grandfather" all eleventh and twelfth graders in having them remain at their current high schools when the redistricting is implemented for the 2007-08 school year.

Acting on the motion of Mr. Merrell and the seconds of Mr. Hess and Mr. Wolkow, the Board voted unanimously to implement the original Phase II 2002 Southampton Middle /C. Milton Wright High redistricting to North Harford Middle/High in 2007-08 (excluding the area which had been added by STAC in its November 28th recommendations).

The Board voted 4 to 3 to defeat the proposed move of students from the Joppa area to Fallston High School. Subsequently, a motion by Mr. Smilko and a second by Mr. Merrell, modifying the recommendation to send only a portion of those students identified from Magnolia Middle/Joppatowne High to Fallston Middle/High, was passed unanimously.

A motion by Mr. Hess, seconded by Mr. Merrell, to accept the STAC recommendation, with modifications, to move students in the Jarrettsville area from North Harford Middle/High to Fallston Middle/High was approved by the Board unanimously.

Acting on the motion of Mr. Fidler and the second of Mr. Wolkow, the Board voted unanimously to move about 50 identified students from Southampton Middle/C. Milton Wright High to Bel Air Middle/High.

Acting on the motion of Mr. Merrell and the second of Mrs. Williams, the Board voted unanimously to move students from Aberdeen Middle/High to Havre de Grace Middle/High as recommended by STAC.

Acting on the motion of Mr. Wolkow and the second of Mr. Hess, the Board voted 5 to 2 (Mr. Smilko and Mr. Merrell casting dissenting votes) to cancel the proposed move of Magnolia Middle/Joppatowne High students to Edgewood Middle/High.

Acting on the motion of Mr. Fidler and the second of Mr. Hess, the Board voted unanimously to approve the movement of students from Fallston Middle/High as recommended by STAC to Bel Air Middle/High.

Acting on the motion of Mr. Fidler, the Board voted unanimously to table consideration of the Superintendent's recommendation that boundary exceptions be processed in strict accordance with current policy and granted only in special circumstances. Mr. Fidler said the Board would discuss in public session at a later time how to address the issue of boundary exceptions for those students being moved.

All of the approved redistricting moves would be implemented prior to the beginning of the 2007-08 school year.

Ms. Rich called the balancing enrollment initiatives "a challenging time for all of us," and urged all involved to "do everything we can to help students see whatever change be dealt with in a positive way."


Acting on the motion of Mr. Fidler and the second of Mrs. Williams, the Board voted unanimously to approve proposed budget amendments following receipt of the County Executive's budget figures on March 28. The County Executive has proposed a budget that would reflect an increase of $14 million in the unrestricted operating budget compared to the current year - a decrease of $7,092,751 in the amount requested by the Board in that budget - or $374,642,143 for FY 2007. Forty amendments to the budget were offered to balance it to the County Executive's recommended funding. In addition, the Board voted unanimously to approve the motion of Mr. Hess and second of Mr. Wolkow to enact amendments totaling $12,982,000 from the proposed capital budget, balancing it with the state and local reductions and bringing the balance of approved capital projects to $56,357,209 for FY 2007. Eight amendments were offered to balance the budget reflecting state and local cuts. For information purposes, the Restricted Funds Budget will total $21,428,732 and the Food Service Budget will total $13,043,975. The local funding portions of the school budgets will now be reviewed by the County Council and will be formally approved by the Board following Council action expected in late May.


Dr. Haas told the Board that, beginning with the upcoming school year, the date a child must turn five in order to be eligible to enter kindergarten will be September 1st, completing a four-year phase in that has seen the date be moved back from December 31st, to November 30th, to October 31st, to September 30th, and now September 1st. Similarly, the date a child must turn four in order to enter pre-kindergarten had been phased back from December 31st to September 1st, a process that was completed for the current school year.

The Superintendent told the Board that a report on bullying in schools is on the Maryland Public School website, reflecting information that includes the most frequent victims are 12 year olds, the motives range from "just being mean (33 percent) to impressing others (21 percent), and that most take place on school property (84 percent) with a lesser amount (13 percent) on buses. She said a report is required by the recently passed bill.



Director of Public Information Donald Morrison and Student Representative to the Board-elect Jennifer Cook presented the proposed 2007-08 calendar to the Board. Mr. Morrison said a 19-person, Board-appointed committee had met on March 8, 2006 and had come to consensus on the proposal which was outlined by Ms. Cook. She said the 2007-08 school year would begin for students in grades kindergarten through 12 on Monday, August 27, 2007; with the 180th day for those students coming on Monday, June 9, 2006. She outlined the traditional holiday schedule, noting that there would be a six-day spring break for students (with the last two days - March 27 and 28, 2008 - scheduled as teacher staff development days, which could be used as inclement weather makeup days, if necessary). Ms. Cook also pointed out the three sets of two-day teacher staff development days on November 1 & 2, 2007, January 17 & 18, 2008, and March 27 & 28, 2008. She noted that there was a total of six inclement weather makeup days identified - June 10 through 13 and March 28 and 27, 2008 (in that order). Mr. Morrison said, in keeping with the Board's tradition, the proposal would be laid over for a month in order to receive public input and would be addressed by the Board at its May 8, 2006 meeting.


Dr. Haas said the Restoration Academy Group's Charter School is due to come back to the Board with its proposal for approval in early May. She said a recent meeting to which 16 parents who had expressed interest were invited reflected just six parents attending with five signing up to enroll should the Charter be approved by the Board. Dr. Haas said the group is "a long way from" the 30 they need to have to be a viable institution and that they have a month to identify the necessary students.

Dr. Haas said she is "very proud" to announce that Harford County Public Schools' music program has been named among the "Best 100 communities for music education" by a national publication. She congratulated Music Supervisor Jim Boord as well as the County government for its commitment to improve the amount and quality of instruments being used by students as well as the funding to continue the outstanding program when other school systems have had to make cuts to the program. She also commended the Board for its continuing support of music in the schools.


Mr. Garrett commended the Board and STAC for its work on the balancing enrollment initiatives. Mr. Smilko said he was "ready to move on to my next form of punishment," reflecting on the trying balancing enrollment/redistricting process. Mr. Merrell said there is "so much that we don't know what will happen," and urged the staff to post the list of new enrollment projections to capacities reflecting the approved Board attendance areas. Mr. Hess said he is "glad it's done" and thanked Mr. Licata and the STAC committee. "It's time now to put our differences aside - it's all about the kids - and adjust," he said. Mrs. Williams thanked Mr. Hess for his leadership working "with the numbers" which "allowed us to get past this moment and start fresh about being excited about the new school." Mr. Fidler said the objective had been to create an attendance area for Patterson Mill Middle/High School and to balance enrollments, correcting mistakes of the past whose linger effect had to be dealt with by this Board. He said the purpose of the process was to enhance the overall education experience for the system as a whole. Mr. Fidler said he and other Board members had been targets of "outrageous comments and threats" by members of the public, but added that "nothing of substance has gone unheard" by the Board, adding that "it takes all of us to educate the future of the youth in this county." He said he looks forward to the opening of the new school and further capital improvements.

Mr. Wolkow congratulate Lance Lotharp, winner of the recent county middle school spelling bee. He thanked President Rich for her leadership and being "the guiding light" during the redistricting process. He added that Mr. Hess had played "an integral part in the process." Mr. Wolkow added that "this has never been about numbers, feeder patterns, or transportation - its been really about the students - we really could have just passed the buck for future Boards, but, I'm proud to be part of a Board where the buck stops here."

Ms. Rich said she appreciated the County Executive giving the Board his thoughts, and thanked Mr. Craig for meeting with members of the Board and Dr. Haas the previous week where he "listened very carefully" to their thoughts. "We happened to disagree," she said, adding that his desire to do away with portables is one that is possible in some secondary schools because of the balancing enrollment in connection with the establishment of a Patterson Mill attendance area to relieve overcrowding in eight secondary schools. She said the combined effect of the redistricting and school projects could be the reduction of the use of portables by 83 percent. She noted that the U.S. Army has selected Aberdeen Proving Ground as a center for technology, and hands on training to keep America safe are part of a magnet school for homeland security now being developed. Ms. Rich complimented Norman Seidel and the school system Transportation Department for its having been honored for a medic alert card system where drivers and bus aides are informed about medical problems students on their bus may have. She also thanked The Aegis for its article on Kevin Lance Lotharp of Edgewood Middle, winner of the recent spelling bee, and Jeremy Stevens, runnerup from North Harford Middle School.


With no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 9:47 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