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HCPS Board Meeting Highlights

Monday, April 24, 2006

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

The following actions and/or discussions took place at the April 24, 2006 meeting of the Board of Education of Harford County, held at the Harford County Public Schools Central Office Building, 102 S. Hickory Avenue, Bel Air, MD.

The meeting was called to order by Board President R. Robin Rich at 6:30 p.m.


Barbara Nueslein, speaking for the school nurses in the Harford County Public Schools, thanked Board members for their support, noting that School Nurses Day, May 11, 2006, was listed on the Consent Agenda for that evening. Nurse Nueslein thanked Ms. Rich and Superintendent Jacqueline C. Haas for their columns which appear monthly in the 'Harford Schools' newspapers, saying the "teaching and wisdom" shared with young female students make the two school leaders "mentors" to those youth. She passed out to the Board bookmarks designed by nurses and printed at Harford Technical High School.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.

Larry English of Rosecroft Court in Forest Hill said he had spent five months sending comments to the Board and those on the Superintendent's Technical Advisory Committee on Balancing Enrollment and had received "very limited response and interaction." He said his goal had been to see necessary balancing enrollment completed while moving the smallest number of students possible. Mr. English pointed out that the $210 million in school capital projects proposed by the County Executive had no identified funding stream. He challenged Board members and others to "run the numbers with me" involving projected enrollments.

Jennifer Handlin, speaking for her Youth's Benefit Elementary School fifth grade daughter Kay-Lee, read information Kay-Lee had written about the school dress code. She said many students wear clothing they know is in violation of the code, but are not corrected by teachers. "If you don't make us follow the rules, we will think we can get away with anything when we're older," Miss Handlin had written. "So, either let the students wear what we want to wear or make the teachers enforce the rules."

Sandy Krause of Churchill Downs in Forest Hill requested that those students who will be eighth graders in 2007-08 identified to move to another middle school in the redistricting be allowed to stay in their current middle school for that final year of their experience at that level. She said Bel Air Middle School will be undergoing a heating/air conditioning replacement at that time and "there is room in Fallston Middle" for the eighth graders to stay there, saving transportation costs and the cost of portable classrooms.

Delores Knopp of White Hall, a bus driver for the Fallston area, asked that the crossing guard which had been removed from Youth's Benefit Elementary School, be returned. She noted there had been accidents in front of the school and she was almost involved in one when a custodian waved her on into the path of an oncoming truck. Ms. Knopp said other bus drivers had urged her to go to the Board and ask they bring back the crossing guard. Ms. Rich told Ms. Knopp that the Board of Education does not fund nor assign the crossing guards. She said that is a function of the Sheriff's Office.


The Board officially inducted former educators Wayne L. Foust and Dorothy Q. Ward into the HCPS Educator Hall of Fame. The two combined for 81 years of service, 45 of those as assistant principals. Mr. Foust helped open two new schools and was appointed to assist five principals who were new to their positions. Mrs. Ward taught elementary school and then served as a teaching assistant principal. She was renowned for her great sense of humor, unflappable personality, and her willingness to help her colleagues, especially those younger teachers who looked to her for guidance.

The Board recognized Bel Air High School Athletic Director/Field Hockey Coach Phyllis M. Hemmes on having been named the Field Hockey Coaches Association of the National Federation of State High School Association's High School Field Hockey Coach of the Year for 2005. Ms. Hemmes, who has taught at Bel Air High for 37 years and been its head varsity field hockey coach for 33 years. Her field hockey teams have won 298 games, lost 129, and tied 23; while winning 14 county championships, 13 regional titles, and one state crown.

The Board recognized the fifth grade Engineering Challenge team from Havre de Grace Elementary School, which won the 2006 Engineering Challenge held at the Baltimore Museum of Industry on March 18th. The group - composed of Morgan Jones, Brandon Donahoo, Dylan Schantz, Rondez Green, Richard Voelker, Glenn Joseph, and Nate Saenz - topped 36 other teams in the Division I competition, creating a miniature of the 1926 'Tilt-a-Whirl' theme park ride. The team was coached by Gifted/Talented teacher Terrie Fraer and community partners Bill Pate and Tony Saenz.

The Board recognized Fallston High School junior Kimberly C. "Kimmie" Meissner, who won the World's Women's Figure Skating Championship in Calgary, Canada on March 25th, after having finished sixth in the Winter Olympics in February. Ms. Meissner was cited for her diligence in maintaining 'A/B' grades while enduring a grueling practice/performance schedule. Ms. Meissner, 16, has become known as the "face of women's figure skating," and has appeared on several national television shows. She has had a street named for her in Bel Air, is the start of a national television commercial involving a sandwich shop, and has had a parade staged in her honor. Kimmie was to have been honored by the Maryland State Department of Education and State Board in Baltimore on April 25th as a 'Maryland Pride' student. She will be featured in regional television public service announcements about her accomplishments while being a successful student in the Maryland Public Schools.

Courtney C. Kalisz, a 15-year-old sophomore at Fallston High School, was honored by the Board for having won a national swimming title in the United States Spring National Swimming meet held in Seattle, Washington, March 29th through April 1st. Ms. Kalisz, an honor student, won the 200 meter butterfly event and finished with a number of other medals in the tournament.



Acting on the motion of Board Vice President Mark M. Wolkow, the Board voted unanimously to approve items on the Consent Agenda including the Monthly Report on Personnel; eight proposed resolutions including, 2006 Merit Scholastic Awards, Teacher Appreciation Week, School Psychology Week, School Nurses Day (May 11), Pupil Personnel Worker Week, National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, Home and Hospital Teachers Appreciation Day, and Salute to School Food & Nutrition Service Personnel Day; and approval of a new Board Policy Manual Format and Organizational Change reflecting a reformatting and reorganization of the policies, providing uniformity, and more cross references to procedures.

Acting on the motion of Mr. Wolkow and the second of Board Member Lee Merrell, the Board voted unanimously to re-approve the Student Dress code as required by the May 2002 adoption of the student dress code, mandating a yearly review of the policy. The proposed re-approval had come to the Board at its March 20, 2006 meeting. Reacting to Board suggestions, School System Director of Student Services Stephen Lentowski presented new administrative guidelines as they apply to baggy pants. While the Board does not approve guidelines, the review of the new procedures satisfied the group's desire for a more concrete definition on the issue of baggy pants.



Acting on the motion of Mr. Merrell and the second of Mr. Hess, the Board unanimously approved the award of a contract for an emergency contact messaging communication (automated phone) system. The contract was awarded to the Saf-T-Net/AlertNow firm of Raleigh, North Carolina. The one year contract (with four yearly renewal options) was awarded for the first year at $85,600 and would cost $80,400 for the duration of the four years. The system will allow the Superintendent or others to record phone messages which will be relayed to parents of students. The messages can be of an emergency nature or to provide information/positive feedback to parents. The system allows for the disaggregation of data to the school/classroom level; or to the entire school system. Director of Public Information Donald Morrison and Director of Technology Andrew Moore, assisted by Hall's Cross Roads Elementary Principal Carol Hepler and Fallston High School Principal Kevin Fleming reviewed proposals from vendors to supply the service. Alert Now submitted the lowest cost proposal while satisfying the requirements of the Request for Proposals. Mr. Morrison said training will be conducted prior to the end of May and it is expected an introductory message will be sent by the Superintendent to parents around Memorial Day.


The Board received a presentation on Possession and Self-Administration of Medication Policy; and Revision to Student Possession, Use, or Transference of Controlled Dangerous Substances, Medicines, and Alcohol Policy. The suggested changes are being precipitated by Section 7-421 of the Education Article of the Maryland Annotated Code which directs that local school systems adopt a written policy authorizing a student to possess and self-administer medications under specified circumstances, particularly as it applies to asthmatics. Ms. Rich said she is "glad the State of Maryland has come forward - this makes good sense to me." The proposed policy will come to the Board at a future meeting for approval.


Mr. Moore and Instructional Technology Coordinator Janey Mayo presented information to the Board on Technology Literacy Standards. Mr. Moore said "technology is not an end in itself, but is an integral part of the teaching and learning process." He added that technology standards provide a framework for implementing guidelines of appropriate technology use in the school learning community. Mrs. Mayo said the Maryland Teacher Technology standards were developed by the Maryland State Department of Education and its Consortium of 14 partners of higher education institutions and primary and secondary school districts to ensure that teachers and school staff use technology proficiently. The Superintendent recommends the Board Adopt the Maryland Teacher Technology Literacy Standards as the Harford County Teacher Technology Literacy Standards; and remain informed of the progress of the Maryland Technology Literacy Standards for Administrators and Students pending action by the State Board of Education.


Dr. Haas reviewed a number of bills passed by the Maryland General Assembly that were awaiting the Governor's signature:

  • Aging Schools Money - the Harford County Public Schools is projected to receive $498,000 in FY07 to be used in making repairs to buildings over a designated age. The HCPS Facilities Management Department has created a list of such projects that will be brought to the Board for its approval.
  • Non-public placement funds has been reduced by $3 million which causes great concern about how it will impact local school systems in placing students with special needs in private facilities.
  • The competitive bidding threshold will be raised from $15,000 to $25,000 which will help cut down on paperwork.
  • Several task force groups have been established - one would study a proposal to increase the age of compulsory attendance to 18 - putting school systems in the "odd position" of dealing with students beyond 16 who have demonstrated they do not desire to continue their formal education at that time.
  • A bill to require automatic defibrillators in local schools to be ready for use at every athletic event figures to put a great strain on local schools which will be required to have as many as 12 of the machines at the ready.
  • Each local school system must have a health services coordinator - Harford already has Nursing Services Coordinator Sue Reiman and so meets the requirement.
  • A pension bill was passed which will increase the maximum amount a school system employee can receive from 37.6 percent to 54 percent - over a 30-year period. The bill increases payouts on a graduated scale while increasing employee contributions. It favors those employees employed recently who continue in employment with the system for 30 years.

Dr. Haas noted she had attended the Judith Resnik luncheon the previous Saturday where 11 "young, bright, motivated, wonderful" young women were honored by the local chapter of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) for their interest and talents in math/science.

The Superintendent told the Board that the school system had been informed its appeal to the Department of Public Works for $6.4 million in connection with the Patterson Mill Middle/High School project had been denied and the system is working with the County to make up for that shortfall. She said the school system will learn later whether a similar denial of an appeal for planning approval for Deerfield Elementary School's modernization project will be approved. Only the Joppatowne Elementary modernization project appeal was granted.

Dr. Haas updated the Board on the school system's participation in the bird flu project. She said the Board's approval to have the system take part in a pilot flu mist project has come to no avail as the company supplying the mist is not able to do so. She said she has met with County Executive David Craig and he will allocate $45,000 in partnership with the County Health Department that would involve a five school pilot. Dr. Haas recommended the Board approve the pilot and Ms. Rich said Board members should talk among themselves to determine their feeling on the issue.


Board Member John Smilko praised members of the school staff for their "due diligence" in selecting AlertNow to be the recommended firm for the automated phone service contract. He said, had a competing company with a long history of success in the field, been recommended in the service contract (that does not require acceptance of the lowest bid), the cost would have been 44 percent higher. "I want to commend everybody involved as being good stewards of the taxpayers money - they worked hard to make the best choice," he said.

Mr. Wolkow said he had attended the National School Boards Association meeting in Chicago along with 10,000 others, noting there were 30 choices every hour and 30 minutes. He mentioned that speaker David McCullough, who has written a book about John Adams, made a particularly inspiring presentation. He said he had attended the Maryland Association of Boards of Education meeting, noting the group had not taken a position on the takeover of Baltimore City Public Schools by the State, reflecting a concern that a similar fate could befall other school systems in the state. Mr. Wolkow said he took part in a recent event involving Merit Scholars and issued his congratulations to them as well as to third through fifth graders at William Paca/Old Post Road who had been recently honored. He also commented on the art work that now adorns the walls in the Board Room.

Ms. Rich commended the bus drivers for their record of safety with the school year now in the fourth quarter. She asked parents to keep in mind their child's behavior on the bus is very important in maintaining this safety record. Ms. Rich said schools in Charles County have changed their starting and ending times because growth had made getting students to and from school by bus on time difficult. She said Harford schools in the near future may have to consider a similar move. She praised the contents of the latest issue of the 'Harford Schools' newspaper as containing "so much good stuff about what's going on in the Harford County Public Schools." Ms. Rich said the Board would be deciding soon where magnet school programs such as the medical science, agri-science, and others would be placed. She congratulated president elect of the Maryland State Teachers Association Clara Floyd and thanked the nurses for coming to the meeting.


With no more business to come before the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 8:26 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