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HCPS Board Meeting Highlights

Monday, May 8, 2006

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

The Board of Education of Harford County met in an open business meeting in the Board Room of the Harford County Public Schools Administration Building on Monday, May 8, 2006. Board President R. Robin Rich gaveled the meeting into session at 7:02 p.m. Board Vice President Mark M. Wolkow and Board Member Salina M. Williams were not present and were excused. The following actions or discussion took place at the meeting.

Acting on the motion of Board Member Thomas L. Fidler, Jr. and the seconds of Board Members Patrick L. Hess and Lee Merrell, the proposed agenda was accepted as printed.


Emily Krause, an eighth grader at Fallston Middle School, expressed her opposition to a plan that would have Harford County Public high schools start 15 minutes earlier than they now do to provide for sufficient time to provide busing services for all students. She said she has been accepted to attend the Science/Math Academy at Aberdeen High School next year and will already be picked up at 6:30 in the morning. She suggested it may be better to switch high schools and elementary schools schedules to have elementary school start first in the morning and high schools last since elementary school children "go to bed earlier."




Acting on the motion of Mr. Hess and the second of Mr. Fidler, the Board unanimously approved items on the Consent Agenda including: Affirmation of Monthly Contract Awards; Minutes of the March 6, 2006 Board Business Meeting; Award of School Bus Contract; Transfer of School Bus Contract; Approval of Contract, Construction Management Services, Bel Air High School Replacement; Award of Contract, Dublin Elementary School Roof Replacement; Award of Contract, and C. Milton Wright High School Roof Replacement.


Acting on the motion of Mr. Fidler and the second of Mr. Hess, the Board of Education of Harford County ratified the Negotiated Agreement with the Harford County Educational Services Council (HCESC). Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources Jonathan O'Neal said the contract had been negotiated in good faith and that the tentative agreement had been reached between the Board's negotiating team and the HCESC negotiation team on a three-year agreement with limited openers over the next two years only in the area of salary; and that the Superintendent has recommended ratification of the contract. Ms. Rich said it was a "wonderful contract" and commented on how smoothly the contract negotiations had gone, noting that "all are well pleased" with the results. Representatives from HCESC and Ms. Rich and Superintendent Jacqueline C. Haas signed the agreement.


Director of Public Information Donald Morrison reported to the Board that the proposed 2007-08 school calendar, formulated by a 19-member Board-appointed committee which met on March 8th, had been presented to the Board on April 3rd for its review with a recommendation to hold for a month to allow for public comment. He said the proposal had been placed on the school system's website and no public comments had been received on the schedule. Mr. Morrison noted the proposed calendar has the required 180 student days with up to six days of identified inclement weather or other systemwide closings added. He said the school year would begin for kindergarten through twelfth grade students on Monday, August 27, 2007, and the 180th day for kindergarten through eleventh grade students would be Monday, June 9, 2008. He said Tuesday, June 10 through Friday June 13, along with Friday, March 28 and Thursday, March 27 (in that order) had been identified as the makeup days. Mr. Morrison noted the calendar has what has become the traditional arrangement for teacher staff development days - three prior to the beginning of the student school year (Wednesday, August 22 through Friday, August 24), and two each at the end of the first, second and third quarters - Thursday and Friday, November 1 and 2; Thursday and Friday, January 17 and 18, and Thursday and Friday, March 27 and 28 - and the day after the tentative last day for students, Tuesday, June 10, 2008. Mr. Morrison identified the ten 2 hour early dismissal days for elementary students to allow for teacher planning time, mentioned that - in keeping with a Board parameter - there would be 27 five-day student/teacher weeks out of a 42-week schedule (barring inclement/emergency closings), and, if it is not necessary to use one or both of the fifth and sixth identified inclement weather/emergency closing days, there would be a six-school-day spring break for students - March 21 through 28, 2008. Acting on the motion of Mr. Hess and the second of Mr. Merrell, the Board voted unanimously to approve the proposed 2007-08 calendar.


Acting on the motion of Mr. Fidler and the second of Mr. Hess, the Board voted unanimously to approve the proposed School Wellness Policy as required by the Federal Child Nutrition and Women Infant and Children (WIC) Reauthorization Act of 2004. The Act required local school systems to develop a local school wellness policy which includes goals for nutrition education, physical education, and other activities designed to promote student wellness; nutritional guidelines for foods available on school campus; and assurances that school meals meet or exceed U.S. Department of Agriculture standards. Board Counsel Patrick Spicer told the Board a workgroup had been formed in November 2005, and that that group had presented the proposed policy to the Board on February 27th. He said the proposal had been shared with parent groups, the Harford Health Department, and others. Mr. Merrell said the school system should do all it can to influence as many students as possible to walk to school, gaining exercise in that manner. Mr. Fidler asked for a clarification of the sugar-containing sodas in school vending machines. Mr. Spicer said an agreement had been reached between a public interest group and major soda manufacturers to limit the types of sodas made available to students. The Board Counsel told Mr. Fidler that the school system currently has "expansive prohibitions" that do not permit the serving of any soft drinks or other commodities from vending machines during the school day; and that the Wellness Policy would not apply after the end of the school day.



Mary Kate Keesling of Bel Air said there had been a lot of "misinformation" on the topic, noting that transportation issues had not been defined and that it had come as "quite a surprise" the Medical Science Magnet was ticketed for Bel Air High School. She said the program would take away seats from the school's regular program and that discussion was needed before a decision should be made. Mrs. Keesling said the program, as outlined, would seem to be intended only for those seeking further technical training after high school.


David Volrath, Executive Director of Secondary Education, reminded the Board it had endorsed accelerated learning or magnet programs as a way of meeting the needs of advance learning. He said, in March, the medical science magnet outline had been presented to the Board, but there had not been a proposed location for the program. He said the Medical Science magnet and others are part of a "very intentional effort to elevate the performance of our students in science." He noted, to that end, the Superintendent is recommending the location of the magnet, to be closely associated with the nearby Upper Chesapeake Medical System, at Bel Air High School. Mr. Fidler said the staff needs to come back to the Board with details of how the program would be developed at Bel Air High. Mr. Hess said it is his view the Board could approve the magnet concept without its location pending more information. When asked how putting off a decision on where to locate the Medical Science magnet would impact the construction of the new Bel Air High School, Supervisor of Planning and Construction Kathy Sanner told the Board four teaching stations and laboratory space would be designed for the magnet and that her office would need a decision by the "end of the summer" in order to proceed.

Mr. Fidler said he feels the decision on the Medical Science magnet is twofold, and that he needs more information on the Bel Air location. Mr. Hess said he has received concern from Bel Air parents about locating the Medical Science magnet there, adding it "won't hurt to wait 30 days" for a decision. But, Ms. Rich said "significant decisions have already been made" about the location of the Medical Science magnet. "We don't want to deceive the public - I don't see where else we would put this, especially since the largest medical facility in the county is located nearby - it makes sense to plan (to locate the Medical Science magnet there) as we rebuild Bel Air High."

Dr. Haas said she will direct the school staff to prepare information on how the location of the magnet would impact capacity of the new Bel Air High School, where students would come from, and how transportation would be handled. She reminded the Board that, in 1998-99, the decision had been made by that Board to move forward with magnet programs. Mrs. Sanner said her office is due to bring the Educational Specifications for the replacement Bel Air High School to the Board on June 12th and, if a decision has not been made on the location of the Medical Science magnet by that time, there would have to be a modification brought to them later. She said 10,000 square feet is reserved for a typical magnet program.

Mr. Merrell said he shared Mrs. Keesling's confusion over the purpose of the magnet program, noting that students at Harford Tech are prepared to enter the work force, whereas "only our best students" get into the magnet programs that are being prepared. "I worry about the kids who can't get it," he said. Ms. Rich said the March presentation on the Medical Science magnet program had indicated the program would prepare students both for further education as well as entry into the workforce. Mr. Volrath confirmed that belief. Mr. Merrell moved that the Board set aside action on the proposed approval and location of the Medical Science magnet until May 22 in order to provide for hearing of more information on the program. Mr. Smilko and Mr. Hess seconded the motion. However, with Mr. Fidler and Ms. Rich voting against the motion, it died because a majority to the total Board did not vote for it (3 to 2). The effect was to put off consideration of the proposal.




Chief Financial Officer John Markowski presented the Board with the quarterly financial report, showing the system has received about 80 percent of its expected revenue through March 31st, with 72 percent of the budget having been spent. He said there is a projected fund balance of $4.9 million. He noted that Harford County Public Schools is one of only two counties to have received the Government Financial Officer Association's (GFOA) award for budgeting and financial reporting.


Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Gerald Scarborough and Intervention Specialist Susan Brown presented the Board with the school system's plan to provide intervention for students who do not meet the mandates of the No Child Left Behind Act and High School Assessments in which high school students must pass exams at the end of four courses in order to achieve a high school diploma. "To minimize divergent efforts and to maximize the potential for a cohesive Pre-K intervention program, there must be an intentional and systematic method to identify, monitor, and evaluate all that is being done for the purpose of intervention and remediation," said Mrs. Brown. Dr. Scarborough and Mrs. Brown discussed actions taken to strengthen the academic programs of the Harford County Public Schools, including a research-based K-5 mathematics program; establishment of the Pre-K-5 reading/language arts program and a corresponding 6-12 reading/language arts anthology program; purchase and implementation of a middle school mathematics textbook series to support student achievement; development, implementation, and ongoing professional development of the HCPS teacher mentor program; and creation and implementation of the professional development model for teachers new to the county.


Chief Administrative Officer Jay May and Coordinator of Safety and Security Robert Benedetto presented the Board with information on a pilot of proximity cards to be used by teachers and administrators at Bel Air High School, Hickory Elementary School, and Prospect Mill Elementary School. Mr. May said the "prox cards" would allow for authorized personnel to gain access to outside doors. The schools were chosen because of the presence of portables and other auxiliary buildings on campus. He said he would come back to the Board in September with a report on the pilot. Mr. Benedetto said this is another example of the "interwoven" nature of security and curriculum in the schools.


Mrs. Sanner provided the Board with a quarterly report on construction projects. She said the Bel Air High modernization effort is moving forward with the Education Specifications report due to the Board at its May 22nd meeting. She said there are major utilities that bisect the site (field hockey field) where the new building is to be located. Pending funding, major construction would begin in the FY '07 year and a two-year construction cycle would ensue after which the existing school would be demolished and playing fields re-established. Two roof replacements - C. Milton Wright High and Dublin Elementary - will be undertaken beginning this summer. Fallston Middle School's expansion project is "winding down" with the expanded cafeteria up and running, the auxiliary gymnasium due to open in a few weeks, and the four classrooms and connecting corridors due to be done soon - though the decision has been made to put off occupying the space until the start of next school year to reduce disruption. North Harford High School's modernization is continuing with the old gym and the cafeteria due to be demolished in order to make way for new spaces in the west-facing part of the campus. A new main entrance, auditorium, and music area will be done by May of next year. Mrs. Sanner said the wastewater treatment plant at the school is up and running and the North Harford Middle system has been connected. She said masonry walls and the roof have been completed at Patterson Mill Middle/High School and the project is on schedule. She said the start of furniture selection is underway and the summer months will see the completion of the site with field sand grading being finished. Mrs. Sanner said 16 new relocatables will be purchased and set in place. She said she is looking forward to the advertising for architectural teams that will come with the approval of the FY 07 capital budget, anticipating the beginning of a new elementary school, the addition of a gymnasium at Joppatowne High, and modernization projects at Joppatowne and Deerfield elementary schools; along with the addition at Aberdeen High and the determination for the nature of the Edgewood High School modernization. She said FY 08 will bring modernizations at John Archer School and Youth's Benefit Elementary (pending funding availability). She thanked the Board for including two additional project managers in its plans for her department, noting that she was preparing to advertise for those positions. In answer to a question from Ms. Rich, Mrs. Sanner said preparations for locating of relocatables at Prospect Mill Elementary will begin this month. Mrs. Sanner said there will be a need for relocatables at Deerfield and Joppatowne elementary schools, but some of the current portable structures may not survive another relocation.


Dr. Haas noted the presence of artwork framed around the Board room and the kickoff of the spring exhibit of artwork in the public hallway of the building which had taken place the previous Saturday. She said two charter school applications are due for action on May 22nd and that information had been received from the Restoration Academy that it had obtained commitments from 30 students who would be in the school next fall, up from just 12 a couple of weeks ago. Dr. Haas said the Central Instructional Leadership Team (CILT) has planned leadership sessions for instructionally related administrators and that Mr. May will be doing the same with non-instructionally related administrators. She said strategic planning is continuing in small groups and that much of the work will culminate with the Board's work session on May 15th. The Board will be working with a facilitator on June 3rd to complete the process. Dr. Haas said two secondary administrator promotions/transfers will be announced soon - one for Patterson Mill Middle/High's principal position and the other to replace the retiring Aberdeen Middle School principal Gladys Pace. She congratulated the North Harford Middle School eighth graders on their recent "Up the Down Staircase" presentation. She thanked the NAACP for its honor presented to her the previous Sunday and noted the theme of their meeting - "Remembering Yesterday, Building for Tomorrow."


Mr. Hess said two weeks ago he had attended the State Future Farmers of America banquet and commented on the enthusiastic group of students who were present there. He wished County Council Member Roni Chenowith a full and speedy recovery, noting that she has recently been diagnosed with a serious illness.

Mr. Smilko said he had attended the Scholars and Employee Service recognition dinners recently and noted there were some "pretty impressive kids" among the top five GPA seniors honored by the Harford Delegation. He noted he was impressed at the longevity of many school employees, mentioning two educators who were honored for having completed their 40th years in the system.

Mr. Fidler said May is a busy month with lots of public events, and noted the upcoming 'Relay for Life' events at Edgewood and Bel Air high schools and the participation of many school system staff members in them.

Ms. Rich said, in December, the Board had been asked by the Bel Air Town government to put off making a decision about the fate of the former central office building at 45 E. Gordon Street, noting the town had asked a delay until March. She said there have been many discussions about the possibilities (the Superintendent has recommended the building be razed to make way for parking lot/playground for Bel Air Elementary), and that she will request the situation be brought back for a decision on May 22nd or the Board's first meeting in June (June 12).

Ms. Rich said the Board has completed its work on balancing enrollments and the establishment of an attendance area for Patterson Mill Middle/High School, but it has left the question of boundary exceptions unaddressed. "We will need to make some kind of decision," she said, noting the Board could leave the procedures as they are or direct an adjustment for those students facing relocation. She addressed "rumors" about the expansion of the capacity of the new Bel Air High from 1600 to 1800 students, saying that she was "trying to figure out" where they came from, noting that it may be from the magnet program concept which typically contains 200 students after a phase in, one year at a time, with 50 students per year.

Ms. Rich said strategic planning subgroups have been meeting coming up with the beginnings of a focus based on the town meetings which were held in the fall. She said the process actually goes back to last May when the Harford Business Roundtable for Education held its education conference. She said the process "sometimes gets cumbersome" but will establish the direction of the school system for the next five years.

She noted the Board will meet with a representative of the Maryland Association of Boards of Education (MABE), Kitty Blomsack, on June 3 to establish benchmarks for next school year. Ms. Rich said she, too, had been at the employee recognition and scholars dinners. She also noted her presence at Harford Glen's 25th anniversary celebration for its residential program, noting the dinner, birthday cake and campfire; and the presence of former Board Member Ron Eaton and former County Council Member Sue Heselton, both of whom had played major roles in the development of Harford Glen. She said essay winners talked about the 'life changing transformation' their stay at or service as counselors for Harford Glen had meant. Ms. Rich said those in attendance were asked to look to the future of environmental education in the county and said she would like to see "kids in their own neighborhoods go into their backyards, that's where their environment is, too."


With no more business to come before the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 9:35 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