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HCPS Board Meeting Highlights

Monday, May 22, 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 open session for a regular Business Meeting on Monday, May 22, 2006 in the Board Room of the Harford County Public School System Administration Building at 102 S. Hickory Avenue in Bel Air.

Board President R. Robin Rich called the meeting to order at 6:30 p.m. and Board Vice President Mark M. Wolkow moved the agenda by modified to move Item F Disposition of the Administration Building, 45 E. Gordon Street, to be considered directly after the Consent Agenda. The move was seconded by Board Member Patrick L. Hess and passed unanimously by the Board.

Ms. Rich said she had heard a rumor over the weekend that the cafeteria and the gymnasium at Bel Air Middle School would not be air conditioned during that upcoming project. She said that rumor was incorrect and assured those present that both areas would be air conditioned, adding that the statement was now in the record. Ms. Rich said the original scope study did, in fact, leave the cafeteria and the gym out of the project, but, now that the project is at the point of becoming reality, the mistake was noticed by Chief of Administration Jay F. May and his staff and the error has been corrected.


The Board of Education conducted five sets of Recognitions. The first was the monthly (during the school year) induction of two new members into the HCPS Educator Hall of Fame. Inducted (posthumously) was H. Jean Denton, 29-year teacher at Magnolia and Church Creek elementary schools (induction accepted by her widower and retired HCPS Principal David Denton); and retired 37-year science teacher, 35 of those years at Havre de Grace Middle School, Raymond F. Hebert.

The second Recognition involved awards to the nine 2006-07 HCPS Teacher of the Year Finalists and the 2006-07 HCPS Teacher of the Year, North Bend Elementary fourth grade teacher Susan J. Healy. Also recognized were Finalists Kerrie L. Bauer, Joppatowne High School Math teacher; Roxanne L. Dodson, Aberdeen Middle Art teacher; Nancy J. Murray, Youths Benefit Elementary third grade teacher; Margaret E. Phillips, North Harford Middle Musical Theater teacher; Mary Ann Hartshorn, Bel Air High School English teacher; Robert J. Powers, Emmorton Elementary Instrumental Music teacher; Holly A. Rankin, Abingdon Elementary second grade teacher; Brian W. Rheinhardt, C. Milton Wright High English teacher; and Amy M. Woolf, Edgewood High School Biology teacher. Dr. Haas and Ms. Rich presented Ms. Healy with items which had been given her and then taken back during the April 27th Teacher of the Year banquet, including a School Bell, a plaque, and a watch. Since the identity of the Teacher of the Year was not made public until the announcement at the conclusion of the annual banquet, the items were recovered in order to be appropriately engraved.

The third Recognition involved the 2005-06 Harford County Public School Nurse of the Year, Robin H. Testerman, School Nurse at Aberdeen High School. Mrs. Testerman, a graduate of Aberdeen High, had a successful 25-year career as a maternal child health nurse before deciding to become a school nurse, taking a job near her home at Dublin Elementary in 1992 and moving on to Aberdeen High in 1998. She was chosen as Nurse of the Year by the Harford Schools Health Services Association (HSHSA) and presented with the surprise award at the organizations annual banquet held on April 20th.

The fourth Recognition went to K. Lance Lotharp, Edgewood Middle School seventh grader, who won the Harford County Spelling Bee on March 30th and qualified to represent Harford County in the National Scripps-Howard Spelling Bee scheduled for the Memorial Day Weekend in Washington, D.C. Lance is 12-years-old and outlasted 23 other middle school spelling champions from all eight Harford County Public middle schools and several non-public schools in the county to win the Harford title.

The fifth Recognition went to the Havre de Grace High School student service group Service Makes an Individuals Life Extra Special (SMILES), which was one of two student groups to have received the 2006 Governors Volunteer Service Award. More than one-fourth of the schools 600 student enrollment belongs to the club which puts on an annual Thanksgiving Dinner, runs a Senior prom for area senior citizens, conducts a food drive, serves at a local soup kitchen, assists with the American Cancer Societys Daffodil Days, helps with the Childrens Art Festival, assists with the Decoy Festival, sponsors trips to area nursing homes, and conducts many more service programs during the school year. Twenty-one students and nine adult chaperones including founding and continuing sponsor Don Osman attended the ceremonies at the Governors Mansion in Annapolis on April 26th. The organization is 22 years old and Mr. Osman, who retired as an English teacher at the school after 40 years of service, remains its adult sponsor.


Brian Rheinhardt, an English teacher at C. Milton Wright High School, told the Board he continues to be opposed to the four-period, standardized schedule for high schools as currently planned to go into effect next school year. He said, due to the complexity of the schedules, slotting students for their classes becomes an even more difficult puzzle than with other schedules, especially when the option of alternating or daily schedules, semesterized or non-semesterized options, and the fact that each high school can decide its format is concerned. He said he hopes the Board will carefully monitor the implementation of the schedule and volunteered to help in that regard.

Harry Reed of Beards Hill Road in Aberdeen said he wanted to make sure his eight-year-old child would get a good education in Aberdeen. He said he would like to see the old North Building be used as a bridge to house the over-enrollment at Aberdeen High until the planned for addition is completed at the new building. He noted use of the building would immediately add 750 seats, a gymnasium, and a cafeteria, thus eliminating current congestion and preparing for possible increased students that would accompany the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) which promises to bring additional students to the area. He noted his group has a builder willing to contribute $6 million to create a facility for the current Alternative Education program and the prospective charter school which now uses or plans to use, respectively, the building now named Center for Educational Opportunity.

Jerry Lacey of Grasmere Lane in Aberdeen said he was also part of the group mentioned by Mr. Reed. He complained that there had not been enough public comment on the issue. He noted, by using the 750 seats available in the former North Building, the school system would be ahead of the curve for once in having a surplus of student seats 2,100 for a possible 1,700 students. He said it is a $40 million asset and added the building could be shared with the Alternative Education program for the time being.

Kim Mayforth of Southworth Court in Bel Air, accompanied by her son Ben, said her son, who has multiple disabilities and is a student at Bel Air Middle, loves both the cafeteria and gymnasium and added she was encouraged by the news from Ms. Rich that those areas will be air conditioned. Mrs. Mayforth asked one of the Board Members or other school leaders to shadow Ben through a day at Bel Air Middle which is currently only partially air conditioned. Ben thanked the Board for putting air conditioning into the lunchroom and gymnasium, adding, they are two of the hottest places in the building.

Hannah Chenoweth of Saratoga Drive in Bel Air, and a student at Bel Air Middle, thanked the Board for its reassurance that air conditioning would be installed in the gymnasium and cafeteria of Bel Air Middle School.

Lisa Chenoweth of the same address (Hannahs mother) said, at the middle school orientation, every parent and kid was fanning themselves. She said the school principal gave a timeline at that venue of the impending air conditioning project, which still hasnt happened.

Ms. Rich said the first two times the project was on the to-do list it was not funded, adding the third time is the charm.



Mr. Wolkow moved and Board Member Salina M. Williams seconded that items on the Consent Agenda be approved. The Board voted unanimously to do so. Items on the Consent Agenda included the Monthly Report on Personnel; the Proposed Resolution on Mr. William R. Garrett, Student Representative to the Board of Education for 2005-06 (the Resolution was read aloud by Mr. Wolkow and Mr. Garrett was presented with a HCPS commemorative pin by Superintendent Jacqueline C. Haas); Award of Contract Packages 1A and 2A for the New Relocatable Classroom Units; Minutes for the Board Budget Work Session of January 18, Business Meetings of January 18, January 23, February 21, February 27, March 6, March 20, and April 3, along with the Work Sessions of February 21 and March 13, 2006; Approval of HCPS Teacher Technology Literacy Standards; and Ratification of the Negotiated Agreement with the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees.


Ms. Rich provided a background on issues surrounding the proposed demolition of the former Harford County Public School central office building at 45 E. Gordon Street in Bel Air. She said the situation involves the classic clash of the Boards desire to develop the property on which the 45 E. Gordon Street building now rests to benefit the children in the Boards care and the desire of others to keep a building. She said the disposition of two buildings 45 E. Gordon and 54 E. Gordon were placed on the December 12, 2005 Board agenda but were separated at the request of Bel Air Town Mayor Terry Hanley to delay action on the 45 E. Gordon Street structure until Mach 1, 2006 to provide the Town with opportunity to show ways the 45. E. Gordon Street building could be put to a viable use. Subsequently, the Board voted to surplus the 54 E. Gordon Street building (Proctor House) and turn it over to the County for disposition. Ms. Rich pointed out that the Board does not have the power to convey a property under its control to a third entity, instead, declaring a property that is no longer needed by the school system as part of the educational program surplus and turning it over to the County government for disposition. She said, in February, Dr. Haas, Mr. May and she met with Town officials who discussed a plan by two different third parties to do a land swap. At that time, the second of the two private parties, whose plan the Town considered more viable, said he wanted to wait five years before completing the swap. I made it clear, the Town of Bel Air would have complete access to the building while it was researching possibilities for its use, Ms. Rich said of the 45 E. Gordon Street facility. At the end of the meeting, I confirmed the staff would conduct a feasibility study of the second alternative and, should it not meet the needs of the school system involving expansion of land for parking, bus loops, and playgrounds for Bel Air Elementary School, we would have tried in good faith to meet the needs of children and those charged with saving the building. The Board needs the land, not the building, Ms. Rich emphasized. In May, she said, she wrote to Mayor Hanley noting that disposal of the 45 E. Gordon Street property would be placed on the May 22nd agenda, noting that 2 ½ months had passed since the original deadline and more than five months since the Boards original decision to hold the item over. She said no viable formal plans had been submitted during that time but a number of communications questioning the character, interest in American history and traditions had been received. Ms. Rich said she had received a letter from Town Planner Carol Deibel about the two proposed land swaps with no additional information than that which had been discussed in February during the meeting that Mrs. Deibel was not able to attend. Ms. Rich said on the Friday prior to the Board Meeting (May 19), she had proposed separately to Board Members that the decision be delayed again, this time until June 19th, and that a Board liaison John L. Smilko, who works at a business in town be appointed. She said, after a flurry of uncomplimentary statements from Town officials and others over the weekend aimed at rallying opposition to the Boards plans, she was reluctant to make her proposal for an extension official. She noted the Board is charged with doing the best thing for students and, if the Board should agree to her proposal, it would not be because of the rabble rousing, rather because of the patience of this Board.


A series of individuals presented their views on the matter.

Jim McMahan, a Town Commissioner who said he was speaking as an individual who had attended school beginning in 1944 in the 45 E. Gordon Street building when it was an elementary school, commended Dr. Haas for her willingness to be open in all matters and her advocacy for students. We are your students, too give us some time to help us preserve our heritage, he said.

Dale Neeper, educational liaison for County Executive David Craig, read a letter from Mr. Craig urging the Board to delay disposition of the building for an additional 60 days.

Scott Furley of E. Broadway in Bel Air, said he lives in the neighborhood of the 45 E. Gordon Street building but does not advocate preservation for preservations sake. He said a delay in the disposition would be a speck of time in the historical perspective. He noted that a structural study of the building had shown it to be sound and tearing it down could cost tax revenue if the building were to be put to a commercial use. He said the position that preserving the building and providing play/parking space for Bel Air Elementary are mutually exclusive is incorrect.

Jim Chrismer of Leeswood Road in Bel Air said late historian C. Milton Wright had bemoaned the loss of historic buildings in Bel Air in 1972. He said the Board is also stewards of the taxpayers money as well as the educational heritage and that previous monumental decisions were made in the 45 E. Gordon Street building.

Carol Deibel explained that she had been hospitalized when the February meeting had been held and said the Town may have been negligent in not coming to the Board earlier in its call for a non-confrontational work group to be set up to study the issue. She said the five-year issue had not been part of the Towns discussion with the neighboring land owner and that the Town would help with the property transfer, traffic engineering service, and traffic control device. Mrs. Deibel said the building is so important to the history of the town and county that the Town government will work with the Board in making sure land is made available for student use at Bel Air Elementary. She said the building is eligible for national register nomination and that no state or federal funds can be used to take the building down because it has that status. Mrs. Deibel said the building is part of the Town historic inventory and that demolition would not be an easy process.

Ms. Rich said she was confused since Mayor Hanley had communicated with the school system that day saying enough time had been provided by the Board and the Town had not come up with a viable solution, urging that the Board get on with life in demolishing the building.

Richard Herbig, former president of the Harford Historical Society, thanked school leaders for their cooperation in the issue of 45 E. Gordon Street, noting that May is Historical Preservation Month, and adding that he looked forward to the dialogue with the Board concerning the building.

James Wollon of Havre de Grace, an architect specializing in historic preservation, said he supports preservation of the building.

Brian Payne of Thomas Run Circle said the building is sound and remains a viable structure, noting it was the first brick school building in the county and it should not be replaced with a parking lot. He noted the demolition of the building would give very little land and, while playgrounds enrich life, historic preservation passes on to future generations the memories of the past.

Charlsie Brooks of Mazwell Court in Churchville, a longtime resident of Bel Air, said there is precious little left of the towns past and suggested grant money could be sought to turn part of the building into a classroom museum, a portion could be used as a World War II homefront display, and the upstairs as an archive. She said she realizes such ventures would cost money but saving the building and finding an alternative use is worth it.

Mr. Hanley said he had called a school system official that day and had expressed his feelings the Board of Education had not been treated fairly in being portrayed as not having given the Town a chance to make a proposal to save the building. He said, for the record, he did not speak for the Town, noting that no one is banging down the doors of the Board with an alternative for the building and that it would cost a fortune to rehabilitate the building. He asked that the Town be given more time to see if some viable alternative could be found.

Maryanna Skoronski thanked the Board and school system for its gift of artifacts from 45 E. Gordon Street prior to the systems central office functions being moved to its new location.

Adrienne M. Endres of Orley Place, a student at Harford Community College where she is in the building preservation program, said her great grandmother was alive when 45 E. Gordon Street building was new, adding that she would be interested in finding a purpose for the building if it were to be preserved.

Jeffrey Herget of Amy Drive in Abingdon, a member of the Bel Air Downtown Alliance, said, as part of the marketing for the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC), the Town needs a compelling reason for people to come to Bel Air and the dedication to preserve the towns heritage could show a tangible connection between the Town and the school system.

Sallee Kunkel Filkins of W. Gordon Street and the Town governments Economic Development Administrator, said she was a former teacher who had taught at Bel Air Elementary School before becoming involved in measuring and researching historic sites. She said the building served for 67 years as a school. Enlarged twice, the building exemplifies the history of education in Harford County, she said. Mrs. Filkins said $30 million in rehab tax credits are available. She noted that, with BRAC people coming and a need to display Smart Growth, she is anxious to work with the Board in finding an alternative.

John Sauers of Darlington said he began his education in 1939 as an elementary student in the 45 E. Gordon Street building. He said the building is a key component of the Hickory Avenue to Liriodendron series of historic buildings in town. The resident artist said the building could provide a site for students to come see artists at work. He noted everyone has a lot to gain from preservation of the building.

Susan Morrissey Ward of Hunter Drive, a Town Commissioner, said the ball was dropped somewhere along the way and asked for patience from the Board. She said the Town is not just a series of anonymous neighborhoods in the area around the E. Gordon Street building. She noted the building is a treasure and children need a sense of history.


Mr. May presented the Superintendents recommendation that the 45 E. Gordon Street building be razed in order to make way for expanded playfields at Bel Air Elementary, a parent dropoff for students location, and additional parking. He said Bel Air Elementary, located on about 6.3 acres of land, is hampered since it is recommended elementary schools have from 15 to 20 acres for their building, parking, driveways, and play areas. Mr. May pointed to sections of state law that give the Board of Education sole right to determine if a piece of land or building under its control is no longer useful for education purposes, noting that, if either is no longer viable, it is to be surplused to the County government for disposition. He said the school administration had done a study of the proposed land swap and rejected the proposal based on its limitations insofar as location, access onto Hickory Avenue, topography not as desirable, vehicular congestion, and other factors. He said that was the only serious proposal advanced by the Town. Dr. Haas said the land swap is something the school system cannot do, rather the property would have to be surplused to the County which would then have options for its disposal or use. She said the 45 E. Gordon Street property is part of the Bel Air Elementary School deed. She noted the school system had not had any conversations with the land owner cited by the Town, but she trusts the Town has had those conversations.

Board Member Lee Merrell reiterated the school system is proposing to use the land that would be realized with the demolition of the 45 E. Gordon Street building along with the adjacent property for playgrounds, parking lots, and parent dropoff areas.

Mr. Wolkow asked and was told there are several other elementary schools Forest Hill, Fountain Green, Churchville, Dublin, and others with less than the desired 15 acres, but none so small as Bel Air Elementarys site. He said the lack of communication during the months since the topic was tabled has resulted in no small degree of frustration. He said the Boards primary responsibility remains its obligation to the students and staff of Bel Air Elementary School. He said the information presented that night represented much we have not seen. He said it is not the Boards job to come up with an alternative, rather it is the Towns responsibility. Im not going to wait forever we need to move with haste, it has been five months and not a whole lot has been happening.

Mr. Hess said it is clear there are those in the town who want to see the building preserved and suggested those who have such an interest use the land that is being proposed as a swap for the 45 E. Gordon Street property, instead use it as a place to site the building which would be moved to that location.

Mr. Smilko said there is no evidence of any money forthcoming to make the swap possible and that an extension of 30 or 60 days, or even a year, does not guarantee such a commitment would be realized.

Mr. Hess moved the Board extend consideration of the Superintendents proposal to raze the building at 45 E. Gordon Street for a period of 30 days to allow for input/options from the Town, Historical Society, or others. Mrs. Williams seconded the motion and it was added that Mr. Smilko would be the liaison to the Town. The Board voted unanimously to pass the motion.


Dr. Haas announced a series of administrative reassignments which the school system will implement in line with her authority to do so. She also made a series of recommendations for administrative appointments which the Board endorsed one by one. All the moves would become effective after July 1, 2006. The moves/appointments were:

Current Position
2006-07 Position
OBrien, Michael L. Assistant Principal IV
Aberdeen High School
Secondary Instructional Facilitator-Harford Technical High School and Center for Educational Opportunity
Wickman, Karl E. Assistant Principal IV
North Harford Middle School
Secondary Instructional Facilitator Pool
Gardner, Dawn A. On Leave from Assistant Principal Position, Baltimore County Public Schools Elementary Instructional Facilitator Pool
Walling, N. Patricia Assistant Principal IV
Bel Air High School
High School Principal
Havre de Grace High School
Krantz, Chandra P. Assistant Principal IV
Aberdeen Middle School
Middle School Principal
Aberdeen Middle School
Cook, Christopher Acting Principal
Joppatowne Elementary School
Elementary School Principal Joppatowne Elementary School
Benjamin-Jones, Gwendolyn Elementary Instructional Facilitator Elementary School Principal Pool
Pawlicki, Bryan E. Assistant Principal, Carroll County Public Schools High School Assistant Principal IV Havre de Grace High School
Harbert, Joseph P. Teacher
Aberdeen High School
High School Assistant Principal I Aberdeen High School
Lane, Elizabeth Teacher
Aberdeen High School
High School Assistant Principal I Edgewood High School
Mickey, Melissa K. Assistant Principal III
Bel Air Middle School
Middle School Assistant Principal IV Magnolia Middle School
Pretlow, Aaron H. Assistant Principal II
Aberdeen High School
Middle School Assistant Principal IV Aberdeen Middle School
Gunning, James M.
Aberdeen Middle School
Middle School Assistant Principal I Aberdeen Middle School
Hill, Mr. Tracy W. Teacher
Aberdeen Middle School
Middle School Assistant Principal I Bel Air Middle School


During the course of the fiscal year, certain costs for special education and fuel for bus transportation have far exceeded budgeted expectations when the FY 2006 Budget was approved. Various additional pieces of equipment and furniture need to be purchased. Transfers from Instructional Salaries and Retirement are necessary to cover the increased costs of inclusion helpers and non-public placement costs. Director of Budget Jim Jewell presented the Board with the proposal to shift $400,000 for additional transportation and other needs. Acting on the motion of Mr. Merrell and the seconds of Mr. Smilko and Mrs. Williams, the Board authorized the Superintendent to seek the approval of the County government to make the transfers from one budget category to the category where the funds are needed. The moves would not impact the bottom line of the Boards FY 2006 operating budget.



Dr. Haas discussed the vague nature of the Maryland Charter School law passed in 2003. She said the law left much of the implementation procedures to be worked out by local school systems. She noted the Restoration Alternative Academy Public Charter School (RAACS) had needed to work through a number of issues including the requirement to have at least 30 students signed up and questions about the non-profit status of the program. On January 10, 2005, the Board had supported the Superintendents recommendation to conditionally approve the proposed RAACS program if benchmarks and established timelines were met. On January 23, 2006, the Board extended the conditional approval until May 1, 2006. Dr. Haas said, since RAACS had met all conditions for its approval, it is essential that steps be taken immediately to work out contract language and settle facilities issues (the Charter School is to be located in a portion of the Center for Educational Opportunity building in Aberdeen) can be addressed. The program is projected to begin operation in the fall of 2006. Pastor Nathaniel Johnson thanked the Board and the school system for working with RAACS in satisfying the requirements of the program. In answer to a question from Mr. Wolkow, Dr. Haas said RAACS would be paying for renovations to the area of the building where its program will be located. Dr. Haas said the charter school will operate in the same manner as other HCPS schools and, since it involves secondary students, would report to Executive Director of Secondary Education David Volrath. Acting on the motion of Mrs. Williams and the second of Mr. Merrell, the Board voted unanimously to approve the charter for RAACS.


Dr. Haas said the Ben Carson Public Charter School application has been problematic from the outset and has continued to be filled with issues involving contentions with members of the charter schools leaders. She said she cannot put the Board in the middle of what continues to be a series of issues with the proposed charter school. Board Counsel Patrick Spicer said he echoed the Superintendents points, making note of issues with the organizations non-profit status, a suit between principals of the organization, injunctions about copyright issues, and many others. Ms. Rich reviewed five reasons the Superintendent had presented for denial of the Ben Carson Charter School application. Members of the Ben Carson organization appeared in an attempt to answer some of the Boards concerns. But, Dr. Haas said the school system cannot resolve the organizations issues. Acting on the motion of Mr. Hess and the second of Mrs. Williams, the Board voted unanimously to deny the application.


Noting the approaching 10:00 p.m. deadline after which a unanimous vote by the Board is required to continue addressing items on the agenda.


Cindy Mumby of 202 Rolling Knoll Drive, representing the Bel Air High School PTSA, reported on a meeting of the group in which 77 comments were received about magnet programs. She said the group suggested, in order, performing and visual arts, a countywide vocational-technical school, and a school for computer and technology as the first three priorities with the proposed Medical Arts facility tied for fourth. She said members questioned the advisability of expanding magnet programs, pointing to the lopsided participation in magnets across the county. She said the Bel Air High School PTSA cannot support a program that causes structural overcrowding, noting that, even after redistricting and a 1600 capacity, with 200 seats reserved for the (Medical Arts) magnet program, it would take away from the overall program. She said the parents are trying to do our part, but she believes the public has been left out of the process.


Mr. Wolkow said he had visited the Edgewood High School Finance Academy end of year breakfast and noted that all the students have confirmed their summer internship placements.


With the 10:00 p.m. curfew approaching, Ms. Rich said other items on the agenda Review of Magnet Programs, Instructional Data Management System INFORM, and the Superintendents Report would be moved to the June 12th meeting. The Board President declared the meeting adjourned at 9:56 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