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HCPS Board Meeting Highlights

Monday, August 14, 2006

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

The following actions and discussions took place during the regular business meeting of the Board of Education of Harford County held in the Harford County Public Schools Administration Building, 102 South Hickory Avenue, Bel Air, on Monday, August 14, 2006, beginning at 7:00 p.m.

Board President Mark M. Wolkow called the meeting to order at 7:02 p.m. All Board members were present. Board Member Thomas L. Fidler, Jr. moved that the Board agenda be approved as presented. The motion was seconded by Board Member Salina M. Williams and was passed unanimously.


  1. Mary Kate Keesling, representing the Bel Air High School PTA, spoke to the Board regarding the proposed Medical Arts magnet that is being considered for Bel Air High. Ms. Keesling stated that the PTA does not support a program that will overcrowd the school. She added that BAHS Principal Joe Voskuhl informed the PTA that enrollment could be 1500 -1600. The magnet program is intended to draw students to the school; however, the school will already be at capacity or above. Aberdeen High School has a reason to boast about its Science and Math Academy and the Army Alliance took initiative into funding the program because of need for employees in their field. Ms. Keesling stated that their children are already attending classes in portables and developers are trying to receive more permits to build due to the redistricting. She also commented that the bottleneck for highly qualified individuals to enter the workforce is at the college level and not at the high school level. She feels that it is important to expand the knowledge base of all of the intended graduates and not just a chosen few. Ms. Keesling has coached the Destination Imagination program for 8 + years and she encouraged the board to appreciate the divergent ideas of others.
  2. Douglas Wright spoke on the topic of kindergarten assessment. Mr. Wright commented that it is only a few weeks shy of the deadline for kindergarten. He did not have the most satisfactory experience when attempting to pursue the kindergarten assessment for his child. He added that people consistently told him "no" because the school system does not have the money or the scheduling to accommodate early entrance kindergartners. He concluded by stating that his experience was very frustrating, it is a crime for someone to get paid to do the job and not do it, and that he feels the assessment process needs a lot of work



The Board voted unanimously to accept the Superintendent's recommendations on items listed on the consent agenda including the Affirmation of Monthly Contract Awards, Monthly Report on Personnel, Minutes of Previous Meetings, a Decision on Food Service Chips and Snacks Contract, a Decision on Food Service Non-Carbonated Canned Beverage Contract, a Decision on Food Service Bread Contract, a Decision on Contract Award for Unleaded Gasoline and Diesel Fuel, a Decision on Contract, Engineering Service for North Harford Middle HVAC Renovation, a Decision on the Contract, Architectural/Engineering Services for Joppatowne Elementary School Modernization/Addition, a Decision on Playground Equipment, a Decision on Food Service Milk and Dairy Contract, and a Decision on Reappointment of Dr. Edward R. Sieracki as Board Ethics Panel Chairman.


Pat Spicer, Board of Education's Legal Councel, stated that David Volrath, director of secondary education, had presented the proposed changes to the portable communication device policy at the June 28, 2006 board meeting. He added that the increased use of cell phones warranted a change to the policy rather than to continue to police the use of cells using school administrative time to police the activity. Mr. Spicer stated that the changes are in respect to manner of possession with communication device and cell phones. Students can not activate or use their cell phones during the school day and must keep them concealed. He added that a uniform discipline policy is needed. The exceptions where others are allowed to possess and use devices are based on special education requirements and students who have authorization to use a laptop computer for instructional use.

One public comment was received from the policy being posted on the HCPS website which was, in turn, forwarded to the Board. Mr. Fidler moved that the Board approve the new policy entitled Portable Communication Device Policy in replacement of the existing Wireless Communication Devices Policy. Board Past President Robin R. Rich seconded the motion by Mr. Fidler and the Board voted unanimously to approve the motion.


Joseph P. Licata, Assistant Superintendent of Operations, and Kathleen E. Sanner, Director of Planning and Construction, stated that the educational specifications and a scope study for Joppatowne Elementary School (JES) were presented to the Board at its June 26th meeting where they approved the ed specs for the JES addition project.

Using the Education Specifications, the schematic plans have been prepared to reflect the needed additional capacity, full-day kindergarten requirements, traffic improvements, specialized program space, and space for remediation and intervention. Ms. Sanner stated that the project has been planned to accommodate a State Rated Capacity of 653, including Special Education. The schematics reflect approximately 87,000 square feet of space, and include an additional kindergarten room to account for a lowering staff ratio, primary, and intermediate commons areas and a connecting corridor between the original kindergarten building and a new addition for kindergarten. The driveway from Barksdale Road has been eliminated, and a new parent drop-off has been created. A new on grade mechanical space has been designed to facilitate phasing and provide access for service vehicles away from the bus traffic.

Mr. Fidler made a motion to approve the Superintendent's recommendation to approve the Schematic Design for the Joppatowne Elementary School Modernization/Addition. Board Member John L. Smilko and Ms. Williams seconded the motion and it was unanimously approved by the Board


Mr. Licata and Mrs. Sanner presented the information on the Educational Specifications and the Schematic Design for the Bel Air High School Replacement. Mrs. Sanner stated that the Board could vote on both documents separately with amendments, if they so choose. The intent of this project is to construct the replacement school on the Bel Air site and to demolish the existing school when construction is complete.

The specifications and schematics were modified based on Board action on July 26, 2006 to increase the seating in the auditorium from 536 to approximately 800. The educational specification also contains a description of the proposed medical arts magnet program. The laboratory and classroom components of this space are generically described, acknowledging that if the program does not come to fruition, these spaces are part of the regular capacity.

Mrs. Sanner publicly thanked Mr. Voskuhl and his staff and Harry Miller, Facilities Planner, for pulling this all together by concurrently developing the schematic design. The capacity is 1600 but it is looking more like 1663 - utilizing the state rate of capacity at 1668. Mrs. Sanner added that the direction to the staff is "what do you need for a school for 1600." She added that projections will be based on the redistricting numbers and will look at five years out from the year the school is seeking planning approval.

    Motion, Second and Vote - Mr. Fidler made a motion to approve the Educational Specifications based on the changes that the Table of Contents section entitled Medical Arts Program, Page 77, is removed from the Educational Specifications and that the physical space be categorized as "General." Mr. Merrell seconded the motion, which passed by a 7-0 voice vote. Miss Cook cast a favorable preferential vote.

    Motion, Second and Vote - Mr. Fidler made a motion to approve the Superintendent's recommendation of the schematic design for the replacement of Bel Air High School. Ms. Rich and Mr. Merrell seconded the motion, which passed by a 7-0 voice vote. Miss Cook cast a favorable preferential vote.


Ms. Rich moved that the New Business item - Decision on Appointments and Promotions - be moved from the end of the agenda to this point in the meeting to accommodate those who are in attendance with their families. Mr. Fidler seconded and the Board unanimously approved the agenda item change.

Approval of Appointments

    Ms. Rich made a motion to accept the Superintendent's recommendation to appoint Mr. Gary Childress, Supervisor of Food Services, St. Mary's County Public Schools, to Supervisor of Food and Nutrition. Mr. Fidler seconded the motion, which passed by a 6 to 0-voice vote. Ms. Jennifer L. Cook cast a favorable preferential vote.

    Ms. Rich made a motion to accept the Superintendent's recommendation to promote Mr. Charles A. Grebe, Construction Project Assistant, Harford County Public Schools to Assistant Supervisor in Planning & Construction. Mr. Fidler seconded the motion, which passed by a 6 to 0-voice vote. Ms. Cook cast a favorable preferential vote.

    Ms. Rich made a motion to accept the Superintendent's recommendation to appoint Ms. Wanita Fleury, Dean of Students, Malone CSD, New York to Secondary School Assistant Principal I, North Harford High. Mr. Hess seconded the motion, which passed by 6 to 0-voice vote. Ms. Cook cast a favorable preferential vote.

    Ms. Rich made a motion to accept the Superintendent's recommendation to promote Mr. Lamark A. Holley, eighth grade science teacher, Edgewood Middle School, to Secondary School Assistant Principal I, middle school pool. Mr. Hess seconded the motion, which passed by 6 to 0-voice vote. Ms. Cook cast a favorable preferential vote.

    Ms. Rich made a motion to accept the Superintendent's recommendation to appoint Mr. Philip J. Maddox, Construction Specialist, Baltimore County Public Schools, to Assistant Supervisor in Planning & Construction. Mr. Hess seconded the motion, which passed by 6 to 0-voice vote. Ms. Cook cast a favorable preferential vote.


Mr. James M. Jewell, director of budget, and Mr. John M. Markowski, chief financial officer, presented the action item to the Board in order to reserve the fund balance for the health insurance "call." The Harford County Public Schools Fiscal Year 2005 budget did not have to pay the "Call" of approximately $1,045,000 for the consortium settlement as a result of improved claims and reserves versus premiums paid. The "Call" is estimated to be $1,225,166 for Fiscal Year 2007. This "Call" was not budgeted for Fiscal Year 2007.

The Superintendent recommended that the Board approve the designation of fund balance from unspent funds from Fiscal Year 2006 in the amount of $1,225,166 for a Designation of Fund Balance for the Health Insurance "Call." The "Call" would remain as a designation of fund balance from year to year and would require an adjustment to the amount based on estimated health care premiums for each year.

Mr. Fidler made a motion to approve the Superintendent's recommendation regarding the Designation of Fund Balance of the Health Insurance "Call." Ms. Rich seconded the motion, which passed unanimously. Ms. Cook cast a favorable preferential vote.


A decision on the potential uses and a layout of possible schemes to integrate the Gordon Street property to meet the needs of Bel Air Elementary School will occur sometime in the near future. An amount of $50,000 is requested to be designated as a fund balance for the planning of the integration of the Gordon Street property for further use by the school system.

Ms. Rich made a motion to accept the Superintendent's recommendation to approve the designation of fund balance from unspent funds from FY06 in the amount of $50,000 for planning, adding that this amount is considered a cap and not a designation and can only be used for non-recurring one time items. Ms. Williams seconded the motion, which passed by a 6 to 0-vote. Ms. Cook cast a favorable preferential vote.


Mr. Spicer and Mr. Jewell presented the charter school agreement for the Restoration Alternative Academy Charter School (RAACS) for Board approval. Mr. Spicer stated that on July 5, 2006, financial concerns arose regarding the viability of ICS/RAACS. These concerns focused primarily upon the prohibition of the expenditure of federal/state grant funds for ICS/RAACS' staff/personnel wages, salaries, and benefits. As a result of discussion between the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE), the United States Department of Education (USDOE), and representatives of the Board and RAACS, the USDOE may waive the staff/personnel prohibition for one year in light of the nature and purpose of RAACS. A final decision has not been made by MSDE/USDOE. Mr. Spicer stated that new language making a waiver of the prohibition relating to the use of federal/state grant funds for personnel/staff costs, a condition precedent of this agreement, has been included.

Mr. Spicer asked that permission be granted to modify RAACS to allow that they not open in conjunction with the HCPS schedule but to be opened at a time that the Superintendent identifies. Dr. Haas added that the delayed opening is not due to RAACS inactivity but rather a federal grant setback. She added that an approval will be conditional based on meeting with Dr. Nancy Grasmick, state superintendent of schools, to work on a delayed opening for the school. Ms. Rich added that she is pleased that we are finally at the point of opening a new charter school.

Discussion took place regarding deferring the payment in the second part of the fiscal year. It was decided that deferring payment to a different time within the fiscal year would not make a difference in speeding up the opening process.

Ms. Rich made a motion to accept the Superintendent's recommendation to approve the Public Charter School Agreement by and between the Board and ICS to operate a public charter school known and designated as RAACS adding that the opening date would be subject to the Superintendent's recommendation. Ms. Williams seconded the motion, which passed by a 6 to 0-roll call vote. Ms. Cook cast a favorable preferential vote.


Dr. Haas reported on the Interscholastic Athletics and Extracurricular Eligibility data. The Board of Education revised the eligibility criteria for participation in interscholastic athletics and extracurricular activities during the 2004 - 2005 school year. This resulted in a criteria that required no more than one 'E' during the 2005 - 2006 school year to participate in these programs for the 2006 -2007 school year. The data presented was preliminary due to the fact that this data is normally required to be submitted to the Supervisor of Secondary Physical Education and Interscholastic Athletics five days before the first event of each sports season.

The data are disaggregated by the standard reporting subgroups used for other disaggregation of data for the Maryland School Assessments and for the High School Assessments. This format allows the high schools to utilize the data within the work and context of their School Improvement Teams, considering patterns noted, and determining school improvement efforts and possible programs that address the opportunities for improvement of student performance.

Board President Wolkow stated that the school system will have to monitor this policy to ensure that we are getting the right effects. The System needs to keep track of the data quarterly and this will help determine what to do, when to do it, and where to apply resources.


The Capital Improvement Program includes site acquisition for two elementary schools and one middle school as well as future capacity projects. The Center for Educational Opportunity building will receive renovations due to the new charter school, the Restoration Academy Alternative Academy Charter School (RAACS), and Alternative Education. There will be systemic modernizations, including door and window replacements, HVAC replacement, and ADA modifications and room functions.

Concerning the Bel Air High School auditorium, responses will be made on a point-by-point basis regarding the theatre consultant report. Mrs. Sanner mentioned that it should be possible to expand the capacity of Joppatowne High School. The Planning & Construction department will work with the principal and the community to provide a direction utilizing a scope study.

Due to the fact that Patterson Mill Middle/High School project is a forward funded project, it will be prioritized as the number one project. The request will be $14,788,000. Joppatowne Elementary School modernization/addition project will be request number two. The project will start in the summer of 2007. The Bel Air High School replacement comes in at number three because the educational specifications and schematics will be to the state by September 1. FY08 is the last year that requests can be made for 65% of construction funding, every year after only 58% will be accepted. A textbook refresh of $1,250,000 has also been included in the state's request which includes elementary, middle, and high schools.

A post summary sheet will be available on the HCPS website ( for general public comment. Ms. Rich added that other counties were asking for a lot more last year and they received it. HCPS didn't ask for as much last year and that is the cause for the jump to a request of $55 million. Board President Wolkow added that the Board has clearly stated that capacity projects come first rather than renovations; however, renovations have become additions.


Dr. Haas told the Board that she received notification from State Superintendent Dr. Grasmick regarding students who take AP courses and tests - as long as they passed the test with a grade of three or above - the test will count as a high school assessment plus. Many students will have already taken biology and have to elect not to take the HSA in order to take an AP course. Dr. Haas stated that she was in Washington D.C. for the Superintendent Conference where discussion was held regarding current legislative issues in Congress. One issue on the table is regarding third party billing. Historically third party billing has been allowed for transportation costs and home case management. President Bush would like to cut these allowable costs. Norman Seidel, director of transportation, and his staff struggle to create different routes for special need children. She urged Board members to contact congress people to voice their disagreement with the cut backs. Dr. Haas mentioned that there will be a time schedule for phase in of the new elementary immunization requirements. The nursing staff will notify families that they may have to be immunized and to contact the school to see a new immunization schedule. The new schedule will be posted on the HCPS website. In 2011, Maryland will come on board with the graduation rate definition. With this new definition, a student that spends more than four years in high school may be considered a non-graduate.

Chief of Administration Jay May provided an update on the North Harford High School project. He stated that the school is on schedule to be open to teachers on Wednesday, August 23, and will open on time to students with all other schools. He added that some classrooms might not be ready by the time teachers come back but will be ready for the start of school. A cleaning firm has been hired to assist with clean up and additional resources have been called in to assist. Parents will be meeting on Thursday, August 24, at 7:00 p.m. at the school to answer questions that parents may have. Parents can also communicate with the school system by calling Mr. May with concerns at 410-588-5202 or email Updated information will be posted on the Edline website for the school district -


Ms. Rich commented that in order for the Board to build necessary elementary schools the county government needs to identify a piece of property. She added that Mrs. Sanner's Capital Projects report lists a new elementary school as number four on the list because the county council as not yet found a site. She urged the County Council to find a site for the new elementary school as soon as possible. Mr. Fidler wished Dr. Haas and the system all the best for the first day of school and added that everyone should watch out for school buses and to be safe going into the school year. Board President Wolkow stated that he was pleased with RAACS moving forward but added that he was disappointed with the Federal government dragging their feet on funding. He publicly thanked the Klein's chain for donating $40,000 for grants from schools again this year. He added that Klein's is a great model for any other enterprise that wants to get involved. President Wolkow congratulated the Superintendent for moving forward with the Edgewood High School (EHS) community - through letters asking for input to EHS master plan for Deerfield Elementary School, Edgewood High School, and Edgewood Middle School. He stated that he attended the Youth Leadership Academy event at Harford Glen where he met 43 members who put together improvement plans for the Edgewood Community. He ended by saying "change is with us in every area at all times."


With no further business to come before the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 9:51 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