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HCPS Board Meeting Highlights

Monday, November 27, 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 at the Monday, November 27, 2006 Board of Education of Harford County meeting held in the Board Room of the Harford County Public Schools Administration Building, 102 South Hickory Avenue in Bel Air.

The meeting was gaveled to order by Board President Mark M. Wolkow at 6:34 p.m.

Taking a time of "President's privilege," Mr. Wolkow thanked those who had provided expressions of support for his family following the recent loss of his father. He also expressed his outrage at the coverage by the local newspaper of the Board of Education, the Superintendent, and the school system. He said he had hoped the newspaper would provide a more balanced coverage of the school system and its leadership, but reiterated the words of former Board President Bob Magee who called the newspaper, "a cancer in the community."


The Board acknowledged three sets of Recognitions. The first involved the induction of the late Susan Ann Tucker into the Harford County Public School Educator Hall of Fame. Mrs. Tucker, who passed away in 2005, served for 29 years in a variety of HCPS elementary schools as a teacher, counselor, and assistant principal. Known as an exceptionally warm and caring educator, Mrs. Tucker also expected and received respect from students and staff as one who advocated excellence for all. The induction was accepted in Mrs. Tucker's name by her husband, Joppatowne Principal Macon Tucker II, and their two sons, Macon III and Benjamin.

The second recognition was the presentation of Board certificates to the four HCPS drivers trainers - Diana Ormrod, Kathy Mayor, Trish Cannaday, and Joy Mattheu - in recognition of the school system having received a nationwide award during the National Association of Pupil Transportation held in Kansas City, Missouri earlier in the month.

The third recognition saw the Board present a certificate to Havre de Grace High School senior Kelly Slentz who received the Maryland State Department of Education Sherry Unger award in recognition of outstanding service to others. Ms. Slentz two years ago organized and has been the prime mover behind the Forton-Lee Memorial Scholarship Softball game that has raised $20,000 in two years for scholarships. The games, involving students and the fire and police departments of Havre de Grace, are dedicated to the memory of Ashley Forton and Willie Lee, both former classmates of Ms. Slentz', who died in separate automobile accidents in the 2003-04 school year. The accidents resulted from mistakes made by teenage drivers. Ms. Slentz has dedicated herself to raising awareness among teenage drivers of the consequences that could result from impulsive and unwise decisions while behind the wheel.


Sandy Krause thanked Joseph Licata and the Superintendent's Technical Advisory Committee for its recommendations during the previous week's Board work session to permit those next year's Fallston High School sophomores to stay at Fallston High rather than be redistricted to Bel Air High. She suggested the same grandfathering be done for next year's Fallston Middle School eighth graders ticketed to be redistricted to Bel Air Middle. She said the heating/air conditioning/ventilation replacement due to be done at that school will cause significant problems at the school.

Jennifer Handlin, representing the Harford County Council of PTAs, thanked Superintendent Jacqueline C. Haas and the Board for attending the November 16th HCCPTA Legislature Night during which elected officials and Board members met with PTA leaders. She said it helped "open lines of communications" between lawmakers, the school system, and the PTAs.


The Board of Education unanimously approved the motion of Past President R. Robin Rich and the second of Board Member Salina M. Williams to approve items listed on the Consent Agenda including Monthly Report on Personnel; Citizen Advisory Charges and Committee Member Changes, CAC Membership Appointments; Award of Contract, Architectural/Engineering Services for the Harford Technical High School Track/Football Field Complex; Extension of Board Meetings Being Televised on Cable Television; Reappointment of Dr. David F. Jaffe as Member of the Board's Ethics Panel; Award of Contract, Architectural/Engineering Services for a New Elementary School Capacity Project; Approval of General Legislative Platform; and Minutes from the September 11 Board Business Meeting, the September 18 Special Board Meeting, the September 18 Board Work Session, and the October 16 Board Work Session. Mr. Wolkow reported that an on-line survey had disclosed that 26 or 28 respondents recommended continuation of telecasts of Board Meetings and those who voted against the continuation said they did not have cable television service. Mr. Wolkow noted that the HAR-CO Federal Credit Union will continue sponsoring the telecasts and that no taxpayer money is being expended in the initiative.

Acting on the motion of Board Vice President Thomas L. Fidler, Jr. and the second of Ms. Rich, the Board voted unanimously to approve the Amended FY 08 HCPS Capital Improvement Program. Amendments included the placement of relocatable classrooms for 2007-08; the placement of a new elementary school on a 23-acre parcel owned by the Board off Vale Road north of Bel Air; revision of the budget for the expansion of Aberdeen High School; revision of the budget for the Joppatowne gymnasium addition; increase in funding for the replacement of Technology Education classrooms to meet program requirements as defined by the Maryland State Department of Education; the addition of $125,000 in the FY 08 capital budget for security cameras for the installation of proximity card devices at exterior doors used for access to portable classrooms; state participation in the movement of state owned portable units; and the addition of $3.4 million to the Patterson Mill Middle/High School project for materials of instruction, textbooks, and other start up costs. The overall FY 2008 capital request will be $58 million from the State and $80.9 million from the County governments.

Acting on the motion of Board Member Lee Merrell and the second of Board Member John L. Smilko, the Board voted unanimously to table consideration of the Superintendent's recommendations on revisions to the Policy and Procedures for Use of Public School Facilites by Outside Groups. Assistant Superintendent for Operations Joseph P. Licata told the Board the item is a carryover from two previous meetings. The chief issue is the length of time that commercial groups (including churches) can have to use school facilities before finding a facility of their own. The proposal would grant churches a maximum of five years to use school facilities. Mr. Merrell said a survey of churches showed three of eight respondents said they needed more than five years to be able to develop funds to build and operate their own facility. Dr. Haas said the proposal is an attempt to reach a middle ground between the three years that had been proposed by staff and the nine years that one or more churches have used school facilities.

Acting on the motion of Mr. Fidler and the second of Mr. Smilko, the Board voted unanimously to retain possession of the land at 45 E. Gordon Street in Bel Air, site of the former HCPS Central Office Administration Building. The Board tabled a decision on whether to surplus or retain the property in December 2005 and had staff and the Board had been reviewing proposals, mostly from the Town of Bel Air, for an alternate use of the building/property. During the discussion on the proposal at its November 27 meeting, the Board heard comments from Bel Air Town Administrator Christopher Schlehr, Maryanna Skoronski (reading a letter from historical architect Jeffrey K. Sawyer), Del. Susan McComas, local historian and John Carroll School history teacher James Chrismer, Scott Farley of the Bel Air Elementary PTA, historian and prime organizer of the successful effort to preserve the Hosanna School (former Freedmens School) in Darlington Christine Tolbert, and Bel Air Town Commissioner David Carey - all urging that the 45 E. Gordon Street former elementary school and office building not be demolished. HCPS Chief Administrative Officer Jay May reviewed the timeline of the recommendations to raze the building and the review that had been conducted during the almost one year the proposal had been tabled. He said no viable proposal had been made that would allow the school system to use the property for improvements to the adjacent Bel Air Elementary School parking, playgrounds, and bus loop while retaining the building. Mr. Licata said an engineering firm had developed a master plan for the property to be used for purposes that could include a future expansion of Bel Air Elementary School. Dr. Haas commended the community for caring about the building and for the Board's careful examination of the alternatives. She reminded the Board that its sole obligation is to determine if the school system has no current or anticipated need for the land/building. Its only choice is to retain or surplus the property, state law does not give the Board authority to sell, trade, or share use of a property. Dr. Haas said it is likely the land now occupied by the former central office center and parking lot will be needed in the future by Bel Air Elementary School. She said the option has been open from the beginning for interested parties to move the building from its current site.


Director of the Budget James Jewell presented the Board with the Quarterly Financial Report for the period ending September 30, 2006. Each quarter, the Board receives a financial report that is also distributed to the County Executive, County Council, and the Board's Audit Committee.

Executive Director of Secondary Education David A. Volrath and members of the Local Program Advisory Committee (PAC) for the Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences Magnet Program, proposed for North Harford High School, provided the Board with an update on that proposal. The group has been investigating career pathways based on occupational projections within the domain of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences. The PAC's vision is to provide students with essential knowledge, experience and opportunities for pursuing academic, vocational, and recreational futures in the management of natural resources and agriculture; and to develop future leaders, business owners, and advocates to support the growth of Maryland industries related to Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences. Mr. Volrath said current plans are for the magnet to begin operation at the modernized and expanded North Harford High School at the outset of the 2010-11 school year. The program would both prepare students to enter post secondary education in the fields of natural resources and/or agriculture; and prepare them for entry into the multi-faceted vocational fields related to those two areas immediately after graduation from high school. The Board directed the PAC to continue development of the magnet/career cluster programs. In addition to Coordinator of Magnet Programs Frank Mezzanotte and Supervisor of Science Dennis Kirkwood, the presentation also includes dairy farmer Dan Magness, horse breeding farm co-owner (and newly elected County Council President) Billy Boniface, and the County's Agricultural Representative in the Economic Development Office John Sullivan, along with George Mayo, executive director of the Maryland Agriculture Education Foundation located at Swan Harbor in Harford County.

Mr. Volrath was joined by Executive Director of Elementary Education Patricia Skebeck in presenting the Board with the school system's 2006 class size report. Both said there is little change in the overall class sizes compared to previous years.


Dr. Haas told the Board the Harford County Veterans Commission has requested the school system file an application for a Junior ROTC program. She said she and other members of her staff had met with Jr. ROTC officials who have told them the current emphasis is in establishing such programs in areas outside the eastern part of the country. Dr. Haas said the operating costs of such a program would have to be supported by the HCPS budget - including two full-time employees, two offices, computers and other equipment, and a double-size classroom. She said the school system does have schools interested in such a program but that they do not have space to accommodate it.

She said the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) has been reauthorized and the paperwork required has proven to be very demanding of teachers. Some Individual Education Plans (IEPs), she said, are 40 pages or longer. The Superintendent urged state officials not to exceed the federal requirements.

Dr. Haas talked about a movement in Georgia to assign "graduation coaches" to help improve graduation rates. She said the program could be part of the Comprehensive High School Reform initiative, but would require a person in every high school to develop the plan and work through its initiatives.

Dr. Haas said busing and walking zones for Patterson Mill have been approved and the HCPS Director of Transportation has requested a crossing guard for the area.

She added that she had attended a Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) conference in Atlanta, Georgia the previous week.


Mr. Wolkow thanked his fellow Board members for being supportive to him and his family during the recent loss of his father. He thanked Mr. Fidler for running the Board meeting that was held during his absence. Her also mentioned the recent meetings with elementary and secondary principals and thanked those who had helped coordinate them. Mr. Wolkow said he had attended a recent Maryland Association of Boards of Educations (MABE) meeting planning ways to improve relationships with the State Board in the coming year. He acknowledged having received letters of thanks from the Academy of Finance and Special Education Department. He noted the upcoming Board meetings and the scheduled meeting with Prospect Mill Elementary School parents scheduled for the following evening to discuss the proposal to move the school's fifth grade to Southampton Middle School beginning the following year to ease overcrowding at Prospect Mill.


With no further business to come before the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 9:05 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