School Board Primer

I think this primer is helpful for understanding the basic structure of school board.

What is a school board’s most important responsibility?

The most important responsibility of school boards is to work with their communities to improve student achievement in their local public schools. School boards derive their power and authority from the state. In compliance with state and federal laws, school boards establish policies and regulations by which their local schools are governed.

Your school board is responsible for:

  • employing the superintendent
  • developing and adopting policies, curriculum, and the budget;
  • overseeing facilities issues; and
  • adopting collective bargaining agreements.

– See more at:

What makes a school board effective?

Effective School Boards:

  1. Commit to a vision of high expectations for student achievement.
  2. Have strong shared beliefs and values about students’ ability to learn and of the system and its ability to teach all children at high levels.
  3. Are accountability driven.
  4. Have a collaborative relationship with staff and the community.
  5. Are data-savvy.
  6. Align and sustain resources to meet district goals.
  7. Lead as a united team with the superintendent.
  8. Take part in team development and training.

– See more at:

I believe I can be an effective school board member. 🙂

Extremely Low HCPSS School Bus Utilization Rate for one school

The average ridership per bus is 24.32% on 10 school buses for a specif school. This is the rate I computed from data that some parents shared with me. The data was collected by bus drivers. Assuming the bus is a 72-seat bus. So I can see there is a potential and need to increase our school bus utilization rate. This can partially address the later high school start time initiative which I strong support.

A school by school bus utilizatiom rate will be more helpful. I will request those data from HCPSS and have a look.

school bus ridership rate

CA board meeting summary 2017-05-25

Resident speakout:

Paul Verchinski, Oakland Mill, DC metroplex, oakland mill village board, BWI Roundtable, BWI airplane noise issue because of next-gen implementation. Asking for CA endorsement to send a letter for mitigate the noise issue. People wake up at 5:00 AM because of that, the noise last until midnight. More than 10 metro-cities are suing the FAA.

It seems this airplane noise is the next problem after Merriweather Post Noise hang there for several years.

Allan Feinstein, disabled man, falling three times at swimming center. Columbia gym is much better. Mats are needed at the Swimming Center. Handicap accessible bathroom is needed. Mold in Swimming Center. New swimming center park lot has only four handicapped parking space. His falls was not documented after his report.

Nina Basu: Long Reach board chair, their board voted to support the County’s Long Reach Village Development Plan.


  1. Presentation on Planning for Columbia’s Lakefront, from Groundswell Design Group.
  2. The board experienced live video-streaming of board meeting. It will go online on June 22.

Board Action:

  1. Purchase exception – Graphic design services and production-Columbia Gym, Athletic Club and Supreme Sports Club
  2. Endorse CA President’s letter to DPZ to support Long Reach Village Center urban renewal proposal from Orchard Development










Seeking Common Ground

I attended the C-100 (Committee of 100) Annual Conference 2017 as the next generation leader last week.  I know C-100 for a long time since it is often quoted both in US and China’s media for its great contribution to bridge US and China, especially during difficult times.  I strongly agree with C-100’s mission. However, I feel it is somewhat detached from the first generation Chinese immigration community.   The website is :

C-100 background:

The Committee of 100 is a membership organization of Chinese Americans dedicated to the spirit of excellence and achievement in America.

Current members include I.M. Pei, master architect; Yo-Yo Ma, renowned cellist; Steve Chen, co-founder of YouTube; Leroy Chiao, NASA Astronaut; David Ho, AIDS researcher and 1996 Time Man of the Year; and Michelle Kwan, figure skating champion. Membership to the Committee of 100 is by invitation.

The Committee of 100 is registered as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit headquartered in New York City, and has active regional chapters in Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Beijing.

C-100 mission:

The Committee’s purpose is to provide leadership and act as a constructive force in the dual mission of:

  • Promoting the full participation of all Chinese Americans in American society and acting as a public policy resource for the Chinese-American community
  • Promoting constructive dialogue and relationships between the peoples and leaders of the United States and Greater China.

Here is the picture for the opening ceremony.

Chrysalis Rental Pricing Structure

The CA board got the document from Inner Arbor Trust about the Chrysalis Rental Rates and terms.  For non 501(c)(3) entities, $320/hour and $1280 minimum rental; or $250/hour, $1000 minimum for 501(c) 3 entities.

Using Merriweather park at Symphony woods has a different pricing. See pictures below.

Chrysalis rental pricing p1

Chrysalis rental pricing p2

Chrysalis rental pricing p3

Chrysalis rental pricing p4

This was taken at 25th Wine in The Woods event. It was a great event.

2017 CA’s scholarship award to high school students are out

Columbia Association awards $2,500 scholarships to six community service-minded seniors

I have the pleasure to work with one award recipient Jennifer Zhang who is our student board member. She has done a lot to promote healthy and happy life, volunteering and fun for young kids. She is a truly amazing young lady with bright future. Thanks a lot for her contribution. 
Columbia Association (CA) is proud to announce and recognize the recipients of the Maggie J. Brown Spirit of Columbia Scholarship Award, a $2,500 scholarship awarded to six graduating high school seniors who have shown extraordinary dedication to performing community service. They are:

Jacob Lampf, from Atholton High School, is an intern with the Howard County Executive Office who conducted interviews and outreach for the Humans of #OneHoward initiative. The initiative promotes community dialogue and reinforces the county’s shared goals of diversity and inclusiveness through a series of community conversations and educational events. Lampf has also served for two years as a student voice on the Howard County Health Council. He participated in the Leadership U Howard County program, working with a group of his peers to assemble and distribute Welcome Home Baskets to veterans who had recently moved to Columbia. Lampf will attend Indiana University in the fall.

Kaitlin Landfried, from Hammond High School, is a graduate of the Leadership U Howard County program whose team project involved creating a “safe space” social and networking event for LGBT teens. Landfried’s passion for making Columbia a better place for LGBT individuals has continued on through volunteering at events that serve the LGBT community. She also volunteered for the Image-In Clothing Giveaway, which was sponsored by TransAAction Maryland and supported by PFLAG Columbia-Howard County. Landfried will attend University of Maryland, Baltimore County in the fall.

Cire Nicholson, from Oakland Mills High School, volunteered with Allied Soccer, a varsity sport for teens with disabilities. Nicholson noticed that some of her peers were mean to those students, and so she became their advocate. As a peer assistant, she worked closely with the students on the field during practices and attended all of their games. Nicholson also is a peer assistant at the National Family Resiliency Center in Columbia, sharing her experience as the child of a divorced family in order to help others. She served in a leadership role, guiding group discussions and making sure everyone in the group stayed engaged and participated. Nicholson will attend North Carolina A&T State University in the fall.

Olatokunbo Olaniyan, from Glenelg Country School, created a nonprofit organization, Hope for Sickle Cell, to increase awareness of sickle cell disease. Olaniyan was just 4 years old when she lost her mother to sickle cell disease. Olaniyan also created a website,, to spread awareness, and made a presentation to Congress advocating for research funding. In addition, she participated alongside her peers in Rebuilding Together Howard County, taking a lead role in organizing the rebuilding of an elderly couple’s home in Columbia. Olaniyan will attend Washington University in the fall.

Aaron Park, from Long Reach High School, applied his passion for plants and horticulture by helping his community garden association. Park has been involved with sustainable gardening for the past 11 years. He shared his ideas about natural pesticides, irrigation techniques, conservationism and genetic preservation with his fellow gardeners. Park also recently completed a successful heirloom tomato fundraiser that gave many gardeners rare, organic and healthy plants to grow. He has a passion for music and has performed regularly for years at his church. Park will attend University of North Carolina in the fall.

Jennifer Zhang, from River Hill High School, has served since her freshman year on the River Hill Teen Advisory Committee, including two years as the committee’s chair and the student member of the River Hill Village Board. Among Zhang’s responsibilities was promoting the volunteer and community spirit of River Hill, encouraging teen involvement. She also has been a member of Angel’s Network, the oldest community service club at River Hill High School. In 2016, she was the youth recipient of the Governor’s Service Award, recognized for outstanding community service and contributions to the state of Maryland. Zhang will attend University of Pennsylvania in the fall.
About Columbia Association


Columbia Association (CA) is a nonprofit community services corporation that manages Columbia, Maryland, a planned community that is home to approximately 100,000 people and several thousand businesses — and was named the No. 1 small city to live in by Money Magazine in 2016. Additional information about CA is available at


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Seeking Teens for River Hill Association Committees

River Hill Community Association is currently seeking high school students interested in serving on the association’s Student Member of the Board of Directors and the Teen Advisory Committee (TAC). Both committees provide opportunities for teens to learn more about our community, interact with a variety of residents, develop leadership skills, and build on individual interests and strengths while having fun.

The committee is crucial to the success of many of the association-sponsored events including Halloween, Breakfast with Santa, and Independence Day Parade. This year, the TAC organized the very popular Claret Hall Cook-Off.

Applications for youth interested in serving for the
September 1, 2017-August 31, 2018 term are available at Claret Hall and also on the association’s website at

The Village Board will appoint members of both committees following an application and interview process.

The deadline for applications is May 31, 2017.

For more information, contact the Village Manager, Susan Smith, at 410-531-1749 or at