2020 HoCo County Economic and Fiscal Outlook

During last night’s board meeting, Dr. Holly Sun from the County Government shared their Economic and Fiscal Outlook. Several key takeaways:

  1. recession is possible
  2. county revenue growth is slow (1.8% in 2017, 1.3% in 2018)
  3. APFO legislation may have a negative impact on the revenue
  4. During last two economic downturns, County revenue plunged by $35 million ($26-$43 million) on average
  5. County revenue: 49% from property tax, 41% from income tax
  6. County real property tax rate (1.014% general + 0.176% fire) is the 2nd highest in MD counties. For those living on CA, there is another 0.067% annual charge.
  7. County income tax rate (3.2%) is at the highest level in the State
  8. Howard County ranked 3nd among all 24 counties in Maryland for County spending per pupil for public schools. County spending per student totaled $10,321 per year, 41% higher than the State average of $7,323.
    • No.1. Worcester: $13,526 • No.2. Montgomery: $10,599 • No.3. Howard: $10,321
  9. A (Significant) Structural Gap Anticipated in Next 6 Yearscounty economical and fiscal outlook

Here is the document.

2020 HoCo Economic & Fiscal Outlook



2019 Two Important Space Missions

I am always fascinated and intrigued by space exploration. It will super cool to take a time machine or teleportation to explore a new world other than the earth such as in Star Trek.

  1. US New Horizon reaches new far https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/03/science/ultima-thule-pictures-new-horizons.html

Then I read BBC’s report on this, New York Times did not keep this science news away from political maneuver. It spread the wrong info to fit into its narrative. The People’s Daily has a front coverage on it. The following is from BBC report which is more objective.

3. China Moon mission lands Chang’e-4 spacecraft on far side


Last Call for Nominations for the 2019 Howard County Women’s Hall of Fame

Nomination deadline is 5:00 p.m. on January 2, 2019
Nominations are due January 2 for the 2019 Howard County Women’s Hall of Fame

Reminder! Nominations for the 2019 Howard County Women’s Hall of Fame are due by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, January 2, 2019. The Commission for Women will select up to five notable Howard County women; induction ceremonies will be held in March 2019. Nominate someone today!

For more information and to download a nomination form, visit www.howardcountymd.gov/CFW.


Superintendent’s Proposed FY 2020 Operating Budget Summary

Superintendent 2020 proposed budget 998.4 million


More details are located at https://www.hcpss.org/about-us/budgets/fy20/.

The Board is looking forward to your feedback.

The following is the scheduled meeting on the superintendent’s budget in January 2018.

January 15 – 7:00 p.m.

Public Hearing I on Superintendent’s Proposed Budget

January 17 – 1:00-5:00 p.m.

Board of Education Budget Public Work Session I on Superintendent’s Proposed Budget

  • Revenue
  • Operations
  • Communication, Community & Workforce Engagement

January 22 – 1:00-5:00 p.m.

Board of Education Budget Public Work Session II on Superintendent’s Proposed Budget

  • Human Resources & Leadership Development
  • School Management & Instructional Leadership
  • Academics
  • Academics – Curriculum and Instruction

January 29 – 1:00-5:00 p.m.

Board of Education Budget Public Work Session III on Superintendent’s Proposed Budget

  • Academics – Curriculum and Instruction (continued if necessary)
  • Academics – Program Innovation and Student Well-being

January 29 – 7:00 p.m.

Public Hearing II on Superintendent’s Proposed Budget

January 31 – 1:00-5:00 p.m.

Board of Education Budget Public Work Session IV on Superintendent’s Proposed Budget

  • Academics – Special Education
  • Executive
  • Business & Technology
  • Other Funds
  • Capital
  • Unresolved issues and tentative budget decisions

Wisdom of The Day (1)

There are many Chinese/Asian wisdoms I would like to share. For now on, I would like to share some wisdoms frequently. These wisdoms usually came with a true story dated many years ago and influenced my thinking when I grew up. I really love to draw a picture for each one and make a comic book based on this. If somebody would like to help, that will be great. We can make a great Children book.

The first wisdom comes from my colleague who began to learn Chinese in college and had a roommate from China in the graduate school. He thinks this is a fun wisdom when I asked him what is his favorite. I actually was surprised by his choice. This types of wisdom is called 成语, Cheng Yu, idiom or proverb.


  1. In English: sandpiper and clam fight each other; neighbors who can’t agree lose out to a third party
  2. In Chinese: 鹬蚌相争,渔翁得利

There is a great website explaining the story and the origin of the quote very well: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/鷸蚌相爭,漁人得利

When Zhao was about to attack Yan, Su Dai spoke to King Hui of Zhao on behalf of the king of Yan. He said, “On my way here today, as I crossed the Yi River, I spotted an oyster that had opened its shell to sun itself. Just then, a snipe began to peck at the flesh inside its shell. The oyster closed its shell on the beak of the snipe so that it could not get away.

The snipe said, “It is not raining today, nor will it rain tomorrow. You shall die, Oyster.”

To which the oyster replied, “You shall not escape my grip today, nor shall you escape it tomorrow. It is you who will die (of hunger), Snipe.” Neither side would yield, at which point, a fisherman came by and snatched them both into his net.

Today, Zhao is on the verge of attacking Yan. Yan and Zhao have been at odds for a long time, and have caused their people to suffer. I am afraid that the fisherman in this case will be the mighty Qin. For this reason, I hope that your highness will give the matter your mature consideration. King Hui said, “ok fine” and called off the attack. (Wiktionary translation)

There is a youtube video:


It is a kind of mutual destruction by not thinking in other people’s shoes.

Religion Debate

There are debates among different religions which still prevail in today’s word. There is a great website talking about the debate between Daoism and Confucianism. Very interesting discussion.

Extracted from https://www.iep.utm.edu/daoism/

8. Daoism and Confucianism

Arguably, Daoism shared some emphases with classical Confucianism such as a this-worldly concern for the concrete details of life rather than speculation about abstractions and ideals. Nevertheless, it largely represented an alternative and critical tradition divergent from that of Confucius and his followers. While many of these criticisms are subtle, some seem very clear.

One of the most fundamental teachings of the DDJ is that human discriminations, such as those made in law, morality (good, bad) and aesthetics (beauty, ugly) actually create the troubles and problems  humans experience, they do not solve them (ch. 3a). The clear implication is that the person following the dao must cease ordering his life according to human-made distinctions (ch. 19). Indeed, it is only when the dao recedes in its influence that these demarcations emerge (chs. 18; 38), because they are a form of disease (ch. 74). In contrast, Daoists believe that the dao is untangling the knots of life, blunting the sharp edges of relationships and problems, and turning down the light on painful occurrences (ch. 4). So, it is best to practice wu-wei in all endeavors, to act naturally and not willfully try to oppose or tamper with how reality is moving or try to control it by human discriminations..

Confucius and his followers wanted to change the world and be proactive in setting things straight. They wanted to tamper, orchestrate, plan, educate, develop, and propose solutions. Daoists, on the other hand, take their hands off of life when Confucians want their fingerprints on everything. Imagine this comparison. If the Daoist goal is to become like a piece of unhewn and natural wood, the goal of the Confucians is to become a carved sculpture. The Daoists put the piece before us just as it is found in its naturalness, and the Confucians polish it, shape it, and decorate it. This line of criticism is made very explicitly in the essay which makes up Zhuangzi Chs. 8-10.

Confucians think they can engineer reality, understand it, name it, control it. But the Daoists think that such endeavors are the source of our frustration and fragmentation (DDJ, chs. 57, 72). They believe the Confucians create a gulf between humans and nature that weakens and destroys us. Indeed, as far as the Daoists are concerned, the Confucian project is like a cancer that saps our very life. This is a fundamental difference in how these two great philosophical traditions think persons should approach life, and as shown above it is a consistent difference found also between the Zhuangzi and Confucianism.

Superintendent Presents Proposed 2019–2020 total $998.4 millions Operating Budget

December 19, 2018

Superintendent Presents Proposed 2019–2020 Operating Budget
Proposal adds 545 staff to serve enrollment growth and student needs including special education and mental health

Ellicott City, Maryland — Superintendent Michael J. Martirano presented his proposed budget for the Howard County Public School System fiscal year 2019–2020 (FY 2020) during a presentation to the Board of Education on Tuesday, December 18.

"Over the last 19 months, we have moved the system from a state of chaos, through a process of re-stabilization, to the point where we can now articulate our true needs," said Martirano. "This proposal serves as a roadmap that links the objectives and strategies laid out in our Strategic Call to Action to the investments and actions that will bring our strategic vision to life in our schools and for students."

The budget proposal–Martirano’s first since becoming permanent Superintendent–totals $998.4 million and represents an increase of $136.1 million, or 15.8 percent, over the FY 2019 budget. Of the total, $722.9 million is requested from the County, an increase of $122.9 million that includes $10.8 million for Maintenance of Effort, $95.3 million to invest in educators and students, $7.9 million for programs that support the community, and a one-time request of $27.0 million to eliminate the Health Fund deficit.

"This budget represents a significant financial commitment, but the stark reality is a growing gap between Maintenance of Effort funding, and a level of funding that is realistic to provide the instructional quality and supports that our children need and our community expects," Martirano stated.

He noted progress in addressing a structural deficit in the employee Health Fund, which accumulated over several years and had been projected to reach $50.5 million during the 2017-2018 school year. The school system fully funded the Health Fund for the current fiscal year for the first time in several years, and through ongoing measures to contain expenses and improve efficiencies, has reduced the outstanding deficit by $13 million to a $37 million balance. Recently, additional savings were identified that will allow a further reduction to $27 million in FY 2020.

The budget provides for new positions and educational supplies to support the expected enrollment growth of approximately 850 students. Howard County is among Maryland’s fastest-growing counties, and HCPSS expects that significant annual enrollment growth will continue for the next several years.

The proposal also targets investments to fulfill the goals and objectives of the school system’s Strategic Call to Action: Learning and Leading with Equity, with funding for additional staffing and services to meet the needs of some of the system’s most vulnerable students. New positions allocated for special education will provide for enrollment growth and increased numbers of students identified as needing special education services or those who are served in home or community settings. Additional positions are allocated to align special education staffing levels to current formulas and provide for more intensive student needs. "HCPSS is committed to providing the best possible education to students receiving special education services, and this budget reflects our full commitment," Martirano noted.

Funding is also allocated to improve services and supports for students challenged by mental health and social-behavioral issues and those affected by poverty, language barriers and other factors that can interfere with learning and well-being. "We must break down the barriers that stand in the way of achievement," said Martirano. "By targeting our efforts on meeting the needs of the underserved, we will find that achievement levels will take care of themselves."

Other priorities identified in the proposal relate to the system’s focus on building a culture that embraces diversity, equity and inclusion, with new positions to support the use of restorative practices and to address discipline disproportionality.

The budget also provides funding to expand innovative career preparation pathways such as dual enrollment, career academy, and pre-apprenticeships programs; upgrading technologies in classrooms, schools and offices; replacing or upgrading essential building services and grounds equipment, and restoring funds for long-deferred maintenance projects. "We cannot afford to postpone these investments further without seriously compromising student and staff well-being and the quality of our learning environments," Martirano stated.

The complete budget proposal, Martirano’s budget presentation and additional information are available online at www.hcpss.org/budgets.

The Board will hold public hearings on the proposed budget at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, January 15 and Tuesday, January 29. Work sessions will be held on January 17, 22, 29 and 31, all scheduled to begin 1 p.m.

The Board is scheduled to adopt its budget request on Tuesday, February 12 at 3 p.m., and to approve the final FY 2020 Operating and Capital Budgets and FY 2021–2025 Capital Improvement Program on Thursday, May 30 at 9 a.m. All hearings, work sessions and meetings will be held at the Department of Education, 10910 Clarksville Pike, Ellicott City.

My BOE cluster and committee assignment for 2019

I will sit in the BOE Audit Committee, Community Advisory Committee, Maryland Association of Board of Education Nomination Committee.

My cluster is Mount Hebron and River Hill. I am getting their PTA contact and plan to attend at least one meeting in each school in the following year.

F – Mount Hebron/River Hill (Chao Wu)

  • Mount Hebron HS
    • Dunloggin MS
    • Patapsco MS
      • Hollifield Station ES
      • Northfield ES
      • Saint John’s Lane ES
  • River Hill HS
    • Clarksville MS
    • Folly Quarter MS
      • Clarksville ES
      • Dayton Oaks ES
      • Triadelphia Ridge ES

Presentation of the Superintendent’s Proposed FY 2020 Operating Budget, December 18, 2018

December 11, 2018

Presentation of the Superintendent’s Proposed FY 2020 Operating Budget, December 18, 2018

Ellicott City, Maryland — Superintendent Michael J. Martirano will present his proposed operating budget for the 2019-2020 school year, during the evening session of the Howard County Board of Education meeting on Tuesday, December 18, 2018.

WHO: Superintendent Michael J. Martirano

WHAT: Presentation of the Superintendent’s FY 2020 Operating Budget Proposal

WHEN: Tuesday, December 18, 2018, 7 p.m.

WHERE: Board Room, Department of Education, 10910 Clarksville Pike, Ellicott City MD 21042

Board meetings may be viewed live or on-demand online, and during and after each meeting on Comcast channel 95 or Verizon channel 42.

Swear-in speech on 2018-12-3

Chao Wu Swear-in Speech


It is my great honor and pleasure to be a new board member of Howard County Board of Education.

I first would like to thank my family here, my wife, my daughter and my son. Without their support, I would not be able to volunteer at all in the community many years ago. When I first served on the River Hill Village Board, my daughter was 2 years old and my son was not born yet. It is my wife who really managed everything well and smoothly. I own every thanks to her.

I am speaking in Chinese for a few seconds. 我非常感谢我的家庭,我的太太,女儿和儿子。我开始在社区做志愿者活动的时候,我女儿才两岁左右,我儿子还没有出生。是我老婆在家里忙上忙下,使得今天的一切才成为可能。我感谢她为这个家庭所作出的牺牲和努力。十八年前,我和她在中国合肥相识,现在我们两个人远离故土,这个美丽的哈维郡安家乐业,希望我们彼此支持,携手向前。

I would like to thank my campaign team and my volunteer team. It is their strongest support which made today possible.  They believed in me and usually dragged in their whole family (their children and their parents) to support my campaign, whether in the sunshine or in the pouring rain. They helped dropping the literature and greeting voters. They helped organizing greet and meet. They helped funding my event, donating money to my campaign. They sent me many great advices. They put a yard sign in front of their house. Or they simply showed up in my event. Majority of them had never done this before. It was their first time really devoted to a campaign activity because we all believe great education is the bridge to success for our younger generation.

Eventually every little support helped. We won number 4 out of 13 candidates in the primary election in June. We won the second place out of 8 eight candidates in the general election in November.  I am so proud of you and you should also be very proud of yourself. We should be proud of ourselves. We set a goal, worked really hard and made it.  It is a victory for all of us.

Finally I would like to thank our voters who casted their votes for me. No endorsement is better than our voters’ trust. As an independent candidate and non-partisan election, I received 54,254 votes from our voters in our county. You believed in my vision for the school system. and you listened to my personal stories.  Thank you for your trust.

In the following four years, I am looking forward to working with all other board members, teachers, school staff, our students, parents and other stakeholders. We would try our best to provide quality education for all our students.  Keep an open mind, improve the decision and communication process and seek a command ground for common sense solutions for our school system.

Thank you very much.




School overcrowding, APFO and development impact fee

“How successful are Maryland Counties in preventing school overcrowding” is a report  created by Richard D. Klein of COMMUNITY & ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENSE SERVICES. I communicated with Richard on some other issues while I served on the CA board. He is really a great resource.

Here is the 42 pages report School Overcrowding Problem in Maryland Counties

Right now, Delegate Vanessa Atterbeary proposed a bill to increase the development impact fee (Ho. Co. 3–19). I totally support it and I hope you are supporting it and testifying  ( or writing mails, making phone calls) to support it. When I testified two weeks ago in County Council main meeting room, I said this bill was long overdue and it should be proposed by our delegates at least 10 years ago.  However, developer’s money is a nice cake for political campaign and this fee was arbitrarily set at $1 per square foot and was never revised at all for so many years.

I applauded Delegate Atterbeary’s bold move. I support the $8 per square foot based on many readings. Let’s do it.


2018 HCPSS ESSA report card

The purpose of this memorandum is to provide you with an embargoed summary of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) report card data.

HCPSS schools received a state star rating ranging from three to five stars with 29 schools at five stars, 38 schools at four stars, and 6 schools at three stars. Detailed breakdowns of the points earned by each school will be available after the state release on mdreportcard.org.

Attached are tables, organized by school level, that summarize the overall rating of each school. Small changes in percentile ranks, star ratings or percentages of points earned, could occur as MSDE finalizes the data. The link is http://reportcard.msde.maryland.gov/

elementary school ESSA report card p1.PNG

elementary school ESSA report card p2

middle school ESSA report card

high school ESSA report card

2018 QuHacks- Hackathon for High/Middle School Students

QuHacks 2018 – hackathon for high school and middle school students

(This message is copied from Howard County Chinese School mailing list)

Time: Saturday, December 8th, 2018 
          9:00am – 6:00pm
Location: Towson University, YR Building
                7800 York Road, Towson, MD

QuHacks is a coding competition run by some Howard County high school students.

Are you a high school or middle school student interested in programming? Do you want to learn something new? Come and compete at QuHacks 2018. No experience necessary!  You can compete in either the Novice or the Advanced divisions, or just attend the Java, Python, and Web Development workshops. Sign up at QuHacks ’18 Sign Ups

Prizes, swag, and raffle items will be available for both divisions. Please feel free to listen in to facebook (@QuHacks), Instagram (@quhacks), or website (http://quhacks.tech/) for any updates!

Science In Society Conference at River Hill High School on 2018-12-3

Conference Registration

The Science In Society conference will take place on December 3rd, 2018 from 6 – 9 PM at River Hill High School (12101 Clarksville Pike, Clarksville MD 21029). It aims to expose high school students to the applications of a STEM-based education as well as the various internship opportunities offered by well-known organizations (NIH, NSA, JHU, UMD). The format includes a keynote presentation, 2 workshop sessions, and a booths fair. You can register for the conference through this form, but note that it will close on November 29th and will be limited to the first 300 entries. Workshop selections are first come first serve.