HoCo development mystery

I talked about Howard County development mystery before. One tiny example is that developers provide their own traffic study to mitigate traffic problem. Then almost all traffic study is green-lighted. In my view, the County should charge a fee and hire an independent third party to conduct traffic study. In that way, the study is more objective. How do we think a developer paid traffic study can be impartial?

Here is another article on today’s Columbia Flier: developer’s donations should be branded as conflict of interests.

We can do better

The is the comment I gave before the HCPSS BOE public hearing on the redistricting on September 26, 2019. It was revised a little bit.

One lady who supported the superintendent’s plan shouted to an Asian American father, in front of his two young children: “go back to Asia” on this Tuesday evening outside this building. It is so sad to see what is happening now. I feel so sorry for the family.  

This kind of racist comment is hurting the community. It has been more than 10 years ago when I was shouted “go back to China” in Montgomery County by little school age kids. I have not heard that for many, many years.  Now the same “go back to Asia” fell on my neighbor in Howard County in front of his young children. This is totally NOT acceptable.

There are other very offensive comments from the opposing side too which should not be tolerated. Let’s respect each other.

Let’s focus on the real issue here. Many schools are over-crowded. High School 13 is scheduled to come online in 2023. As the superintendent Dr. Martirano always says: all Howard County schools are great schools. However, there are still some performance differences across the board. The school system needs to find a correct, efficient and pragmatic way to address this. Unfortunately, the superintendent’s redistricting proposal has led to community pitting against each other, where division and resentment are the worst part we don’t want to see.

Everybody supports diversity, equity and inclusion. However, there are different point of views and various approaches to address the same issue that we are facing. Because we are diverse, we will have different point of views. I wish everybody understand and share this very basic philosophy and we should not expect we have a homogenous opinion.

However, how to treat the diversity as an asset, instead of creating more division, inciting anger or excitement will be a challenging task for all involved.

We will shoot ourselves on the foot if we rush to create a solution. Let’s calm down, take a step back and minimize the school redistricting impact upon on our children and community. For the good of our community, let’s take it very cautiously and seriously.

We can do better. I believe Howard County residents have the courage and intelligence to find a better solution.

Asian Americans will not go back, neither African Americans, white Americans, Latino Americans, nor any Americans on this free land. Instead, we should unite. Everyone of this county should try our best, devote our energy, work and build a better school system together.

Thanks for everybody here tonight.

Transportation cost for the superintendent’s redistricting proposal

People keep asking for this number. Here is what we received this morning:

The transportation cost for superintendent’s redistricting proposal is around 2.76 million dollars, if rising seniors and juniors are exempted and all of them take the exemptions. In policy, only rising seniors are granted exemption, but the board in general grants exemptions to our rising juniors.

Rising 5th graders or 8th graders with siblings are the other two groups who may be exempted in the past discussion. Because we want to keep siblings in the same school when redistricting happens.

Considering the budget constraint the school is facing in FY 2021, the more students are moved, the high this transportation cost will be.

Because of tight budget, we will pay a lot of attention on these numbers. Just give a perspective:

  • A paraeducator costs around 27k-30k a year,
  • an entry teacher costs around 60k a year with benefit.
  • A school bus costs 67k a year.

Public testimony to support Council Bill 42-2019

Public testimony to support County Council Bill 42-2019

September 18, 2019

My name is Chao Wu, a board member of Howard County Board Education. My colleage already testified on behalf of the board. Here I am testifying as a general citizen.

I applaud our council members Yung, Rigby introducing this bill and Jones and Walsh co-sponsoring it. I also thank state delegate Vanessa Atterbery to lead and enable this bill in the state. I want to thank many community volunteers who have been advocating on this bill.

This is a long over-due bill that the county is waiting for. Our school system is facing a deep crisis, both in the operating budget and capital budget. We should all work together to address them little by little.

In the operating budget side, for FY 2021, we need extra 60 million dollars on top of  FY 2020 approved budget to meet our obligations and another 37 million dollars to pay back the health care fund deficit. Without that, we will continue the same pain as last fiscal year in this May.  We had to surplus teachers, cut programs and find ways to save every penny to balance the school budget.

In the capital budget side, overcrowded schools, widely deployed portable classrooms, all of them need money to repair or replace. We want to make sure High School 13 will be built on time. We want to make sure Talbott Springs Elementary School replacement and Hammond High School renovation will be back on the agenda as soon as possible. We also need another high school in Elkridge, HS 14, to balance our capacity. We need another Turf Valley elementary school to deal with fast student growth there. We also need renovate St John’s Lane Elementary School, one of the oldest schools.

Our school system mostly depends on local funds. With the proposed increase of the development impact fee, the county is expecting $150 million additional funds over the next 10 years. We wish we will begin to receive another extra 15 million dollars per year, starting next year to start our delayed capital projects.

Despite these huge difficulties we are facing, I am deeply appreciative of our teachers, staff and management team in the school. They are working together and help each student. Every light is on, even the room temperature is one degree colder or warmer, not so comfortable, to reduce school energy cost.

Please pass this bill. Thanks.

 

Some history on 2019 HCPSS AAC

A lot of people asked me questions related to Area Attendance Committee(AAC). Here is the link https://www.hcpss.org/school-planning/boundary-review/faq/#aac.

2019 AAC Committee members were: Heidi Abdelhady, Bessie Bordenave, Justin Carguilo (student), Frank Eastham, Willie Flowers, Hector Garcia, Paige Getty, Quiana Holmes, Steven Hunt, Suleman Malik, Leonardo McClarty, Susan Otradovec, Lisa Schlossnagle, Larry Walker.

I originally want to wait until the work session to comment anything related to the redistricting process. As more details of the committee are shared, I would like to provide some historical background to provide some historical background and clarify some issues. Whether I agree with some of their viewpoints or not, I would first like to thank AAC members. They are community volunteers who are devoting their time to help the process.  It is not an easy job.

In 2017, the AAC members were recruited through an application/interview process. I, as a general residents at that time, applied for it and was interviewed. But I was rejected to serve in that year’s AAC. Then the superintendent chose around 10 people from that interviewing process to sit in the committee.

However, during the 2017 AAC session, AAC committee members had the authority to move polygons around and recommend their findings to the superintendent. Unfortunately some AAC committee members were personally attacked for how certain polygons were moved around.

Many board members feel that AAC members are shouldering too much burden for their volunteer work .  So in early 2019, the board changed the rule such that the superintendent will directly appoint AAC members and AAC members will not be able to actually move polygons.  Instead they serve in a policy advisory role only. Under the new policy, the AAC committee is under the superintendent’s direct leadership with the help from school staff. I want to clarify that there was no conspiracy anywhere when the board decided to move into this direction for AAC.

However, I do not think the current AAC is diverse enough to represent the whole school community.

Unfortunately there were some controversy revealed recently. One AAC committee member’s comments are totally unacceptable in my opinion. As a committee tasked to advise the superintendent, the aim should be to help all students to succeed. No kids should suffer. Let’s try our best to ignore those comments and not amplify it.

The policy may be revised if needed, considering we will have another redistricting discussion in 2022 to prepare HS 13 opening in 2023.

 

 

FARM rate across Howard County

The average FARM rate across HCPSS is around 22.5%. FARM stands for free and reduced meal. For a family of 2 parents and 2 kids, if they do not make 47k year, they qualify for FARM and will receive assistance (https://www.hcpss.org/food-services/farms/). Here we have a color plot to visualize this. Dark color means low FARM rate. Please see the legend.

Screen Shot 2019-09-08 at 12.36.08 AM

 

The PDF file has really high resolution.

BoE – HoCo ES Percent FARMs Map v2 (PolyNums)

The plot is based on the public data shared on HCPSS website (https://www.hcpss.org/school-planning/boundary-review/) and I am attaching it here.

data-farm-test-suppressed (1)

or https://www.hcpss.org/f/schoolplanning/2019/data-farm-test-suppressed.xlsx?b

Disclaimer: I could not reproduce this plot myself because I don’t have a GIS software yet.

Superintendent’s proposal for High School 13 boundary

Finally I received the polygon numbers for High School 13 from Office of School Planning. There are two defined areas:

  1.  high probability polygon (yellow color)
  2. moderate probability polygons ( dark green color)

A community volunteer, named SP, helped me plot the map:

HS 13 on focus

Screen Shot 2019-09-06 at 3.31.37 PM

Large map:

Screen Shot 2019-09-06 at 3.32.00 PM

High Resolution Map:

BoE – HoCo HS13 Impact Map Colors

Student Population using this boundary

I calculated the student population based on the polygon numbers proposed by the Office of School Planning for the following 5 years, including 2018-2019 year.

High School Level

HS 13 student number

With this proposed boundary, we have extra 1400 students over the capacity when the school opens in 2023. So there is a lot of work to do to narrow down the boundary. We need avoid moving students multiple times.

Middle School Student Number within this boundary

Middle school student number

Elementary School Student Number within this boundary

elementary student number

Data available for download

HS13_Polygons

HCPSS-Student-Number-by-Polygon

How do you like it? Looking forward to your feedback at redistricting@hcpss.org or chaowu2016@gmail.com. 

 

Participating in HCPSS 2020 Redistricting Process

The superintendent’s proposal for 2020 redistricting has come out on August 22, 2019. I am hearing some are saying this is not bold enough and more people saying their children will be negatively impacted.

I have been contacted by many people. I talked to many people. I also met many people. I am writing down almost all polygon numbers.  I read every email. As long as my time permits and you represent a large group of parents/students, I would love to talk, even meet your group.

I wrote a software program in Python to analyze the polygon move in the high school level and its ramification through each move. I don’t have many data as OSP, but the public shared data already helps me a lot. A move in one direction will affect many in other directions.

I strongly suggest every one shares your feedback (redistricting@hcpss.org) on the superintendent’s plan, the feasibility study plan and even your own big/little plan. Following policy 6010, make your case, for example,

  1. students being moved multiple times,
  2. feeder system improvement,
  3. a highway or natural boundary separating the community,
  4. HS 13 boundary map,
  5. a continuous community being split,
  6. an alternative and good FARM rate reduction approach/move,
  7. a better demographic diversity improvement approach
  8. a detailed resource to help disadvantaged students,
  9. evaluation on transportation route, time and cost (check https://chaowu.org/2019/08/28/hcpss-fy-2021-budget-ahead/  for our school obligation in 2021),
  10. unintended consequence of some polygon moves,
  11. new housing development plan affecting in the capacity soon,
  12. etc.

Please remember : don’t say bad words of other schools or communities. That will not advance your advocacy.  Please note: all public and written testimonies will be public online for many years in the future and everybody will be able to read them.  So try not to include your private information there.

Furthermore, what is your thought on future redistricting plan (we will discuss it in 2022 if HS 13 construction is done in 2023 ) based on the current direction on capacity and equity from our superintendent?

HCPSS FY 2021 budget ahead

This was posted on my facebook.  I think I should post it here too. The post was updated on September 10, 2020 based on staff info.

Many people asked me on school budget. Here are numbers(estimated). We will get better estimate during budget work session on 4:00-6:00PM September 10, 2019.

The school needs balance its’ budget such that we spend what we have.

For Fiscal Year 2021, starting from the beginning, we need extra 12 million for operating budget which is from this year deficit (we are funding some operating budget this year with one time funding), 10-11 million due to extra student growth(800 students*15000 per year=12 million), 25-28 million for teacher and staff salary increase (negotiated 4% as last year, not approved yet), 7-8 million dollar health care cost increase. 

Furthermore, health care fund still has that 37 millions deficit hanging there. This 37 million dollars maybe go up/down. We will get an update on this number by the end of September 2019.

So in total, we need extra 59 million for operating budget, one time 37 million to pay down health care deficit. So the total is around 96 million dollars at least.

Other obligations that we know will have a budget impact but do not have estimates at the this time:

  • Transportation contract costs(no-redistricting related)
  • Dual enrollment FARMS tuition increase
  • Non-public placement
  • Insurance/Risk management
  • Special Education

 

Thinking about during this year’s budget discussion, we were looking at saving 10,000 here and there. We are not sure how the economy will turn out in the next 12 months. We are also not sure how much the county and state would love to fund HCPSS.

We have a really tough, tough 2021 budget in front of us. I love to hear your ideas how to balance the budget.

Screen Shot 2019-08-28 at 12.54.05 PM

High School 13 school boundary

While I am waiting for the school staff to send the board the detailed possible boundary for HS 13, I am working with other board members to explore it too. I want to make sure we create minimal impact to students around that area while solving the overcrowding issue in Howard High and other schools. Double/triple boundary adjustment should be avoided as much as possible.

Note: Last redistricting happened in 2018. Next redistricting will be in 2020. Then next large scale redistricting will be in 2023 ( because of High School 13 opening and 200 additional seats will be available in Hammond High School)

I am also looking for the community input. HS 13 has a capacity of 1650 students. Here is the number of student polygon https://chaowu.org/2019/08/23/hcpss-student-number-by-polygons/.

Here is the map with polygon. From the map, you can see the need for High School 14 in the North East area ( Elkridge area).

Area map with polygon number

Screen Shot 2019-08-27 at 6.56.38 PM

 

Please share your input as the following format: core HS 13 area, and possibly included areas. Please include the polygon number and student number. We want to create a plan with around 1500 students.  Please consider community continuity/ historical/culture/transportation/etc factors.

The plan for HS 13 from the superintendent:

The whole HCPSS map with superintendent’s proposed redistricting 2020:

My email is chaowu2016@gmail.com privately or redistricting@hcpss.org publicly.

Thanks.

HCPSS student number by polygon

Here is the data associated with polygon. School attendance boundary is assigned by polygon number.

HCPSS Student Number by Polygon

POLYGON NUMBER

Please click here find your polygon number at http://hcpss-gis.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=06528401636a4a48b1ef681c66a61a07

The data is downloaded from HCPSS website https://www.hcpss.org/f/schoolplanning/2019/data-enroll-projections-suppressed.xlsx?c

2020 HCPSS Superintendent’s proposal for redistricting

Superintendent Dr. Martirano proposed his redistricting proposal tonight (8/22/2019). Here are the proposed moves.

Elementary School Move

elementary school move

elementary new map

Middle School Move

middle school move

middle school new map

High School Move

high school move

high school new map

HS 13 Boundary

HS 13 boundary

I don’t have the polygon numbers yet for HS13. I will add them when I have it.

The whole document is attached here for your reference:

08 20 2019 Attendance Area Adjustment BR

08 20 2019 Attendance Area Adjustment PowerPoint

Polygon Number

Please click here find your polygon number at http://hcpss-gis.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=06528401636a4a48b1ef681c66a61a07

Your comments can be sent to redistricting@hcpss.org.

Here are some timelines for the process.

Screen Shot 2019-08-22 at 6.48.30 PM

Public Hearing:

All public hearings will be held at the Department of Education, 10910 Clarksville Pike, Ellicott City, with satellite rooms available for overflow.

  • Tuesday, September 17, 7 p.m.
    • Families currently zoned for Centennial HS, Howard HS, Mt. Hebron HS, Oakland Mills HS
  • Tuesday, September 24, 7 p.m.
    • Families currently zoned for Atholton HS, Hammond HS, Long Reach HS, Wilde Lake HS
  • Thursday, September 26, 7 p.m.
    • Families currently zoned for Glenelg HS, Marriotts Ridge HS, Reservoir HS, River Hill HS

Board Work Session

The Board of Education is currently scheduled to have seven public work sessions to discuss the suggested boundary review. The public may attend a work session but may not participate. The BOE is expected to make a preliminary decision during their final work session on November 18.

  • Thursday, October 10, 6:30 p.m
  • Thursday, October 24, 6:30 p.m.
  • Wednesday, October 30, 6:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, November 5, 6:30 p.m.
  • Tuesday, November 12, 6:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, November 14, 6:30 p.m..
  • Monday, November 18 Preliminary decision

Board Final Decision

The Board of Education is scheduled to make their final decision on any boundary line adjustments.

Some HCPSS 2019 AAC Meeting Summaries

There were four Area Attendance Committee meetings. The detailed meeting minutes are here: https://www.hcpss.org/school-planning/boundary-review/#aac-meetings

I am copying some of their meeting presentations here for our readers. The following slides are extracted from https://www.hcpss.org/f/schoolplanning/2019/aac-presentation-07-09-19.pdf

Screen Shot 2019-07-24 at 4.25.48 PMScreen Shot 2019-07-24 at 4.25.58 PMScreen Shot 2019-07-24 at 4.26.05 PMScreen Shot 2019-07-24 at 4.26.14 PM

School Population Change:

hcpss_12_2008_2019

Here is another animation which shows how our school population changes over the last 11 years in Howard County. The red dots highlights higher student populations.

school_population

Public input.

The four public input sessions have concluded; however, you can continue to provide feedback to help inform the Superintendent’s recommendations, by completing the online survey or submitting alternative boundary solutions by August 1.

Superintendent Proposal on August 20

The Superintendent will make his recommendation to the Board of Education on Tuesday, August 20. The Board will gather feedback from the community during public hearings on September 17, 24 and 26, and will hold work sessions on October 10, 24 and 30, and November 5, 12, 14 and 18. Find more details including how you can provide testimony.

BOE Nov. 21 Decision

On Thursday, November 21, the Board will make a decision on redistricting for the 2020-2021 school year.

Changes are never stopping

Earlier this year, French supermarket Carrefour partially exited from China market due to their failure to compete with other local and international supermarket stores . This is a shock to me.

Around 20 years ago when I first visited Shanghai and went to a Carrefour store, I was shocked. There were many people in the lines and there were more than 20 checkout lines. I never saw that scale in Hefei or my hometown. When people paid 300-500 Chinese Yuan ( 40-60 US dollars) for their good just for one purchase, I spent 150 (20 US dollars) on my meal at college per month. In the past, each of their stores made a profit of more than 100 million Chinese Yuan year. However, they did not adapt to the e-commerce and competitions from other local stores, they had to sell their stores.

Then there is another news today: China Takes Lead in Fortune Global 500. https://fortune.com/2019/07/22/china-takes-lead-in-fortune-global-500-ceo-daily/ .  This is the first time in the Fortune Global 500 list.

The world is changing and never stops. How can we prepare ourselves for such kind of changes? How can we prepare our children for such changes when they grow up?

AAC community input sessions start tonight 2019-7-10

Reminder: Attendance Area Community Input Sessions begin this evening:

Wednesday, July 10, 7–9 p.m. at Oakland Mills High School

Families currently zoned for Centennial HS, Howard HS, Mt. Hebron HS, Oakland Mills HS

Saturday, July 13, 9–11 a.m. at Long Reach High School

Available to any family that is unable to attend their regional meeting.

Tuesday, July 16, 7–9 p.m. at Atholton High School

Families currently zoned for Atholton HS, Hammond HS, Long Reach HS, Wilde Lake HS

Thursday, July 18, 7–9 p.m. at River Hill High School

Families currently zoned for Glenelg HS, Marriotts Ridge HS, Reservoir HS, River Hill HS

While it is not required, community encouraged to RSVP

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeYQv-p8CQ0pjb6P1sF6MH-Ne9e1IF4wCwihEvkQP2CUNjC7g/viewform