Answers to Howard County Chamber Questionnaire

Howard County Candidate Questionnaire from Howard County Chamber

May 31, 2018

Board of Education Candidates

1.     Some believe that Howard County schools are overcrowded. However, data seems to reflect a balancing issue. Would you consider school redistricting to best utilize the existing facilities we have in our county?

In reality, many schools are overcrowded and a few schools are just below the allowed capacity. From the school data we have, even as we try to balance the student numbers, some schools will be still overcrowded because we don’t have enough capacity to house the existing and ever growing student population. School redistricting should be used to utilize the existing facilities, but it should not be the only tool to address the school overcrowding issue. We need build more schools where the students come from. We need plan our housing development more carefully.

We should not allow developers drive our county’s development by consistently redistricting schools. 

2.     If Howard County schools operate under capacity as a result of the Board of Education’s desire not to redistrict, are you willing to fund school construction without state funding?

As indicated in my first answer, I am against massive (20%) school redistricting which is disruptive and damaging to the students and the community. Massive school redistricting will shift the burden from the county council and the county government to the parents and students. We need the county council and the county government to provide enough funding for the school system, plan housing development at the right pace and the right location.

I believe BOE should seek any opportunity to fund school construction with a short-term and long-term plan. 

3.     How can the Board of Education best support education while at the same time promote Howard County as a business destination?

BOE should work hard to maintain our quality education such that we can attract families and employees to live or work in Howard County.

Having a top employee force can promote HoCo as an attractive business destination, for sure.

At the same, we want to keep our business tax at a competitive level. This requires the county not to overspend its money and then have to raise tax. Since our school system spends around 58% of the county budget, BOE should make sure our school system is fiscally managed well.  

4.     Do you believe that there is a shortage in career and technology education and how would you address this issue going forward?

I believe there is a shortage in career and technology education. I would ask HCPSS to promote such career path to our students. We need provide such opportunities to our parents and students. At the same time, we must make sure our parents and students take advantage of such opportunities.

Furthermore, we should work with business communities to hire our graduates. We should build a reliable partnership between HCPSS and our business community both for the program direction and the hiring collaboration.

5.     Howard County has long been lauded for its education system but there are concerns by many that an achievement and equity gap exist. Do you agree with these assessment? How would you work with the superintendent and the community to address these concerns whether real or perceived?

I agree that HCPSS has a problem that some of students are not achieving the level of the success they can achieve. We need work with the superintendent, the school staff, families and the community together to address this issue. We will not succeed with the only focus on the school involvement. We should create an inspiring and motivational learning environment for our students which will eventually drive our students forward.

6.     Previous Board of Education and administration decisions have left the school system with a health fund deficit. What recommendations will you propose to remedy this situation and prevent it from happening again?

If I am elected into BOE, I will never be a rubber stamp as before which left us the current $50 million budget deficit. The board should keep their fiducial responsibility for HCPSS and the community.

We need improve the budgeting and spending process such that line item transfer should be strictly controlled and specifically approved by the board. The school should not start a new initiative without sustainable income to support such program.

We need better and frequent audit and risk management system for HCPSS such that problems can be found earlier before it becomes catastrophic.

7.     Is the current budgeting process between Howard County and HCPSS working well, or does it need improvement? What improvement would you pursue? 

The budgeting process definitely needs improvement.  For each budgeting cycle, before the school proposes its budget to the county government, the county government and the school should have an honest discussion on much money can be allocated to HCPSS. Based on that discussion, the school proposes a feasible budget to the county government and county council.

Right now, the school system and the county government are treating the school budget as a kicking ball in the public face. This process causes a huge distraction to the real problems:

1)    what is a reasonable and fair share that the county government can fund our education system based on our county’s revenue;

2)    what is a good mechanism to fund the education system when the county revenue is fluctuating from one year to another.

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