Revised for publication on 2020-04-16
We are entering a new phase of our education. We finally started our distance learning for high school students. I am glad to hear many positive feedback from our parents. Middle school and elementary school will start next week. I wish this will give our students and families some relief, engagement, feelings of belongings and education. We are all together.
I wish parents and students keep sharing their feedback with our school system such that the school system is tracking what the school system is doing, and keep improving the methodology, delivery approach and community communication. In the current situation, I am especially worried about our delivery model for kids with special needs, younger kids having few parents’ involvement, kids who are already struggling or lagging on their subject.
We probably will not go back to school for this semester. High School seniors will probably graduate without a prom or a graduation ceremony. Other students transition to a new middle school or a new high school even do not have a chance to say goodbye to their friend. I wish the school, community and parents are keeping a close eye on their children’s mental health. More video games, more screen times and less physical activity time for several months are very challenging for every student in this pandemic era.
We need to be really careful on our spending. We will receive our 2021 operating budget in five days from the county executive. In Scott E’s blog, according to Dr. Holly Sun, Howard County’s Budget Director, Howard County is estimating a revenue loss of over $35 million in the current fiscal year, with major losses in income tax, recordation, and hotel tax. A significant revenue impact is also anticipated for FY 2021. These revenue losses don’t qualify for any known federal aid, which usually only covers expenses related to emergencies.
Here I am asking our school, pause any non-urgent spending until we hear from the county executive on the 2021 operating budget.
As a board and a school system, we need to prepare for a difficult time ahead of us. We need to scrutinize any spending and probably think about a hybrid education delivery mode in the future, to incorporate distance learning as another education tool.