CA Board Working Session Summary 2018-07-12

This is not an official meeting minutes.

Open Space and Facility Services Update

–many ongoing/completed projects.

Discussion on annual charge rate for FY 2020

There was a discussion on the annual charge rate. The staff recommends keeping the annual charge rate at 0.68 dollar per 100 assessed dollars. I am advocating lowering the rate a little bit because I am concerned about more than 10% budget increase over four years.

Advisory Committee Report:

  1. Senior Advisory Committee: Sharonlee Vogel
  2. International Multiculture Advisory Committee: Valerie Montague
  3. Watershed Advisory Committee: Deborah Wessner
  4. Tennis Advisory Committee: Leo Bruette
  5. Art Center Advisory Committee: Doug Satteson
  6. Golf Advisory Committee: Keith Heilveil
  7. Health and Fitness Advisory Committee: Jessica Rennenkampf

Strategic Initiatives for President/CEO for Fiscal Year 2019

Milton Matthews proposed his own five strategic initiatives.

  1. Facilitate Development of and Gain Board Approval of a New Five-Year Strategic Plan for Columbia Association (CA).
  2. Open Lines of Communications and Develop a Working Relationship with Cedar Realty Trust, Inc., Primary Owner of the Oakland Mills Village Center.
  3. Implement Upgrades and other Improvements to CA’s Website, which may include the Development of a New Website.
  4. Provide the Board with an Updated Five-Year Capital Improvement Plan.
  5. Identify and Attend an Executive Level Professional Development Training Session, with a Focus on Growing my Knowledge to Anticipate and Execute the Requirements of Nonprofit Leadership.

Every Vote Counts. Yes

I did not think of “every vote counts” very much before. Now it comes to us so closely. There are three important, very very close races in the 2018 Primary Election in Maryland. This is an eye-opening moment.

  1. Howard County Council District 1, Democratic Candidate Race
    1. Liz Walsh (3173 votes) led Jon Weinstein (3171 votes) by 2 votes
    2. absentee/provisional vote: Liz: 125, Jon 82
    3. There is a 0.054% difference
  2. Baltimore County Executive, Democratic Candidate Race
    1. John “Johnny O” Olszewski ( 27804) led Jim Brochin (27795) by 9 votes
    2. absentee/provisional vote: John: 953, Jim 1290
    3. There is a 0.032% difference.
    4. The primary race winner will be the next county executive since Baltimore County is highly blue.
  3. Montgomery County Executive, Democratic Candidate Race
    1. Marc Elrich (37529) led David Blair (37449) by 80 votes.
    2. absentee/provisional vote: Marc: 2629, David 3041
    3. There is a 0.21% difference.  This difference is a little larger and Blair has difficulty to flip the race.
    4. The primary race winner will be the next county executive since Montgomery County is deep blue.

Now everything comes to the absentee/provisional votes. Invalidating/validating votes will take some time. The candidates probably need/will hire election lawyers to sit there side by side.

 

Newly Proposed Affordable Housing of Robinson Overlook at River Hill

Newly Proposed Affordable Housing of Robinson Overlook at River Hill

This was presented to River Hill Village board on July 9th, 2018.

Tonight, the Wode Cooper Development, with the Howard County Housing Commission, is proposing 48 housing units at 7410 Grace Drive, Columbia, MD, 21044. The location is at the corner of Cedar Lane and Grace Drive, between Grace building and Robinson Nature Center. Note this is different from the Simpson Oaks’ development plan along Grace Drive uphill.

Woda Cooper Development (CJ Tyree), formed in 1990, have over 300 projects in 15 states. They build, own and manage properties. This project costs around 20 million dollars.

Howard County Housing Commission (Peter Engel) facilitated the development of around 800 affordable units in the county. This is their new project, partnering with Woda Copper.

Back-to-Back stacked units

48-unit rental townhouse/apartment

  1. 8: 1-bedroom (718sf)
  2. 19: 2-bedroom (962 sf)
  3. 21: 3-bedroom(1398 sf)
  4. Amenities include community room, computer lab, and tot lot.

Financing through low-income (62,000 a year income) housing tax credit, administered by Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD).

JC believe this stacked type of housing more appealing than apartment.

Mixed Income Structure

  1. 30% AMI targeted units = 9 . , annual salary of 20K for 1 bedroom
  2. 40% AMI targeted units = 6
  3. 50% AMI targeted units = 6
  4. 60% . AMI targeted units = 22
  5. Unrestricted income units = 5

Timeline

  1. May 2018, submitted tax credit application
  2. August 2018, begin county entitlement process
  3. September 2018, receive tax credits
  4. July 2019, Receive building permits, begin construction
  5. August 2020, Complete construction
  6. December 2020, Complete leasing

Zoning 101 and Howard County Rezoning

The Columbia Association board took a three-hour zoning 101 lesson from Jeff Zyont this Saturday morning. I learned a lot.

ZONING 101 by Jeff Zyont

At the same time, Howard County is going to rewrite the zoning law. This change may have a huge impact to our county in the future. Attached is an assessment for our county’s zoning regulation.  More details could be found at https://www.howardcountymd.gov/regulationassessment.

HoCo 2018 Rezoning assessment

 

Correlation between early voting and election day voting

There is a consistent correlation between early voting and the election day voting for all candidates except No. 5 and No. 6 seats.

But overall, candidates received votes proportionally in the early voting and the election date voting. Coincidentally, No 7. and No 8. received exactly the same total votes. Every vote counts.

2018 primary election BOE data.JPG

The result is obtained from https://results.elections.maryland.gov/elections/2018/results/Primary/gen_results_2018_1_by_county_140.html

The data may change before it is certified.

Baltimore Sun’s report on BOE race

Eight Howard County school board candidates advance

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/howard/ph-ho-cf-school-board-primary-0626-story.html

Eight school board hopefuls are one step closer to having one of the four seats on the Howard County Board of Education, according to unofficial primary election results.

Vicky Cutroneo, Bob Glascock, Robert Wayne Miller, Chao Wu, Jen Mallo, Sabina Taj, Danny Mackey and Anita Pandey were the top eight winners among 13 candidates in Tuesday’s primary.

Cutroeno has 19,991 votes, Glascock has 16,951 votes, Miller has 15,968 votes, Wu has 15,047 votes, Mallo has 13,080 votes, Taj has 12,849 votes, Mackey has 9,685 votes and Pandey has 9,666 votes, with 97.6 percent of the votes reported.

The remaining five candidates are Carleen Pena with 8,020 votes, Saif Rehman with 7,307 votes and Mavourene Robinson with 5,634 votes, Timothy Hodgson Hamilton with 3,579 votes, Christopher Michael Hilfiger with 3,071 votes with 97.6 percent of the votes reported.

Two numbers:

  1. How sad the two shadow candidates ( Timothy Hamilton, Christopher Hilfiger) can still get more than 6500 votes.
  2. I got 47 extra votes over 15000. We got a higher voter turnout this year than 2014. In the 2014 BOE primary, the No. 4 candidate received around 12000 votes. 47 is a small number. However 47 votes could flip District 1 County Council race this year. Now incumbent Jon Weinstein led his challenger Liz Walsh by 41 votes. When the absentee and provisional votes come in, we will see how it play out. Every vote counts.

CA Board Meeting Summary 2018-06-28

Chairman’s Remarks:

oncoming meetings for Columbia Association related

July 4, 2018

Fireworks at Lakefront

5:00 PM

July 7, 2018

Chrysalis Kids: Grandsons, Jr.

10:00 AM RR

July 8, 2018

CA’s Second Sunday Swim (free access with Columbia Card)

(See Pool Schedules)

July 12, 2018

CA Board work session

7:00 PM (note time change)

July 17, 2018

Volunteering Made Easy

6:00 PM RR

July 17, 2018

Columbia Solar Cooperative information session (OM)

7:00 PM

July 17, 2018

Aquatics Advisory Committee meeting (HR – see web site)

7:00 PM

July 19, 2018

Senior Advisory Committee meeting

2:30 PM

Resident Speakout:

Brian England, on behalf of Guilford Business Group, asked CA to join them to proceed commercial covenant enforcement, instead of waiting for the county rezoning process to be finished( the timeline for the county wide rezoning process is uncertain).

Chris Alleva, proposed a building alteration process. The process is for building alterations without a change of use to the Architectural Committee. Demolition of a building or in some circumstances a. change in use requires an amendment of the Final Development Plan, Comprehensive Plan and the Preliminary Development Plan. Amendments to these plans are reviewed under those provisions in the commercial and industrial architectural guidelines.

Ginger Scott: talked about flood damage on the Fairway Hill Golf Court, whether CA staff informed the board about the risk or not, recommended CA reevaluate the whole golf court area.

Board Action:

  1. The board sent board resolution indemnifying CA Team Members on the 401(k) Plan Investment Committee back to CA staff for further clarification. The board has concern of “gross negligence”.
  2. The board approved an updates to the Board Reimbursement Policy.
  3. The board approved resolution allowing Residents to Speak on Any Topic at Board Work Sessions.

Board Discussion:

  1. FY 2020 Draft Budget Schedule
  2. Two Closed Meetings related to Business Transaction

Join Team Wu’s Independence Day Parade

Please join us to celebrate the great moment. Please email me at chaowu2016@gmail.com. We will meet at 9:00 AM on July 4th, Pointers’ Run Elementary School and Clarksville Middle School.

   http://www.villageofriverhill.org/sights-and-sounds-of-summer-19th-annual-independence-day-parade-is-local-highlight/

As always, this year’s parade will be held on July 4 beginning at 9 a.m. The parade stages in the parking lots at Pointers Run Elementary and Clarksville Middle Schools, travels the length of Great Star Drive, and ends at Signal Bell Lane at the 5th District Fire Station. It is not unusual to see chairs set up along the route early in the morning in anticipation of this community tradition. There are many great things about River Hill’s Independence Day Parade. The kids might say it’s the candy and trinkets or the opportunity to ride a float or march with their friends. Of course, who can forget the Lawn Chair Marching Dads and the blasting sirens of the fire trucks. The presence of our elected officials and veterans of our nation’s wars honor our democracy and remind us of the sacrifices made on its behalf. We can all agree that each Independence Day our diverse community is fortunate to have the opportunity to think about what it means to be an American and to celebrate our freedom.

Our team needs your help to celebrate Independence Day as founding father John Adams envisioned in 1776, with “pomp and parade”! 

I have joined the parade each year since my daughter was two years old. It is fun and aspiring.

Please email me at chaowu2016@gmail.com. We will meet at 9:00 AM on July 4th, Pointers’ Run Elementary School and Clarksville Middle School.

Thank you note after primary election win

I am really excited to get into the top four (of 13 candidates) with more than 15000 votes in the 2018 Howard County Board of Education Primary Election. I will advance to the general election in November 2018. I am so grateful to many voters who trusted me and my volunteer team who helped me.

It is a learning experience. When the journey began, I was really careful with what I said or what others said about my campaign. You don’t want to offend your potential voters, right? I paid attention to Facebook posts after work every night. During one meeting with some community activists, when I said “I value education” and one person asked me back “so you mean others don’t value education?”, I began to realize that I didn’t need to and I could not please every one. What I need to do is to have an equal conversation and promote my experience, my value and my vision for HCPSS.

It is not always easy for me, as a non-native speaker to speak as eloquently as other candidate. I need to slow down while speak ( I often forget this either because of nervousness or excitement) and I need to articulate about my thought. Even if I have great ideas, I need present them well. I picked up my old vocabulary book and other accent training tapes again.

As an engineer, I need to find ways to resonate with audiences and voters. During my professional work, I just need focus on A+B=C or ax^2+bx+c = 0, etc, which has a very standard way to be expressed and understood between engineers. I can articulate well and get the ideas exchanged effectively and efficiently in the engineering field. While in a community meeting/discussion/chat, many people’s backgrounds are quite different from mine, I need to understand their background first and find a way to get my thoughts out in the right format.

As myself growing up from a low-income family, I have always believed education is not about education only. It is an effort that should be worked with students, teachers, families and the community. We just could not expect the school to address all the issues which are caused by the society. That is not realistic. We need to motive our students to learn and work hard by involving families and communities.

We need to provide more vocational training as an another career choice for our students. My brother graduated from a teaching school ( equivalent high school level) and became a teacher when he was 18. With his support, my family was turned upwards and I followed his path, studied really hard, eventually went to college.

I am not an emotional person which prevents me connecting with some voters. I stay calm, listen to others and try my best to look at issues objectively and find a practical solution.

I am independent and always keep my eyes open to new ideas. I do my research first and speak later. I learn from every source to keep myself informed and engaged at issues.

I am new. I even did not know politics was associated with color. Some people assumed me to be republican since I was using “red” in the yard sign or I wore a red tie. I was really surprised. Just reiterate: I am an independent candidate. The color identity politics is weird and wrong. I just feel red/write yard sign in the green/blue grassy background is more visible and it bring me the energy. It is the person, their idea and character that matter in the life, not the color of their tie, nor the color of their skin.

I will continue to advocate “quality education” for our students. We should look for a reasonable and fair solution to address each issue we are facing in the school system.

It is a learning experience for me as a county-wide (at-large) candidate because our community is so diverse and their focuses are also quite different . It is also a learning experience for my volunteers. Many of them never participated in any political process before. They were disfranchised in the community or the political process before. Now they are engaged.

Our campaign is a grass-root effort. This time we jumped in the boat and learned to row the boat. We made some mistakes ( I apologize if those mistakes cause some trouble for you or others) and will make sure we do not repeat those mistakes in the general election in November.

If you would like to continue the journey with my team, please board our boat. Please remember:

  1. A Vote for Wu is a Vote for you.
  2. Save the best for last since my name is the last in ballot.

Together, we are stronger. Now it is time for us to sail further, wider and happier.

Some thought before tomorrow’s primary election day

I am more exposed than many other candidates. I have been writing articles for four years publicly, including the monthly Council Corner for The Villager of The River Hill Village Association ( around 5000 circulations). I also write on school related issues extensively by attending meetings and reading school documents. I wish those writings give you more understanding of myself, my style and my experience, not just on the limited interactions during the campaign trail.

I am consistent, pragramtic and independent.

I believe I am the right candidate for the school board. I appreciate your trust and vote tomorrow.

Thank you!!!

Columbia Association FY 18 Annual Report( The Village 2018-07)

Columbia Association’s FY 18 Annual Report

By Chao Wu
This is a simple version of the annual report. You can find CA’s official annual report at https://www.columbiaassociation.org/about-us/policies-statements/financial-reports/columbia-association-annual-report/ shortly.
This article will be published on The Village, July 2018 issue.

During fiscal year 2018 (May 2017 to April 2018), Columbia Association (CA) accomplished many of the goals that were set by the board in 2017. This article recaps the report written by CA board chair Andy Stack.

Inside Columbia Association

I always want to make sure CA has a well-balanced budget, maintaining the fiscal health of the organization while making the necessary expenditures. During fiscal year 2018, the CA board approved the annual charge rate without any increase and maintained limited borrowing. The board has built a long-term plan by allocating $20 million yearly in capital funds for several years to help deal with overdue and necessary repairs and improvements required for CA’s facilities.

We are continuing to maintain and improve our facilities and environment. In FY18, there was a large amount of funding allocated to the Swim Center, Ice Rink, and Athletic Club. We continue to clean our lakes and ponds, reduce stream erosion with watershed improvement projects, and improve pathways and bridges.

CA opened a new indoor tennis facility in Long Reach and converted the old Tennis Bubble in Owen Brown for outdoor tennis and pickle-ball. A major renovation at the Athletic Club is currently underway.

The board and CA staff actively reviewed and discussed options for assuming responsibility for handling commercial covenants in Columbia . We reviewed and discussed potential enhancements to the Lakefront Plaza. The Board wants to ensure that our master plan takes into account Howard Hughes’ proposal for the redevelopment of the Lakefront Core area.

Within Howard County

The board worked with the developer and with Howard County on the redevelopment of the Long Reach Village Center. CA presented testimony before the Planning Board and the Zoning Board in support of this crucial effort to enhance a village center.

CA participated in Howard County’s Phase 1 land use/development regulations review process. Phase 1 set the stage for Phase 2 which will focus on rewriting the actual land use regulations. This will have a major impact on the future redevelopment of Columbia. We want to make sure Columbia continues to be a planned community.

The board followed developments regarding the new Cultural Center in Downtown Columbia, the Crescent area in Downtown Columbia, the Hickory Ridge Village Center, the Lakefront Core area, and other proposed developments in and around Columbia.

Bigger Community

The board established a new Climate Change and Environmental Sustainability Advisory Committee. The committee recruited environmental experts across the county and just held its first meeting. With their help, we want to make sure Columbia continues to be conscious about reducing energy waste and improving the environment.

CA helped to celebrate Columbia’s 50th birthday with great success. More than 85 great events were held and many community members were highly engaged. I attended many events with my family and I am glad Columbia continues to be a diverse and vibrant community.

We established a new sister city, Liyang, China for Columbia after three-year’s planning work. I believe connecting people and building friendship will provide a better vision and network for Columbia and Howard County residents.

I am looking forward to your feedback and please enjoy your summer.

Chao Wu, PhD

River Hill Representative to Columbia Council and Columbia Association Board of Directors

Email: superbwu@gmail.com Website: http://www.chaowu.org

Disclaimer: This letter only represents Dr. Chao Wu’s personal opinion. It does not represent River Hill Board of Directors nor Columbia Association’s Board.

Interview with Baltimore Sun reporter

I was interviewed by Baltimore Sun’s reporter Janene Holzberg sometime ago over the  phone. As I said before, we would love to connect people and build friendship. I wish this is the first step and we can do more.

The article is out today online:  Columbia poised to add China’s Liyang as sister city

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/howard/bs-md-ho-columbia-sister-city-20180613-story.html

Connecting people and building friendship

Connecting people and building friendship. That is the exact reason why I have been working with CA’s program manager Laura Smit and our residents Hui Dong, Jun Han to explore a sister city relationship between Columbia and Liyang of China since Oct. 2015.

The Liyang Sister City Committee of Columbia Association took its official name on Tuesday 6/12/2018. We are promoting culture exchange, high school students exchange, tourism and many more between Columbia, Howard County and Liyang, China.

Congratulations to all China Sister City Planning Committee members. Thanks a lot for your great and continuous work. It is tremendous work.

Congratulations to all delegates who made the trip to Liyang last year, including CA board members Alan Klein and Dick Boulton, Delegate Eric Ebersole , former long time Delegate Liz Bobo and Howard Council member Lloyd Knowles, Marcy Gitt ( Liyang Sister City Committee Vice Chair), Barbara Kellner ( former Columbia Archive Director), Laura Smit and many more. Unfortunately our great reporter Len Lazarick did not get the visa.  It was a successful trip.

I am looking forward to many opportunities for these two great cities to work together.

Connecting people and building friendship. Liyang China

Who to Vote for Howard County School Board

Save the Best for Last and Vote for Dr. Chao Wu as shown in the ballot.

There is not doubt that you should vote for Dr. Chao Wu for the school board.

  1. He has been involved with the school systems for more than three years. He testified in front Board of Education for many times. He participated in many meetings in PTA, PTAC, CAC, etc. He joined the BOE operating budget review committee to look at our school spendings and priorities..
  2. He has the experience as an elected board member for Columbia Association to manage a big organization. He was once the vice chair and the chair of the budget committee ( 72 million dollars’ budget). He was on the Risk Management Committee and Audit Committee. He is in the International Multi-culture Advisory Committee. He led a team and developed another sister city for Columbia. He is always responsive to citizens’ concerns.
  3. He has the strong believe that great education is the key to success for our students. He came from a low-income family, and studied in China, Singapore and USA. He graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park with a PhD degree from Electrical and Computer Engineering.
  4. He is always improving himself. He is not as eloquent as other candidates because he only started to learn English at Middle School and oral speaking was not a focus in his schools. He keep increasing his English vocabulary and reducing his accent. He always believe he should always try his best and never give up.
  5. He is open minded and looks for solutions to change the status quo. He seeks common ground and believes common sense.

More will come along the way. Thanks for reading.

Columbia Association Board Is More Active Than Ever (The Villager 2018-06)

By Dr. Chao Wu
This article is published on June 2018 issue of “The Villager” of River Hill Community Association.

Columbia Association board starts a new fiscal year without little change. We have the same board chair and vice chair. However, CA board is more active than ever.

Internally, CA board members had some unofficial, offside board meetings which never happened before. We discussed how we could improve the board meeting process. We will not restrict the topics in resident speakout. We will disclose closed meeting minutes in a timely manner with more transparency. We will push for our staff more responsive to both board questions and residents’ concerns. We will consistently evaluate the membership structure and we continue to improve the energy efficiency.

Externally, CA board will be more outspoken in the development around Columbia. The board is against the current Royal Farm Gas Station along Snowden Parkway because it does not fit Columbia vision. The board will take classes on land use and zoning. We will provide valuable feedback to the county council on the undergoing zoning regulation changes. We want to make sure Columbia, as a planned community, will stay as planned with a good future to come. We will enforce our commercial covenant with stronger will. Unregulated development will destroy the quality of life many of us are enjoying now.

We need our residents get engaged too. Recently, I got tagged on Facebook for some lawn mowing issues in a non-CA property. I immediately forwarded that to our open space director and he immediately contacted the relevant parties to address the issue. Eventually the lawn was mowed although it took a few days. I would say as long as you express your concerns with me or the board, I will try my best to help you get the problems to the right hand in CA. It may not result in the way you want, but we listen to you and value your feedback.

The worst part is indifference from our resident. We need hear from you and need help from you too.

Chao Wu, Ph.D.

River Hill Representative to Columbia Council and Columbia Association Board of Directors

Email: superbwu@gmail.com Website: http://www.chaowu.org

Disclaimer: This letter only represents Dr. Chao Wu’s personal opinion. It does not represent River Hill Board of Directors nor Columbia Association’s Board

HCPSS 2018 Feasibility Study

This feasibility study is for an Annual Review of Long-Term Capital Planning and Attendance Area Adjustment Options.  It will be discussed on 6/7/2018 Board meeting.

School Staff Recommendation:

Adjustments School Attendance Areas This report is not recommending initiation of an attendance area adjustment process in 2018-19 for the 2019-20 school year. The next boundary line adjustments are anticipated for 2023-24 with the opening of High School #13 and the addition of capacity to Hammond High School.

Background:

Each year, the Board of the HCPSS reviews the capital planning options and boundary adjustment considerations through a feasibility study. The report has four goals:

  1. Inform the long-term planning process.
  2. Facilitate discussion of decisions that may lay ahead.
  3. Provide strategic information to the school system.
  4. Prepare for scheduled school boundary adjustments.

It is on school  website https://www.boarddocs.com/mabe/hcpssmd/Board.nsf/files/AZAM235910BC/$file/06%2007%202018%20Feasibility%20Study%20BR.pdf

Several observations:

  1. Local Capacity and State Rated Capacity as of June 20 are quite different school by school. For example, Dayton Oak’s state computed capacity is 901 while local computed capacity is 675.  These two computations should be consolidated.
  2. The following figures show where the population growsplanHoward2030
  3. For Elementary Schools, 2018 and 2023 projected utilization rates
    Region 2018 2023
    Columbia East Region 103.7% 96.6%
    Columbia West Region 90.9% 106.4%
    Northeastern Region 95.3% 103.9%
    Northern Region 106.7% 114.2%
    Southeastern Region 98.0% 100.0%
    Western Region 95.0% 102.4%
  4. For Middle schools, 2018 and 2023 projected utilization rates
    Region 2018 2023
    Columbia East Region 92.6% 93.9%
    Columbia West Region 92.7% 100.4%
    Northeastern Region 104.9% 110.5
    Northern Region 106.7% 114.2%
    Southeastern Region 94.4% 101.8%
    Western Region 97.2% 98.3%

    Ellicott Mills Middle School is 126.% capacity.

  5. For High Schools, 2018 and 2023 projected utilization rates
    Region 2018 2023
    Columbia East Region (Oakland Mills) 86.9% 98.5%
    Columbia West Region 94.8% 98.2%
    Northeastern Region 120.2% 144.7
    Northern Region 106.3% 113.7%
    Southeastern Region 111.1% 111.6%
    Western Region 96.6% 103.0%

    Centennial High (122.4%) and Howard High (134.4%) are most crowded in 2018.

Eddison Hermond Memorial Scholarship Because of May Ellicott City Flood

Some of you may hear in the news that a person who was helping others was missing during last week’s Ellicott City flood.
The hero’s name is Eddison Hermond and he was found dead two days later unfortunately. There is a memorial scholarship set up under his name.
If you would like to make a contribution, please visit the following page:

https://www.marylandrestaurants.com/hermondscholarship.html

Endorsement for Chao Wu

Here comes the endorsement for Dr. Chao Wu for Howard County of Board of Education. I believe it is not a specific organization that can speak for you.
It is you, our voters, by making a little bit of effort to understand the candidate’s background, experience, and vision for the school system, make an informed vote. Your vote is my endorsement. Even my name is shown last in the ballot, “save the best for last”.

On the campaign trail for the Board of Education, many people from all sides have keep encouraging me because of my ideas, my experience and my vision for HCPSS.

  1. Here are my priorities:
    1. I will work with stakeholders to solve the $50 million school budget deficit. I will make sure the BOE is not a rubber stamp.
    2. I will make sure HCPSS provide equitable learning opportunities for all students, motivate students to learn and to succeed through hard work.
    3. I will listen to all sides and be open to new ideas for solutions.
  2. I have the experience as an effective board member of Columbia Association, working on the budget committee( once as a chair), the risk management committee and the audit committee. I also has the opportunities to engage with community members, village associations and other stakeholders. I write monthly to inform our residents what is happening in our neighborhood. This experience prepares me with the necessary skills and education as a BOE board member.
  3. I have been involved with the school system for several years. I testified in front of BOE several times. I sat on the BOE Operating Budget Review Committee. I led some discussion on the school starting time. I go to many meetings, PTA, PTAC, SEC, CAC, CEC, etc. I read and write a lot on many school topics and keep myself informed. I am passionate about how to provide a quality education for our students.
  4. I have the experience as a first generation immigrant who was lifted up by the public education all the way along. This experience gives me the best understanding how a quality education can inspire students to learn and succeed.
  5. I have the experience staying in three different countries(China, Singapore and United States), three different systems(educational, religious, economical and political). These experiences give me the first hand understanding how a diverse of community can live together harmoniously. I can bridge the gap and seek common ground for our school system.

I will be your voice and you are my strength.
A Vote for Wu is a Vote for you.

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.

Answers to Questionnaire of Facebook HoCo School Interest Group

Thanks to Bonnie Bricker’s effort, she organized a Facebook HoCo School Interest group and had an online BOE candidate forum. There are four questions and my answers to all of them.

Questions, Board Of Education:

  1. Please describe your role as a board member in creating equity for vulnerable populations including those in Special Education, immigrant and undocumented students, LGBTQ, and racial minorities. (350 words or LESS)

I believe all students, including those in Special Education, immigrant and undocumented students, LGBTQ, and racial minorities, should be treated equally. As an immigrant and racial minorities myself by these definitions, I know the challenges first hand. However, I don’t want to be labeled as “vulnerable” in my work place or my community, neither I want my children to be labeled as “vulnerable” in school. This label puts me down and does not aptly describe who I am. I want everyone to be treated equal with respect. I believe I am not the only one who share this sentiment.  Putting our students into different baskets is not the best way to help them to perform to the best of their abilities. It may prevent them to become the best version of themselves and this is not a healthy mindset for students to adopt both in and outside of school.

As a board member, I will ensure all the policies are non-discriminatory. I will ensure these policies are implemented in a non-discriminatory way. Most importantly, I will ensure everyone feels welcomed in school and everyone is expected to achieve the highest standard no matter which “basket” he or she is in.

Family involvement and effective communication is another crucial component of creating a supportive and encouraging environment in our schools. We need to create an avenue for families to communicate to the Board about the inequities they are facing in order for the Board to pass policies to address these inequities. Labeling people as “vulnerable” does not create this avenue of communication and only discourages our families from reaching out for help. We should create a straightforward, efficient and effective feedback mechanism for each policy and each program such that we can engage with the students who are not treated equally or need resources. Only through continuous effort and improvement, we can provide an equitable learning opportunity for all.

  1. What experiences or skills do you have that prepare you to make educationally focused decisions?(350 words or LESS)

I want to make sure HCPSS has a quality of education for years to come. I have one child currently in HCPSS and another one will enter next fall.

I have been actively involved with the school system. I served on the BOE Operating Budget Review Committee (OBRC). I have testified on multiple issues during Board of Education hearings including later school starting time and school redistricting. Most recently I provided suggestions to the school regarding transportation optimization. I have been an active participant in CAC and my local PTA meetings.  I also testified on tightening APFO in front of county council since I believe APFO will affect our education system significantly.

I have been elected twice as a Board Member of Columbia Association and River Hill Village Association since 2015. I am a strong proponent of fiscal health and great customer service for Columbia Association. I care deeply about both the organization health and residents feedback.

I was educated in three different education systems, China, Singapore and USA. My unique international education experience gives a multi-dimensional perspective and approaches while looking at issues and solving problems.

As an engineer, I always look for practical and optimal solutions when encountering problems. I look for solutions which are data-driven, pragmatic, community involved and professional derived.

  1. Redistricting is a difficult process, yet we know it is in our future. How can we best help this process to be more informative and less divisive? (350 words or LESS)

Redistricting is one part of strategies to solve the overcrowding issue. I was involved in the redistricting process last year by applying for the Area Attendance Committee (the selection process was not transparent, to say at least), attending community meetings, engaging with community members, exchanging ideas with HoCo Collaborative Community Plan group, I have learned a lot thought my first-hand experience.

We should improve both the process and methodology for school redistricting. We need accurate, complete and clean data for a data-driven solution. We need to develop in house capability to process redistricting data in real time while discussing this important topic.

We need a more objective goal while moving polygons around. In policy 6010, we should assign each criteria a weight (for example, each criteria 7.69%) objectively and evaluate the overall performance while doing the adjustment. We should not let one criteria dominate all of other factors.

We need to keep student-focused education in the policy center. Siblings, rising junior etc. should not be negatively impacted. We should always try to give parents and families options and choices such that they can choose what is the best for them.

Furthermore, the board should keep the pressure on building new schools as our student population keeps growing. Since the board approved high school #13 at Mission road, the board should continue look for high school 14. We should make sure high school #13 will be completed on time with quality assurance and make sure the elementary school in Turf Valley be on track.  We just could not keep large scale school redistricting plan on the table all times.

  1. If elected, what are your top 3 priorities as a Board member? (350 words or LESS)

1)      Work with all stakeholders to solve the $50 million school deficit and bring accountability and transparency back to the school system. Because of the rubber stamp support from previous BOE members and continuous lack of accountability and transparency, HCPSS is hitting hard with this $50 million deficit. We need work with the community, teacher association, county council, county executive and other stakeholders to develop a long and stable plane to address it.

2)      Provide equitable learning opportunities for all students and motivate students to learn and to succeed through hard work. Different students have different learning capabilities, different learning environments and different personal interests, the school system should provide individualized learning opportunities for them. At the same time, HCPSS should work with families and communities to address individual student need, motivate students to achieve their best potential through hard work. If there is a will, there is way for both students and HCPSS.

3)      Listen to all sides and be open to new ideas for solutions. As a board member, I am looking for data-driven and practical solutions. We have a diverse community and diverse perspectives and we need respect and embrace them and use the talents from all resources.