Here is a training for BOE board members to understand the board role in the appeal process.
2020 Special Education Citizens Advisory Committee (SECAC) Report
Special Education Citizens Advisory Committee Report
July 9, 2020 Report to the Howard County Board of Education
The presentation is here:
2020 HoCo BOE primary election result
2020 HoCo BOE primary election result is out. We have the following candidates advancing to the November general election. In each council district, we will elect one BOE member.
- District 2: Larry Pretlow, Antonia Watts
- District 3: Tom Heffner, Jolene Mosley
- District 4: Jen Mallo, Sezin Palmer
- District 5: Yun Lu, Cindy Vaillancourt
- District 1(no primary): Christina Demont-Small, Matthew D. Molyett
My 2019-2020 BOE Cluster
My new cluster covers: Howard High and Marriotts Ridge High and those feeder middle and elementary schools, Homewood and Applications Research Lab.
2019 BOE OBRC Final Report
The BOE Operating Budget Review Committee (OBRC) presented a year-end final report. They identified four critical areas:
- Create a multi‐year Operating Budget that is integrated with a Strategic Plan
- Key Performance Indicators for programs
- Next Level with Equity, Inclusion and Diversity: Social Determinants of Health
I truly appreciate the committee’s year long commitment to provide the school board an independent angle to look at our operating budget.
Here is the document.
Thoughts before 2020 HCPSS budget vote
It is my first school budget. The process is painful and the result is painful.
It was so painful that I have to see so many dedicated technology teachers, math support teachers, reading support teachers, math instruction support teachers, and paraeducators will lose their positions due to our vote. Fortunately they will not lose their job and income.
It is not your fault at all. When a math resource teacher called me and cried, I really don’t know what to say that point. We don’t have much choices.
increasing class size, cutting music teachers, cutting GT teachers , cutting technology teachers, cutting paraeducator, cutting math support teachers or reading support teachers or more. There is no good choice and we have to balance the budget.
I am looking forward to seeing how to make next year budget better. The reality is very tough. We will have a 37 millions dollar health care deficit and around 12 million dollar operating budget deficit starting at our next budget discussion.
We need revenue and find efficiency. We need clean our house first before any new initiatives.
- Managing our temporary worker system will bring some money.
- Charging daycare center running on school facility will bring some money. Right now, the rent is 1 dollar.
- Charging some school facility usage fee will bring some revenue
- We need increase school fundraising effort. (added after the post loaded here)
- We need examine every aspect of our operation.
- We need figure out how to increase our starting teacher salary to 50k to make our salary competitive . We need examine our health care benefit and reform it, and make it more sustainable as soon as possible. Our teachers and staff need our support.
- Running a school system is also like running a business. We need find efficiency. We need find result. We need innovate.
Furthermore, we need our county executive and county council’s continuous and strong support.
- We need increase our development impact fee to at least 8 dollars per square fee, which is still lower than neighboring counties. This will bring tens of million dollars to the county revenue and ease the school over-crowding a little bit. This will decrease our need to rely on debt to fund county capital budgets.
- If people consider increasing property tax and other tax, please make sure the development impact fee will be increased first
- also make sure the increased revenue will go into education. We should always be mindful increasing tax will create an extra financial burden to many families too.
The school system can only do so much with limited revenue. I will make sure our school system will not go back to the same faulty path as previous school administration.
We don’t have a rosy road ahead of us at all. Let’s all work together to fix the problem, bring our school back to the right track gradually and still be one of the best.
Our students are counting on us. Thanks.
2019 High School Graduation Speech
Embrace the change
2019 High School Graduation Speech
River Hill (Wednesday, 5/29/2019, 7:00PM-9:00)/ Mount Hebron (Thursday, 5/30)
By Dr. Chao Wu
It is a great honor to speak with you, our seniors. You will soon fly around the world to find your passion, work on your dream and enjoy a new chapter of your life. I would like to encourage you to “embrace the change”.
As one of the great ancient Chinese philosophers, Lao Zi in Taode Jing, 2400 years ago, wrote:
Dao that can be talked about is not the eternal Dao itself;
A name that can be given is not the eternal thing itself.
I am extending a little bit here: you today will not be the same you tomorrow. Change always happens.
My life has been full of changes.
I did not have a high-school graduation ceremony, neither did some of the parents here. When I was in high school, our main purpose was to work hard and to get into college because there were very few other opportunities. At that time, there were only 30% or less high school graduates who can go to a college.
Then I received a really great score from the three-day college entrance exam and entered one of the best universities in China. It opened the door to me for many more opportunities. Later I went to Singapore and then came to University of Maryland. Then I settled in Howard County and ran for the school board in 2018. With a dedicated campaign, I won a seat on the school board eventually.
In my life, I have been working really hard and preparing for the opportunities when it becomes available. There is no other way around since I came from a very humble, unprivileged family. I kept moving forward, and adapted myself to the three different societies that are quite different in culture, economic and political environments.
I strive to be the better of myself.
Change is permanent in our lives. Embrace the change.
The same for you, our proud and young graduates. Your new chapter of life will be different. You will not be under your parent’s radar any more. You will face never-ending changes and encounter differences in all spectrums. You will have countless opportunities to shape your own future.
The world is so big. You will be like a water drop in the ocean. However, please don’t forget your High School friends. Remember: your classmates next to you, may be your colleagues or even start-up co-founders. Can you have a hug with them now?
Embrace the change and follow by action
Embrace the change, understand the challenge and lead by action, not just words. Trust me, your future will be mainly decided by your own action.
The society is changing so much in recent years which is driven by the societal, economic and political landscapes not only in this country, but across the globe.
You are not immune to this change. For example, Artificial Intelligence will remove many repetitive, and non-challenging jobs. The call center and online service centers have been downsized dramatically. We need to educate and inform ourselves to avoid the risk going in this type of industry that is soon obsolete.
So invest yourself in the areas which require creativity and passion. Make sure those jobs will not be easily displaced by robot and AI.
Please take care of yourself, find new friends, and pursue the purpose of the life. It can be long. It can be complicated. It can have set-backs. However, never ever lose hope and call home often for support.
Finally, congratulations. The New World is waiting for you!
Photo credit to Deb Jung, Howard County Council Member District Four.
Tough choices and FY 2020 budget
Make tough choices and share the burden together
I would like to tell a story: A poor family had five kids. One year, there was a shortage of food because of the natural disaster. They had to make a tough choice:
- Every family member had less food and work through the tough year together.
- Give two children to other families such that with less people they can have more food for each remaining family member.
This was a true story happened in my “Wu” family two generations ago. Due to severe food shortage, one of my grandfather’s brother was given to another family and even changed his family name. It was 70 years ago. My great grandparents regretted that decision when the family condition changed for better later. Now all of them experienced that passed away.
Now 70 years later in Howard County, we are facing a very tough budget shortfall. At the same time, we are facing a tough choice. Are we going to surplus our teachers out, who are our best assets and make our classrooms even more crowded, or all of us stay together and find a way to get through the tough time? Or every stakeholder shares the burden collectively?
Cuts and Savings, HCPSS FY 2020 Budget Update
Wednesday afternoon’s work session on the FY2020 school budget was tough. After the discussion, here are some highlights:
- After the discussion, increasing class size by 2 and surplusing teachers (123.7 cut: elementary technology teacher from 62.2 to 42; music teacher from 52 to 26; GT elementary from 79.5 to 42; GT middle from 60 to 20) and para-educators (104 cut: elementary paraeducator from 216 to 132; middle school math paraeducator cut 15, middle school reading paraeducator, cut 5), are on-hold with a 10 million dollars deficit. There are a small number hiring increase (para-educator) in several areas too because of cutting teachers.
- At the same time, we are increasing the health care deficit with another 7 million dollars to 44 million dollars next year. We are creating an operating budget deficit for FY2021 since we are using a 10 million fund balance to fund incurring operating cost.
- We are not able put extra fund on the student mental health and well-being, restorative and inclusive support. program innovation, deferred maintenance and balancing capacity and changing school start time.
- We are now waiting for the county council to give us extra 10 million dollars if they can.
- The school budget discussion will be difficult for this year and many years forward.
Here is document: 05 08 2019 Budget Work Session Document
The link is here:
Click to access 05%2008%202019%20Budget%20Work%20Session%20Documentss.pdf
HCPSS 2020 operating budget update
The board received many emails about the school budget proposed by the County Executive. In those emails they talked about a 30 million dollar increase on the operating budget over last year. This is not true. The increase is 0.9% percent and the amount is 5.14 million dollars.
Here is Howard County Proposed. FY2020 budget: https://cc.howardcountymd.gov/Portals/0/FY2020%20Proposed%20Operating%20Budget-web.pdf
On page 22, we have the numbers:
It is a tough year for the school board and the county government. Since the county executive’s operating budget was out already, we need convince the county council to allocate extra money for the school system.
The school system needs to balance the budget. Here are some big numbers:
- There is a 37 million dollar deficit in the health fund which we need pay off. In 2020 we need spend extra 7 million dollars on the health care fund in order not to increase the deficit.
- There is an increase of around 800-1000 new students into HCPSS. For each student, the county spent around 11k ( total is around 15,476 per HCPSS student) and the total net increase on spending by the student enrollment increase is around 11.5 million dollars (10.3 M for staff increase and 1.2 million for transportation) .
- We have FY 2019 negotiated salary increase for teachers which is 6.7 million dollars. This has to be honored.
- We have another negotiated salary increase (@3%) for teachers which is 19 million dollars. For the same reason, we have other salary increase for non-teachers which is 3.1 million dollars.
- We have non-public placement for special education(new enrollment?), which is 3.8 million dollars.
- Other materials of instruction and operations of plant are around 2.5 million dollars.
I can assure you that increasing the class size will be the last choice for the board. Increasing class size by one will save 6.5 millions dollars.
The board will have another work session on May 8th, Wednesday 4:00-6:00PM.
HCPSS School Start Time repo
There have been continuous investigations/discussions on the school start time over the years. The cost of implementing a new high school start time later varies a lot. Here is a summary for various proposals. The starting time proposals ( elementary, middle and high) are different from one to another.
The difficult part for this discussion is “what is the better school start time and what is the cost”. I will continue engage in this conversation and put our student’s health and growth in the center of the focus.
The following cost is the extra money we need spend on the current $40 million dollars school transportation budget.
In the 2014-02-20 report, the estimated cost is $20 million dollars (high schools start at 8:15).
In the 2015-06-11 report, the estimated cost is 13.8 million dollars.
In the 2015-10-22 report, four models were discussed.
- Model 2 costed extra 9.3 million dollars,
- Model 3 costed extra 12.6 million dollars,
- Model 4 costed extra 4 million dollars.
- Model 5 costed extra 12 million dollars.
In the 2016-11-17 report, four new models were discussed (all four models start elementary schools at 7:30-7:45. There were the four models where I established a parent group and testified on behalf of them ):
- Model 1 costed extra 1.7 million dollars.
- Model 2 costed extra 0.9 million dollars.
- Model 3 costed extra 5.3 million dollars.
- Model 4 costed extra 3 million dollars.
In the 2017-12-19 report, four models were discussed (All start after 8:00)
- Model 1 costed extra 6.3 million dollars.
- Model 2 costed extra 7.62 million dollars.
- Model 3 costed extra 9.3 million dollars.
- Model 4 costed extra 8.36 million dollars.
Here is the list of usual historical documents for your info.
February 7, 2017 Public Hearing
February 23, 2017 – Internal Audit – Costs of Later Start & Dismissal Times
2019 Spring Board Corner
2019 Spring Board Corner
By. Dr. Chao Wu
Board Member of Howard County Board ofEducation
This article represents only my personal view. It does not represent the Howard County Board of Education. This article was revised by Tess Yu.
It has been a totally new experience for me after winning the election in November 2018. I have strived to work hard for our students, parents, and school system from this important position. I read all the documents and prepared for board meetings, joined many community and school activities, and visited many schools in my cluster.
This is my first attempt to write an open and quarterly letter to communicate with our community members on what has happened in our school system.
The first large and most important agenda came to the board was the HCPSS 2020 operating budget. HCPSS superintendent Dr.Michael Martirano proposed a nearly $1 billion, comprehensive school budget aligned with his “A Strategic Call to Action,” which defined the needs and priorities for our school system as determined by Dr. Martirano. During the budget discussion,I realized that HCPSS was not able to provide sufficient resources to support our students due to budget constraints, among other things, that have occurred in the past. On Feb. 19, 2019, the BOE board approved the school budget after six work sessions. The budget is now under the county government and county council’s hands for evaluation and approval. Here are some of my take-aways from the work sessions:
- After the whole process, I believe the budgeting process needs improvement. For example, without knowing how much HCPSS will receive, the school already signed contracts with several parties. We promise many programs and contracts without money at hand. The superintendent, the BOE, the county council and the county government need figure out a better way to work together on the timeline of the budget in the future. An earlier negotiated range of budget increase/decrease will be better for the budget process. It will reduce the pressure on our staff to manage the whole progress, detailed budget book and a following-years’ planning.
- At the end, the board and the community have to realize that we are not able to afford many services we have before. The state legislature created a formula which does not favor our county in terms of funding. The local economy is growing slow and highly relies on the property taxes and personal income taxes, and our county tax is the third highest in Maryland. For people living in Columbia, there is an extra 0.67% annual charge too. Our county needs find a way to attract more business and diversify its’ revenue channel.
Our need in the school is changing. Every year, we are going to see another extra 800-1000 students into the school system. Among the new enrollment, about 20% students are students with special needs while right now on average around 10% HCPSS students are of special need. In the last several years, the percentage of Free and Reduced Meal (FARM) student population is increasing, now reaching around 22%. We need more resources and a more efficient and effective method to support our special needs students and low-income students while maintaining a robust academic curriculum for our students. We need a partnership with the community members to address this fast changing scenario. I also see technology and innovation can help to improve the delivery of our education service to our students.
Our employee health care cost is facing two pressures. One is from the existing 37 million dollars’ deficit accumulated over the last several years. The other is the quick increase (over 10%) per year, which means more than 10 million dollars increase each year for the moment. I have already advocated that we should look at more flexible health care plans for our employee and other ways to curb the quick increase of health care cost.
Others in the agenda
- The board approved the schematic design on High School 13 on Mission Road, which is set to open in2023.
- The board also approved the renovation plan for Hammond High School, which is set to finish in2022.
- The board is interested in another comprehensive redistricting due to several crowded schools. We are going to hire a consultant company to do the work. The HCPSS feasibility study will come out in June, the Area Attendance Committee will start to work in in summer and the board will host public forum on this infall. The new changes, should they happen, will take place in 2020 fall.
- The board is also interested in the “starting high school later” initiative.
- The board is working with the county to install “STOP” sign camera on our school bus. On average every day, there are 290 drivers who do not stop while our school bus is stopping on the road. This is a great safety hazard for our students.
Thanks for reading.
Dr. Chao Wu, Board Member Howard County Board of Education www.chaowu.org
MD Educational Equity Policy
Attached is the MABE sample policy on Educational Equity. As all MABE member school boards format and configure their policies in different ways, this sample policy is offered as an aid to MABE members for the creation or revision of that member’s State Board required policy on Educational Equity. This sample policy aligns with the requirements of the new COMAR 13A.01.06.01-05 – Educational Equity.
This sample policy is not required to be adopted in the current format, as it needs to be formatted and configured in light of your school system’s policy requirements and the specific educational equity concerns of each local board. Additionally, there are portions of the sample contained in [brackets] that may or may not be included in your school system policy at the discretion of your board.
MABE’s strategic plan for 2019-2024 calls for the Association to assist member boards in developing a shared understanding and vision of educational equity; by helping them to formulate and implement an equity policy that provides educational equity for each student by creating and maintaining equitable, inclusive, and diverse environments. The MABE Board of Directors and Ad Hoc Equity Committee appreciate your consideration of this important topic.
MABE does not offer legal advice, only information, and urges each member board to seek the advice of your legal counsel.
HCPSS redistricting process started again
Tonight, HoCo BOE directed the superintendent to restart the redistricting process again for the year 2020. I want to make sure we are doing it right this time.
I specifically asked the following to be investigated:
1) if redistricted, HCPSS will probably open all schools for development. Considering our continous debate on APFO, I want to know how this affect school open/close chart and how many more students will be generated. Right now, our school construction(capital projects) just could not catch up with our student growth. This is why we are crowded now. By comprehensive redistricting, we will have more capacity issue even we temporarily solve the number issue for the moment. Please see the open seat calculation based on each school https://chaowu.org/2019/01/21/2018-hcpss-open-seat-calculation-and-projection/.
2) check how many students will be redistricted twice or how many isolated island in polygons. considering the new high school #13 will open in two years (after this)with more than 1600 capacity.
3) what are the travel time, transportation cost for the redistricting proposal? for example, the same distance on 108 may cost 5 minutes, but 25 minutes on Route 1. Maybe the new proposal will save time or cost. maybe not. We need a baseline number.
My suggestion on defining the objective of this redistricting before hiring a consultant was rejected unfortunately by other board members. I want to make sure this BOE will not make the same mistake as the previous BOE on the school starting time investigation. They spent money on consultant and found the solutions were not acceptable at all.
My suggestion on quantifying Policy 6010 was not up. We should put more objective performance indicators in the process. We know redistricting will put many people in high emotion with various reasons. Without sorting this out from the start, it will face obstacles in the future. There are people who want to move other people’s kids. There are people who dont’ want to move at all even at a crowded school. There are people who value their community schools, etc. I saw them all and talked to them all.
I am afraid we will end the same cycle as last year. Let’s try to disrupt our students as less as possible.
Keep tuned. I am looking forward to your feedback again. The board email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
2016 HCPSS Deferred Maintenance Master List (57 millions)
Here is the 2016 report on deferred maintenance master list. Put her for future reference and we need find ways to shrink it. Proactive maintenance usually is much cheaper than deferred maintenance.
2016_04_28_Budget WS -57 million Deferred Maintenance
I will find another list with 500 millions’ need.
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:
- recession is possible
- county revenue growth is slow (1.8% in 2017, 1.3% in 2018)
- APFO legislation may have a negative impact on the revenue
- During last two economic downturns, County revenue plunged by $35 million ($26-$43 million) on average
- County revenue: 49% from property tax, 41% from income tax
- 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.
- County income tax rate (3.2%) is at the highest level in the State
- 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
- A (Significant) Structural Gap Anticipated in Next 6 Years
Here is the document.
2020 HoCo Economic & Fiscal Outlook
Superintendent’s Proposed FY 2020 Operating Budget Summary
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
- 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 – 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
- Business & Technology
- Other Funds
- Unresolved issues and tentative budget decisions
My BOE cluster and committee assignment for 2019
I will be serving 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
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.