My Interview with Columbia Flier

This was published on Nov. 16, 2017. I was email interviewed by the reporter Mr. Andrew Michaels. He asked me the top ONE priority as a new school board member and I honestly just presented one point.

Here are what I believe important to the students, parents and the community:

  1. Motivate all students to learn and achieve their dream
  2. Expand learning opportunities for all students
  3. Have accountability and transparency in HCPSS. Just check the other news that 23M deficit from school health fund.

The online version is here:

As many can see under the candidate introduction, there is the news about $23M deficit from school health fund.  I talked about this problem long time ago and it is the exact example why we need transparency and accountability in HCPSS.

Final 2018 HCPSS School Redistricting

Final 2018 HCPSS School Redistricting

After this long summer and fall with the first feasibility study version, two Area Attendance Committee versions and the superintendent version, the final 2018 HCPSS School redistricting result is out tonight. After the vote, each board member and the superintendent Dr. Martirano shared their thoughts about the process and the result.

To find your polygon number and Final Adopted School Year 2018-19 Attendance Areas (each house is assigned a number( called polygon) and the school is attached with that number) at: ttp://

The original document is here But the polygon number is not there yet and it is hard to read. I will make sure the following polygon numbers are correct. Email me if you find inconsistency.

Elementary School Changes

Sending School          Receiving School      Polygon Number

Bellows Spring            Rockburn                     83,1083

Clements Crossing     Pointers Run               127

Deep Run                     ES #42                           30,1030,2030

Ducketts Lane             ES #42                          33,35,1035,1036,2035,4035

Rockburn ES               ES #42                          32,1032

Manor Woods            Triadelphia                   1171

Manor Woods            Waverly                        304

Manor Woods            West Friendship          171, 178, 179, 1178, 1179

Middle School Changes

Sending School             Receiving School           Polygon Number

Burleigh Manor             Mount View                       171

Harpers Choice             Wilde Lake                          66, 134, 1066, 1134, 2134

Lime Kiln                       Clarksville Middle              117, 118, 120, 123, 126, 127, 296, 1117, 1120, 1123, 1296

Mayfield Woods           Elkridge Landing                83,1083

Thomas Viaduct           Mayfield Woods                  82,2082

High School Changes:

The school uses Jump Start and  Direct Open Enrollment to alleviate the overcrowding schools.

Other Policy Changes:

  1. Allow students at Howard High School, Centennial High School, and Long Reach High School to enroll in the JumpStart Program at Oakland Mills High School or River Hill High School, and to also allow trailing siblings, who will share at least one year in the high school together to enroll at the school of their older sibling in the Jump Start Program. HCPSS will provide transportation through collector sites for the duration of the JumpStart program.
  2. Move that, as capacity allows at Oakland Mills High School or River Hill High School and after students and their siblings are enrolled in the JumpStart Program that students from Centennial High School, Howard High School, and Long Reach High School may apply for directed open enrollment to Oakland Mills High School or River Hill High School. HCPSS will provide transportation through collector sites for the duration of the JumpStart program.
  3. Move to direct the Superintendent to propose revisions to Policy 9000 to support the JumpStart Program, enrollment of siblings of students enrolled in the JumpStart Program, and directed open enrollment, for review on December 7, 2017.
  4. Move that parent(s) may request that their rising eighth grade student remain at their 2017/2018 middle school with transportation provided by parent(s). The parent(s) must apply using the Student Reassignment process as outlined in Policy 9000 Implementation Procedures, Section IV. Student Reassignment Initiated by Parents. Deadlines to request reassignment are to be announced.
  5. Move that parent(s) may request for their student with an Individualized Education Plan or Section 504 plan to remain at their current school until completion of that school level with transportation provided by parents. If transportation is included in the IEP or 504 plan transportation would continue to be provided by HCPSS. The parent must apply using the Student Reassignment process as outlined in Policy 9000 Implementation Procedures, Section IV. Student Reassignment Initiated by Parents. Deadlines to request reassignment are to be announced.
  6. Move that parent(s) who, as defined by Policy 9000, is/are currently active duty military personnel, may request for their student(s) to remain at their current school until completion of the school level, with transportation provided by parents. The parent(s) must apply using the Student Reassignment process as outlined in Policy 9000 Implementation Procedures, Section IV. Student Reassignment Initiated by Parents. Deadlines to request reassignment are to be announced.
  7. The board will continue discussion on the school redistricting if further changes are needed.

Survey on HCPSS superintendent search

The choices are:

1.     INTEGRITY:  Honest and ethical, with strong moral principles, self-confidence and personal performance. Inspires trust and optimism.

2.     PEOPLE SKILLS: Builds relationships and interacts with others respectfully.  Develops productive working relationships to minimize conflict and maximize rapport. Presents a positive image of the school system.

3.     CULTURAL PROFICIENCY:  Responds to the challenges presented by a culturally diverse community.  Demonstrates cultural competence on issues of equitable educational outcomes and diversity.

4.     COMMUNICATION & LISTENING SKILLS: Strong oral and written communicator, willing to listen to stakeholder input. Possesses the ability to work with the media.

5.     INNOVATION & CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT: Knowledgeable regarding emerging research and best practices in education.  Change agent who leads large organizations in innovation and focusses on continuous improvement efforts to enhance student achievement.

6.     STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT:  Able to enhance student performance, as well as identify and close or narrow the gaps in student achievement. Establishes a culture of high expectations for all students and personnel.  Focusses on student needs, and provides for the urgent needs of underachieving students.

7.     WHOLE CHILD & STUDENT FIRST PHILOSOPHY: Committed to a “student first” philosophy.  Creates a learning climate for student achievement and promotes positive student behavior. Addresses the educational and social/emotional outcomes of all students.  Emphasizes preparing every student to maximize his/her potential and graduate from HCPSS ready to enter the job market or begin college.

8.     MOTIVATIONAL LEADER:  Possesses a deep understanding of the teaching and learning process, and promotes the importance of providing a safe and caring school environment. Respects and inspires teachers, administrators, and staff to be student-focused and innovative. Recruits and retains high-caliber staff and teachers throughout the school system. Ensures all staff members receive relevant professional development. Selects school and central office administrators who advance the vision of the school system.

9.     COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIP & COLLABORATION: Community-focused and fosters a collaborative, positive, and professional climate of mutual trust and respect among all stakeholders – faculty, staff, administrators, students, parents, Board of Education, and community members.  Knowledgeable about Howard County, Maryland and HCPSS.  Can build consensus and commitment among individuals and groups. Establishes meaningful, long-term partnerships with a wide range of civic, community, educational, and governmental organizations throughout Howard County and Maryland. Develops and maintains a mutually beneficial relationship between the business community and the school district.

10.  LEGISLATIVE EXPERIENCE:  Can lead an organization throughout the legislative process and works with legislators on key topics.  Works cooperatively with the Board of Education and keeps members informed.

11.  EDUCATION LEVEL & EXPERIENCE:  Has a record of success as an educational leader of a large school district or other institution of similar complexity with and has demonstrated strong leadership skills in previous positions. Possesses an earned Ed.D. or Ph.D. degree.

12.  STRATEGIC PLANNING – VISION & MISSION:  Develops and communicates a vision of quality education for HCPSS students.  Implements educational priorities consistent with the interests and needs of students, staff, board and community. Develops both short and long-range district goals.

13.  BUSINESS MANAGEMENT & FINANCIAL ACUMEN: Demonstrates sound management practices, includes stakeholders in planning and decision-making. Experienced with employee representative groups/unions. Able to delegate authority appropriately while maintaining accountability. Knowledgeable regarding sound fiscal procedures.  Manages the long-term fiscal health and stability of the system.  Ensures efficient daily operations and long-range planning for the school system.

14.  DATA DRIVEN & DECISION MAKING: Clarifies the nature of the problem before deciding on an action, recommendation or decision. Generates alternatives and efficiently selects the best option based on data rather than assumptions or anecdotal input.

15.  RISK TAKING:  Calculates appropriate measures of risk when pursuing goals.  Actions are highly strategic and enhance the overall achievement of the school system.

16.  DEMOCRATIC LEADERSHIP:  Invites stakeholders to participate in the decision-making process.  Open and collegial style allows ideas move freely with open discussion.


My testimony on the School Redistricting

School Redistricting Issues facing our school system

By Chao Wu

Unfortunately I could not speak at the public forum due to a time conflict. Here is my written testimony.


My name is Chao Wu, a candidate running for the 2018 school board. Thanks for the board taking  extraordinary time and discussion on the very important issues we are facing now. I would like to share my thoughts:

1)     Allow walkers be walkers to keep communities together and to minimize the extra transportation time and resources. There are many guidelines in the Policy 6010 to keep contiguous community together.  Walkers are a key and stable part of the community. We hope the board and the superintendent will keep this principle in mind while we find ways to alleviate overcrowding.

 2)     Have a back-up plan and prepare for redistricting to alleviate the overcrowded schools if the superintendent’s JumpStart could not enroll enough students.

 3)     Accelerate the construction of high school #13 and new elementary schools that are much overdue. There is an immediate need for the new high schools and elementary schools. I hope the board can keep working with the county council, county executive, and state government and allow the construction to start as soon as possible.

 4)     Don’t forget the effort on pursuing a more scientific school start time that affects all the County’s children. There are much research indicating the advantages of starting school later.  Some of our high school children have to get up as early as 5:30 AM to board the school bus which is clearly not healthy for our school age children. Last year’s proposals were not able to correct the high school student school time problems without creating new problems. We hope the board and superintendent will not forget this important priority that affects all our children.

 I believe we are a student focused education system. We can do better. We need to find a common sense solution and seek common ground for the benefit of all our students.

First Baltimore Sun Report on my BOE Campaign

This is the first Baltimore Sun report on my BOE campaign. The reporter Andrew Michales emailed me questions and I answered them by email.

Extracted from the newspaper:


Wu, who currently has children in the school system, said his time on the Columbia Association’s Board of Directors has shown him how to incorporate diversity and equity into the decision-making process. Wu has represented the Columbia Village of River Hill on the association’s board and been a board member of the River Hill Village Association since 2015.

Giving children the motivation to achieve is crucial to his platform, Wu said.

“If our children are motivated to learn and excel, there will be no difficulties we could not overcome,” he said. “Each child has different potential and the teacher and school should help to find it and drive the student to achieve that with help from their families.”

The photo was taken from that report.

We Need to Improve Our System Modeling (The Villager 2017-11)

We Need to Improve Our System Modeling

This article is published in the River Hill “The Villager”, November 2017 Issue.

In this column, I will briefly present information about two system modeling problems that negatively impact the River Hill community from Columbia Association (CA) and Howard County Public School System (HCPSS).

Case I: Columbia Association Assessment Share Formula.

A CA work team has been analyzing the formula that determines the amount of money that is distributed to each village association from the assessments paid by Columbia property owners. This Assessment Share forms the foundation for each village’s income stream, with additional revenue generated by rental of the village-managed buildings, newsletter advertising, and various programs and services. As the River Hill Board of Directors was preparing a response to the CA work team on the revised formula, there was a debate on how to simplify the formula. CA board members hear complaints that the current formula is too complicated and a simpler model is needed.

The fallacy is that simplicity results in a better or more accurate model. During the River Hill Board’s discussion, one example of over simplicity identified was with the computation of the newsletter printing costs that was factored into the formula component . The proposed formula uses a flat rate:

formula 1

where x is the printing rate and N is the number of copies. So, if we print 2000 copies, the cost is 2000 * x dollars. If we print 10000 copies, the cost is 10000 * x dollars.  Based on this, the more copies a village needs (a.k., the larger population the village has), the more beneficial the assessment share formula will be. However, in reality, we know printing rates vary depending on the volume of the copies. A slightly better model will account for varying rates, for example:

formula 2

where we have two different printing rates, , for different printing volumes. Usually,  x1 is larger than x2.

As a result, the over-simplified model in Equation (1) gives unfair advantage to villages printing more newsletters. Villages with smaller populations, such as River Hill, are negatively impacted. Similarly, other over-simplified models were used to compute other cost components of the assessment share formula. As a result, the final recommended formula does not accurately reflect the true expenses of each village.

Case II: School Population Prediction.

When Renee Kamen, Manager of Office of School Planning of HCPSS, attended a recent redistricting forum sponsored by the River Hill Community Association, she stated the HCPSS student population prediction model is accurate within 1% error, which implied the predictions model is very accurate. However, based on research by River Hill residents, Pointers Run Elementary School (PRES) consistently receives around 10% more students than predicted by the HCPSS model in recent years. So, the overall accuracy of the model masks the populations in some schools. After examining the actual enrollment numbers at PRES during 2002-2012, analysis shows a continuous decline in student population. However, the student population bounces back very quickly after that. In the HCPSS student projection model, student population at PRES decreases continuously into 2018. Obviously, the HCPSS prediction model does not take into account the current enrollment trend at PRES.

In this case, for each individual school, no matter how accurate the overall prediction is, it does not matter. It only matters when the model predicts the right student number at the school. If not, the model fails. The school system needs to find a way to modify, improve and validate the current student population prediction model as it is being used to support school redistricting.

I hope this article gives you some idea of how an over-simplified or inaccurate model can impact our community and the importance of  getting the mathematical modeling correct.


Chao Wu, Ph.D.

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

Email:  Website:

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.