How to find the triangle between technical correctness, organizational implementation and political support and provide opportunities for all students is always a challenging work.
Technical correctness analysis needs establish a baseline for the outcome we expect. For example, when we talk about 100% high school graduation rate, we should know that is not technical correct. However, it will gain political support. A controlled study for technical correctness will be an important study to create a baseline.
Organizational implementation needs check the reality due to the limited budget the school has. How to pull the resources together to support the equity work is not straightforward. Then organization change may happen if a new superintendent comes online. We should remember nationally a superintendent’s tenure is 3.2 years which is less than a four year contract. So a sustainable long term, organizational implementation plan should be created.
There is no doubt that political support is always here. However, due to different understanding on how to achieve the goal and help our students’ to achieve their full potential, there is a high possibility that different opinions will arise. How a program should start and be implemented will vary. Unfortunately these different opinions may be viewed as not supporting school equity. We need overcome this type of accusation.
The Attendance Area Committee (AAC) began its work Tuesday, June 18 to review options presented in the 2019 Feasibility Study and make recommendations to the Superintendent. The AAC’s recommendations will help inform Dr. Martirano’s proposal to the Board of Education, scheduled to be presented during the August 20 Board meeting.
Led by Scott Leopold from Cooperative Strategies, LLC, the meeting began with group introductions, followed by an explanation of the role of the committee and legal obligations under the Open Meetings Act, and a review of HCPSS Policy 6010 – School Attendance Areas. The committee then became familiar with the options described in the Feasibility Study. Draft meeting minutes and upcoming meeting agendas can be found online.
Per Board of Education Policy 6010, the Superintendent appointed to the AAC individuals who represent every planning region in the county and have previously served HCPSS in advisory roles, as a member of an advisory committee or partner community organization. Group members include a former HCPSS administrator and a current student. Two individuals were tapped from one of the last three AACs to provide historical perspective.
AAC meetings will not be streamed online but are open to any member of the public who wishes to observe. AAC meetings will be held at Atholton High School at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, June 25, Tuesday, July 2 and Tuesday, July 9.
Community Input Sessions
Four community input sessions have been scheduled for community members to receive information related to the boundary review process and provide their input for the Superintendent’s consideration prior to his August 20 recommendation to the Board.
Families are encouraged to attend the session associated with the region in which they live based on School Locator. Those who cannot attend their region’s session should attend the county-wide session at Long Reach High School on Saturday, July 13 or may attend one of the other regional sessions. While RSVP is not required, it is highly encouraged. Online RSVP Form
Wednesday, July 10, 7–9 p.m. at Oakland Mills High School
Families currently zoned for Centennial HS, Howard HS, Mt. Hebron HS, Oakland Mills HS
Saturday, July 13, 9–11 a.m. at Long Reach High School
Available to any family that is unable to attend their regional meeting.
Tuesday, July 16, 7–9 p.m. at Atholton High School
Families currently zoned for Atholton HS, Hammond HS, Long Reach HS, Wilde Lake HS
Thursday, July 18, 7–9 p.m. at River Hill High School
Families currently zoned for Glenelg HS, Marriotts Ridge HS, Reservoir HS, River Hill HS
Online Input Forms Now Open
Members of the community may provide online feedback on the 2019 Feasibility Study to help inform the Superintendent’s recommendations to the Board of Education or submit alternate boundary options to be considered as part of the boundary review process.
These online input options will remain available until August 1. Following the Superintendent’s presentation to the Board on August 20, the Board will provide additional input and feedback options.
More information on the Boundary Review process can be found at the HCPSS website.
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.
On January 24, the Board of Education directed that HCPSS initiate a systemwide school boundary review, which could potentially impact any or all of the 74 comprehensive schools in our system for the 2020-2021 school year. This review is critical due to population growth that has resulted in crowding at many schools while schools in other areas are underutilized.
This boundary review will be structured differently than in the past, with process improvements to ensure that feedback is focused on the ideas presented in the Feasibility Study and provided in a format that staff can use to improve solutions. I want to emphasize that I value the needs and perspectives of all of our students, families and staff. I also want to make it clear that I will assign no special consideration for the priorities of any individual or specific planning area representatives, no matter how vocal or well-organized. Every stakeholder will have multiple and equitable available ways to receive accurate information and provide input.
The boundary review process will begin on June 13 with the release of the 2019 Feasibility Study. Community members will be invited to share feedback and recommendations through an online input form, four community input sessions, and three public hearings. The 2019 Feasibility Study:
Provides possible options based on data and available capacity for boundary adjustments.
Is a comprehensive look at the 10-year student enrollment projections for county schools.
Is based on the most currently available data, including population growth based on students yielded from sales of existing housing and from projected new housing units, and FARMs program participation.
The 2019 Feasibility Study includes data that is carefully analyzed by independent consultant Cooperative Strategies, LLC. Pending available funding in the FY2020 budget, Cooperative Strategies, LLC, will also serve as a neutral facilitator for the process. The consultant will oversee the AAC’s work, test alternative scenarios, collect and compile public input, respond to questions and information needs, and advise me on a solution.
Attendance Area Committee (AAC)
This advisory committee reviews options presented in the Feasibility Study and makes recommendations to me to help inform my proposal to the Board, scheduled to be presented on August 20.
Members will represent community diversity and every planning region in the county, and include individuals who have served HCPSS in advisory roles or as partners.
The AAC reviews Policy 6010-School Attendance Areas and the contents of the Feasibility Study, and reports its recommendations to me in July.
AAC meetings are public, but the AAC is not responsible for gathering public input or developing attendance area scenarios.
Community members have multiple opportunities and ways to provide input and recommendations.
Superintendent’s Recommendation Public Input Opportunities*
Online input form: open June 14 through August 1
Community input sessions – to provide feedback to me (Families may attend the session associated with the region in which they live based on the school locator map. Those who cannot attend their region’s session may attend Long Reach HS on Saturday, July 13. Families should attend only one session.)
Wednesday, July 10, 7-9 p.m. at Oakland Mills High School
Families currently zoned for Centennial HS, Howard HS, Mt. Hebron HS, Oakland Mills HS
Saturday, July 13, 9-11 a.m. at Long Reach High School
Available to any family that is unable to attend their regional session
Tuesday, July 16, 7-9 p.m. at Atholton High School
Families currently zoned for Atholton HS, Hammond HS, Long Reach HS, Wilde Lake HS
Thursday, July 18, 7-9 p.m. at River Hill High School
Families currently zoned for Glenelg HS, Marriotts Ridge HS, Reservoir HS, River Hill HS
*Outside of these opportunities we will not be scheduling special town halls and meetings specific to a geographic or planning area.
Stakeholders who lack access to technology and are unable attend an input session may mail feedback to the School Planning Office, 9020 Mendenhall Ct., Columbia MD 21045. Print copies of the online feedback form will be provided in limited quantities to school offices.
Board of Education Public Input Opportunities
Board public hearings:
Tuesday, September 17, 7 p.m.
Tuesday, September 24, 7 p.m.
Thursday, September 26, 7 p.m.
Full information and updates, including a schedule and answers to frequently asked questions, will be available on the HCPSS website. We will also provide regular updates via our weekly HCPSS News emails and social media accounts. Additionally, we would like to receive your questions related specifically to the way the boundary review process is being conducted and communication and engagement efforts.
Language supports will be available upon request for any stakeholder. This letter will be provided to school administrators, community liaisons and the International Student and Family Services office to share with families who may lack Internet access.
A successful outcome for this process depends directly on the level of respect, empathy and careful listening that we as adults model for our children. We must remember that they will follow our lead in responding positively to the challenges and changes that are inevitable throughout life. I ask our community to practice civility during what can be an emotional process.
Every child in Howard County public schools will continue to have access to an excellent education. HCPSS is not a system of individual schools, but a cohesive school system with consistent curriculum, excellent teachers, and comparable opportunities at every school.
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.
Would you like to visit some of Columbia’s sister cities? These two 2019 trips will allow adults and families to visit Tema, Ghana, and Liyang, China, on tours organized by travel agents who are members of our Tema and Liyang sister city committees. They are reasonably priced and offer the opportunity to travel with people from this area.
10-day trip to Tema, Ghana — August 12-23
15-day trip to Liyang, China — October 16-31
Information sessions will be held from 7-8:30pm at Columbia Association Headquarters, 6310 Hillside Court, on the following dates:
This is the presentation delivered to the school board by Mr. Mark Blom, General Counsel. He presented this at the National School Boards Association’s annual conference on Promoting Student Diversity through Student Assignment Initiatives.
HCPSS Seeks Members for Policy Development/Revision Committees
Applications Due by May 31, 2019
Ellicott City, Maryland —The Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) invites citizens to take an active role in developing and revising school system policies as members of policy development/revision committees.
HCPSS is currently seeking candidates for membership on the following 2019-2020 Policy Development/Revision Committees:
Policy 1050 Tobacco-Free Environment/Policy, and Policy 9230 Alcohol, Other Drugs, Prescription Medication and Over the Counter Products (one committee will review both policies)
Policy 4010 Donations/Policy 4020 Fund Raising (one committee will review both policies)
Policy 4030 School Activity Funds
Policy 7000 Workplace Diversity
Policy 7120 Coaches and Advisors of High School Extracurricular Activities
Policy 8080 Responsible Use of Technology and Social Media
Policy 9010 Attendance
Each committee will include one member representing the General Citizens stakeholder group. Each policy committee typically meets 3-5 times, beginning in August or September, to discuss and make policy recommendations regarding educational programs and school system operations. Selected citizens will be contacted by July 1 with tentative committee meeting dates.
The knowledge, experience and perspective shared by community stakeholders are used to improve the policy review process and ensure transparency at every stage of the committee’s work. All current HCPSS policies can be viewed online.
Howard County citizens interested in participating may submit a statement of interest online, or contact the Policy Office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 410-313-8954. Please complete and submit a separate statement of interest for each policy committee of interest. The deadline for submissions is Friday, May 31, 2019.
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?
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.
I was interviewed by Maryland Public Television last year and it was shown around 49:12. How we can revitalize Columbia villages and re-ignite Jim Rouse’s vision to continue the prosperity and hope, diversity and inclusion will be the challenge for all of us here.
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.
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.
Columbia Association, under the guidance of its Board of Directors, develops a strategic plan every five years that identifies goals and initiatives and sets the direction for CA for the next five years and beyond. The current strategic plan began in fiscal year 2014 and culminates with the close of fiscal year 2019 on April 30.
We began the strategic planning process for FY2020-24 in fall 2018, hiring a consultant to help guide CA through the process of creating a new plan. His comments on CA’s FY2014-19 strategic plan are available here. We are currently in the phase of the process where a draft mission statement, vision statement, and strategic goals have been developed and are being provided to the community for feedback.
Our community has already served as an important resource during earlier stages of this process. We gathered input from a wide range of perspectives, surveying thousands of residents as well as our employees. Additionally, we held focus groups with village chairs, advisory committees, and other local stakeholders and leaders. A summary of those responses is available here.
CA’s Board of Directors met with CA’s senior leadership team for strategic planning sessions on March 9 and March 30, discussing the considerable input already collected from the community and drafting the mission, vision and strategic goals.
Further input will be welcomed during Resident Speakout at the CA Board of Directors meeting on Thursday, April 25 and work session on Thursday, May 9. If you are unable to attend, we are also gathering input on our draft mission, vision and goals using the comment box below. Community members also may share their comments with their representative on CA’s Board of Directors.
It is anticipated that after further discussion by CA’s Board of Directors at the meeting and work session noted above, the board will vote on the strategic plan on Thursday, May 23.
We have crafted an initial version of the FY2020-24 strategic plan. An excerpt is below; to read the report with the overview, please click here.
CA board members can be reached atBoard.Members@ColumbiaAssociation.org
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.
Policy 1060 – Bullying, Cyberbullying, Harassment, or Intimidation
The purpose of this policy is to establish expectations for maintaining a safe and respectful school climate and workplace in the HCPSS where bullying, cyberbullying, harassment, and intimidation are not tolerated. This policy also provides standards for identifying and preventing bullying, cyberbullying, harassing, or intimidating behavior, as well as intervening and supporting students and employees who are exhibiting bullying, cyberbullying, harassing, or intimidating behavior or who are targets/victims of bullying, cyberbullying, harassment, or intimidation.
HCPSS will not tolerate any kinds of bullying, cyberbullying and harassment and intimidation. What has been reported by Baltimore Sun to one of our students is really tragical. We will make sure proper and prompt actions will be taken to help the victim and help the bully accountable.
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