HCPSS Seeks Members for Instructional Technology and Library Media Advisory Board, by Dec. 21, 2021

HCPSS Seeks Members for Instructional Technology and Library Media Advisory Board, by Dec. 21, 2021

Apply by Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2021

HCPSS is currently seeking Howard County parents/guardians, community members and staff interested in joining the Instructional Technology and Library Media Advisory Board. Committee members share their expertise and exchange ideas to advise, support, and advocate for the continuous improvement of the instructional technology and library media program and support students in becoming college and career-ready.

The advisory board supports HCPSS staff in:

  • Establishing short and long range goals for services, resources, and technology integration
  • Maintaining a current collection policy/collection development plan
  • Implementing special program activities and celebrations
  • Advocating for the instructional technology and library media program by encouraging community support and funding

The committee will meet periodically during the school year, with the first meeting on Friday, Jan. 7 from 7:30-9 a.m., which will be held virtually. Future meeting dates will be determined at the Jan. 7 meeting.

Interested participants are asked to submit a statement of interest by Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2021.

For more information, please contact the Office of Instructional Technology and Library Media at 410-313-7141 or email Melissa_Daggett@hcpss.org or Julie_Wray@hcpss.org.

Board meeting recap 2021-12-16

Board meeting recap 2021-12-16

Public forum:

topics: covid concern at some high schools, school sports cancellation issue,

Superintendent Report

As of yesterday, December 15, our seven-day total of positive COVID cases among students was 333 and 49 among staff, and we had 3,712 students and 132 staff members in quarantine. We have 26 current active outbreaks but please note that this number is not fully reflected on the Maryland Department of Health website due to its recent hack. We have a total of 170 students who were initially identified as close contacts and ultimately tested positive over the
14-day quarantine period.

The numbers speak for themselves. For reference, on Nov. 18, our seven-day total of positive COVID cases in schools was 75, with 1,151 students and 34 staff members in quarantine. As of yesterday morning, we were nearing 300 positive COVID cases in schools for the first three days of the week. Since that announcement yesterday we have already seen over 250 additional positive COVID-19 cases and that is just as of 1 pm today.

We have all witnessed too many stories of violence and threats at schools across the nation. Unfortunately, we have experienced similar situations right here in Howard County schools.

Dr. Russo talked about Oakland Mills HS and Hammond HS’s outbreaks. Dr. Rossman talked about testing for athletes as one mitigation method. Dr. Rossman also said there was no higher infection rate in cafeteria.

Motion Passed:

  1. Move that the Board direct the Superintendent to immediately resume all in-person outdoor activities and indoor activities which has mask mandating and to initiate a test to play for sports on January 3, 2022.
  2. Move that, for SY21-22 only, Midterms be suspended, and finals be given a grade weight of 10%.

Student Representative Report

Wilde Lake High School

Student Board Member Report

Personnel

A lot of promotions and transfer

Policy 6010 School Attendance Areas

approved with some revisions

Board meeting recap 2021-12-7

I am beginning to document some board discussion and voting for easy digestion.

If you register to speak virtually, please make sure your name on Zoom matched your registered name such that our tech team will move you to be a speaker.

The board elected Ms. Vicky Cutroneo as Chair and Ms. Antonia Watts as vice chair.

Public forum topics: LGBTQ+ textbooks, Musgrove Farm Shared Septic, African American/Special Education, plastic bag usage in lunch, mask requirement for stage performance.

Report from Howard County High School

SMOB report: school visits, etc

Superintendent Report:

Celebration:

● This year’s Merrill teacher honorees include Samuel Polack, GT resource teacher at Rockburn Elementary School, who years ago taught 4th and 5th grade GT math to UMD Merrill student honoree William Gerst.
● Next, Paula Roberts, a math teacher at Howard High School, was recognized by her former student Eunice Braimoh.
● Two teachers at Atholton High School are also being honored: Lynette Burns is a GT teacher, whose former student was Ally Merwitz.
● The other Atholton honoree is Jennifer Street, a world language teacher and instructional team leader, whose former student was Selena Cen.

Covid Update:

I have an update on our school health metrics. As of yesterday, December 6th, our seven-day total of positive COVID cases in schools was 95, and we had 1,172 students and 31 staff members in quarantine. We have 16 current active outbreaks; please note that this number is not reflected on the Maryland Department of Health website due to
its recent hack. We have a total of 58 students who were initially identified as close contacts and ultimately tested positive over the 14-day quarantine period. Overall, our numbers remain similar to those that I reported on November 18.

I am pleased to note that as of Friday, December 3, 85.2% of Howard County 12-17 year olds are fully vaccinated, with 92.6% having received their first dose. It is also encouraging that 37.4%, or approximately 12,000 children ages 5-11
have already received their first dose.

At this time there will be no change to our current protocol requiring indoor masking for all students, staff and community members, regardless of vaccination status.

Tents:

All tents are now being removed in decreasing order of school capacity utilization, which is the same as the order in which they were installed. They will be reinstalled outside each elementary school at the beginning of March 2022, with the specific timing dependent on weather condition

Staffing shortage and hiring effort

Incident at Howard High School

Special Education Statement:

I will not remove students receiving special education services from their classroom or school, or reduce or eliminate special education services.

Motion:

The board approved a motion: student performers have the same standard as student athletes on mask protocol.

Appointments

HCEA (HoCo Education Association) and HCASA(HoCo Association of Supervisors and Administrators)

School Construction Report

  • Hammond High School, 45% completed, ready in 2023
  • HS 13, 39.6% completed, ready in 2023
  • Talbott Spring ES, 42.9%, ready in 2022

Policy Discussions

  1. Report: Policy 6060 Community Improvement to School Sites or School Facilities Charter
  2. Report: Policy 4050 Procurement of Goods and/or Services Charter
  3. Report: Policy 8020 Grading and Reporting: Middle and High School (new cycle)
  4. Approved: Policy 8100 Field Trips.
    • The purpose of this modification is to allow JROTC instructors to accompany students on field trips as they are not MSDE certified. The definition of Teacher-in-Charge was modified to include Department of Defense (DoD) Certified JROTC Instructors.
  5. Approved: Policy 8010 Grading and Reporting: Prekindergarten through Grade 5
    • The purpose of this modification is to clarify that during SY21-22, students who must quarantine due to COVID-19 exposure or possible exposure but can otherwise participate in instruction would still receive additional days to hand in assignments as occurs when students have lawful absences.
  6. Approved: Policy 8020 Grading and Reporting: Middle and High School
    • For year 2021-2022 year only
    • The purpose of these modifications are, for SY21-22 only, to revise the final course grade to 5% for midterms and 5% for final examinations and clarify that during SY21-22, students who must quarantine due to COVID-19 exposure or possible exposure but can otherwise participate in instruction would still receive additional days to hand in assignments as occurs when students have lawful absences.
  7. Approved: Policy 3030 Research Involving Employees and Students

Evening Public Forum

topics covered: SMOB election, student wellness and student search and seizure

Public Hearing on Policy

  1. Policy 2010 Student Representation
  2. Policy 9090 Wellness through Nutrition and Physical Activity
  3. Policy 9260 Student Search and Seizure

Administrative Agenda

  • The board denied the charter school application ( Reading Opens Doors Charter School)

Presentation: the Ideas behind the blueprint for Maryland future with Wu comments

THE IDEAS BEHIND THE BLUEPRINT FOR MARYLAND’S FUTURE
A Presentation To The Accountability And Implementation Board

National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE) Briefing on the Ideas Behind the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future in Four Parts

Marc Tucker, President Emeritus
Betsy Brown Ruzzi, Vice President Emeritus

Quick summary: The presentation is not of high quality, and some key facts are wrong because the authors mixed things together.

I believe the authors for this report failed to separate the Maryland, Maryland counties, USA, world cities, city-like countries and provide a much more solid analytic solution/suggestion for us. I know the comments may be a little harsh. Unfortunately, this presentation will be used for policy makers to make important policies. AIB has to figure out a way to fund the blueprint first.

  1. Starting the report, there is a problem. Comparing with Finland, Ontario(Canada), Shanghai (China) and Singapore, four of the highest performing jurisdictions on OECD’s PISA surveys. This is a wrong comparison. In order to have a better comparison, beyond the education part, the demographics, political, culture, economical aspects should be included in the discussion. Education is not alone in this discussion. Education is intertwined with other parts of the society. If we could not compare or change other part of our society, we should not expect we can change/reform education as other societies are doing.
  2. Ignore AAPI students in their report. I got it. It is a typical stereotype that AAPI students are not American students such that they did not realize they miss their presence in their presentation, or assuming they are doing very well academically, they don’t count AAPI students in their discussion.
  3. Put the wrong facts to support their point of view. For example, students in poor counties in Maryland actually receives higher(or no less) spending per student. NCEE probably used some talking points from their templates and they did not look at the true numbers in Maryland.
  4. Childcare supports are much stronger in many other countries as the report correctly stated. One key reason is that they have much lower birth rate. The government has to put the incentive to encourage the birth rate.
    1. By the way, if you have more kids, each kid will receive less attention and resources given everything else is the same.
  5. Make CTE attractive and prestigious. This an important point. I totally agree with it.
  6. There is some made-up stuff: for example (Page 71, the PDF page number): For more than 20 years, accountability in the United States has meant threatening schools with takeovers and teachers with firing if their students failed to meet state targets for student performance. There may be some marginal discussion on this in other states, but I never heard this in Maryland. The report focuses on Maryland blueprint but puts the wrong/inappropriate content in the presentation. At the same time, the report did not discuss/mention another dominant policy maker on the table: the teacher union.

There are many other points I don’t want to highlight. The report is very long.

One suggestion based on my personal experience

  1. Don’t lower the admission bar for teachers in college application but offer free tuition for students who choose teaching as career. A few of my relatives (brothers and sisters) studied hard and became great teachers following this philosophy.
  2. Can Maryland do this? Yes. It can. Assume $30k per student per year, for 1000 teacher. The cost is 30 million dollars in the state budget. Furthermore, if we consider 10% of teachers (in total, we have around 60k teachers in MD) coming from this trajectory, it costs only 180 million dollars per year. At the same time, we can get rid of many promotional or wasteful programs for this purpose.

The presentation is attached below:

HCPSS Commits to Incentive Pay for All Bus Drivers, Attendants and Contractors

HCPSS Commits to Incentive Pay for All Bus Drivers, Attendants and Contractors

HCPSS Commits to $5,000 Incentive Pay for All Bus Drivers and Attendants; Up to $4,000 Incentive Pay for Newly Hired Drivers; Up to $3,000 for Bus Contractors to Help Fill Inactive Routes

The Howard County Board of Education took action today to begin addressing the bus driver shortage that has impacted HCPSS since the beginning of the school year. The Board approved amendments to transportation contracts to provide a financial incentive for school bus drivers and attendants. This action would not have been possible without a $2 million commitment from County Executive Calvin Ball. The remaining costs will be covered with transportation savings in HCPSS’s budget. The additional funding will provide:

  • $5,000 in one-time incentives for all current bus drivers and attendants;
  • $1,500 signing bonus and up to a total of $2,500 in monthly incentive payments for all newly hired bus drivers and attendants;
  • $3,000 over three months to help bus contractors with driver shortages recruit and hire new staff to activate the remaining 95 routes; and
  • A 10% payment to bus contractors for each incentive bonus paid to bus drivers and attendants for overhead costs.

The school system wants to help bus drivers during this difficult time by getting these funds directly into their pockets. The initial $2,500 incentive bonuses for current bus drivers and attendants will be disbursed to all bus contractors within ten days of execution of the amended contracts and the remaining $2,500 will be paid monthly through the end of the school year.

The Howard County Public School System contracts its bus services to several local vendors, who will distribute the bonuses to their employees and will be required to provide verification to HCPSS that bus drivers and attendants received their payments timely.

While these short-term financial incentives are necessary to remain competitive as many other districts explore similar incentives, the long-term sustainability of transportation operations will require several strategies. HCPSS will work with bus contractors to examine the feasibility of increasing bus driver pay and benefits to support the recruitment and retention of high-quality bus drivers.

Since the start of the school year, HCPSS has experienced a shortage of approximately 95 bus drivers. The driver shortage has required many doubled bus routes, causing many students to arrive at school early or remain later at the end of the school day and resulting in significant challenges and inconvenience for drivers, families and school staff. Addressing the bus driver shortage requires a sustained effort and multiple action pathways. HCPSS has implemented a number of outreach initiatives, including recent hiring fairs, in order to attract new drivers and staff in other critical shortage areas, and will continue to work with bus contractors in an effort to reduce the number of driver shortages.

The Superintendent and Board of Education members thanked the County Executive for the county’s commitment of American Rescue Plan funding to help support this effort.

HCPSS Seeks Members for Policy Advisory Committees

HCPSS Seeks Members for Policy Advisory Committees

Application Deadline: Friday, Nov. 12, 2021

Ellicott City, Maryland — The Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) invites county residents to take an active role in developing and revising school system policies as members of policy advisory committees. The knowledge, experience and perspective shared by community stakeholders are used to improve the quality of HCPSS policy.

HCPSS is currently seeking candidates for membership on the following Policy Advisory Committees:

  • Policy 4050 Procurement of Goods and/or Services
  • Policy 6060 Community Improvement to School Sites or School Facilities

The committees will include at least one member representing the general resident stakeholder group. Members of this committee attend 3-4 meetings to discuss and make policy recommendations to the Superintendent. Meetings will be held virtually and are tentatively scheduled as follows:

  • Policy 4050: Dec. 9 and 20, 2021; Jan. 3 and 10, 2022 
  • Policy 6060: Dec. 9 and 15, 2021; Jan. 5 and 12, 2022

Committee members are expected to attend/participate in all committee meetings. 

Residents interested in participating may submit a statement of interestonline by Friday, Nov. 12, 2021. A confirmation email with additional details will be sent to the individual selected to participate on the committee.

Please contact HCPSS policy staff at policy@hcpss.org with any questions. All current HCPSS policies can be viewed online.
 

My failed motion at MABE

During this year’s Maryland Association of Board of Education (MABE) annual meeting, because the ongoing hate and violent crime against AAPI community, I proposed a resolution to expand and enhance the public school curriculum to reflect the diverse community needs and include more contents for AAPIs, African Americans, Latino Americans, Native Americans, LGBTQ+, and persons with disabilities.

Unfortunately the motion failed. I will continue to advocate to have a more diverse and inclusive public school curriculum in the future.

The following is the text, drafted by me, revised by MABE staff and reviewed by the MABE resolution committee.

Proposed amendments to the Curriculum and Assessments resolution:

Insert on page 39 after the last WHEREAS clause:

WHEREAS, anti-Asian harassment and violence has a long history in the United States and more than 9,000 Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) hate crimes were reported in 2020 and 2021 including the murder of six Asian American women in Atlanta on March 16, 2021; and

WHEREAS, the State Content Standards and Framework for Grade 6-8 Social Studies are designed so that each “student will understand the diversity and commonality, human interdependence, and global cooperation of the people of Maryland, the United States, and the World through a multicultural and a historic perspective”;

Insert on page 39 before the last BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED clause:

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that MABE supports the exercise of local board authority to ensure that local curriculum and instruction reflect the diversity, commonality, and right to be free from harassment and violence of all persons, including Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI), African Americans, Latino Americans, Native Americans, LGBTQ+ persons, and persons with disabilities; and

生命的轮回

生命的轮回
By 伍超

当鲜花凋零的时候
我们是否还记得曾经的璀璨
或许
那只是记忆中的斑斓

当生命渐微的时候
我们是否还记得曾经的豪言
或许
那只是梦境中的云端

有太多的不舍难以放弃
有太多的情感无以释怀
或许
那只是生命轮回中的烛台
燃过去,照现在,见未来

轮回是伤感的别离
别离是生命的轮回

This poem is dedicated to a close friend who is in home hospice now. I cherish their family’s long term friendship and support for me. I could only wish life can be reversed.

HCPSS Student Yield Per House Unit Increasing

There have been discussions on the student yield per house unit, especially the resale yield and new development yield. Please see my other article: https://chaowu.org/2021/05/30/latency-and-disconnect-in-the-new-construction-yield-and-school-over-capacity/ . I have strong opposition to use new development yield to plan for new housing development. There is no need to use two yield numbers as the Howard County Council used before. Just use a moving average number per school level is good enough to project student growth. I believe many families moving into Howard County for better education and we should try our best to provide that education support and maintain that quality.

Based on data collected, originally from Drew Roth, then augmented by Arthur Wang, I computed the student yield per house unit. Thank you, Drew and Arthur. I removed the enrollment data of 2020 and 2021 because of pandemic and only use the data between 2013-2019.

From Figure 1, we could see the trend is clear: HCPSS Student Number per House Unit is increasing over years. There are possible reasons (demographic shift) I can think of right now (a little over simplified):

  1. Newly developed homes have more students per house unit than old homes do.
  2. Senior residents without school age children moving out faster than families with children moved in.
  3. On average, families moving in have more children than families moving out.
Figure 1
Figure 2
Figure 3
Figure 4

The data is attached below:

I would love to hear your feedback and refine my analysis.

Updated HCPSS FY 2023-2032 Long Range Master Capital Plan

Updated HCPSS FY 2023-2032 Long Range Master Capital Plan

We will have three capital projects finished in FY 2023(Talbott Springs ES, HS 13 (Jessup High School), Hammond HS renovation).

Then we will have Dunloggin MS, new ES 43, Oakland Mills MS and Oakland Mills HS, Centennial HS in the pipelines. After that, we will have ES44, HS 14, Patapsco MS and Jeffers Hill ES.

What we need to do now is to ask the County to fund these projects. For all the projects, we need the county to commit the funding, then the state matching funding will come it.

My APFO questions

On Monday, BOE and County Council had a conversation on the APFO. I raised a few questions:

  1. In the overarching objective, I did not see “meet residents’ needs” as a goal of APFO.
  2. The low impact fee or surcharge fee is a huge problem for the long deferred maintenance we are facing now. HCPSS is in a crisis of overcrowded and short of capital project funding. Schools we are building now will need significant renovation in 20 years, which is actually quicker than many people think. Our newest, Marriotts Ridge High School, many people still feel it is new, actually was built in 2005 and it is 16 years old already.
  3. In the traffic study section, I strongly opposed that traffic study was paid and presented by the developers themselves. The study should be impartial. The county should collect fees from developers and outsource that study to a third independent party. The same principles should apply to other studies too.
  4. There is a problem using the resale and new development yield number as presented for the county to project new housing student yield. The yield for new house development only consider the first year number and did not consider the accumulated impact.

Attached please see the latest APFO.

Please share your feedback with us. I am going to have some further discussions with county council members on this.

Speech at New Educator Orientation

Good morning.

I’m pleased to be among the first to welcome each of you to our school system. Though we are all wearing masks, that doesn’t change this message of welcoming.

As a new educator or an educator taking on a new opportunity, you’re at the start of a wonderful professional journey. You are sure to enjoy many fulfilling and exciting moments during your first year and in the years to come. At the same time, the first year of teaching is always challenging, and we know the pandemic brings some additional challenges.

Please know that the school system, your home school, and this community are here for you, and we will support you every step of the way. We all want to help you with a good start, and make sure you have the support and resources you’ll need to be successful.

You, our educators and staff, can only be at their best if you feel valued and effective in your roles. An excellent program of professional development has been prepared to support you, starting with this orientation and continuing throughout your career with our school system.

The road you have chosen is one of the most meaningful and rewarding life adventures that anyone can experience. I thank you for committing to the education profession and joining our school system, especially during this unprecedented time. After seeing what has happened and is happening in this country, I would say we need to rejuvenate the teaching of science and democracy. We should teach our students to be good people, and remind them of their responsibility in this world.

I belong to a family of teachers. My older brother, sister-in-law, and my three little brothers and sisters are all teachers. Their dedication and support for their students always inspire me. In reflection of my own teachers and professors, I credit my success today to them, because they trusted me to be capable of achieving something. That trust broke the barrier of poverty and instability and propelled me forward.

I am also looking forward to our own community, our parents, our students, and community leaders showing their support for you. Each of them has an important role to play.

Meanwhile, I am looking forward to society and culture support for your work. The education of the younger generation lays the foundation for this country’s future.

On behalf of the Board of Education, congratulations, and welcome once again to the Howard County Public School System.

Fall 2021 USNA Admissions Candidate Visits

2021 United States Naval Academy Admission Candidate Visit

Senator Van Hollen’s office is excited to share the information below regarding admissions candidate visits to the U.S. Naval Academy (USNA).  We encourage you to share this invitation with students and others who may be interested in attending.  Please note that these visits are intended for current high school seniors and others applying for admission to USNA this year.

If you have any questions, please contact USNA Admissions at (410) 293-1858 or online at https://www.usna.edu/Admissions

Senator Van Hollen is very responsive to constitutes. I had the honor to meet him a few times in the past.

2021 Update on Cafeteria Protocols and Self Check Reminders

These are latest update for the school opening on August 30,2021.

Last week, a message was sent detailing several updates related to the start of the 2021-2022 school year. Below is additional information authorized by the superintendent related specifically to cafeteria protocols and the self check process that every family will be expected to perform daily before sending their child to school.

Cafeteria Updates

There are several updates related to cafeteria protocols to further reduce the risk of the spread of COVID-19. All schools will have outdoor eating spaces available on campus for student use as weather and staffing permits to lessen the number of students in the cafeteria. In an effort to maintain a healthy environment in cafeterias, the following actions are being implemented: 

  • Additional tables have been ordered and will be distributed to schools to help ensure outside eating areas are furnished as well as to allow maximum spacing indoors. 

  • Based on the availability of products from vendors, large tents that are compliant with local code will be provided to elementary schools to increase outdoor dining spaces. We anticipate a number of tents will be in place to begin the school year with additional tents being provided in September.

  • Plexiglass shields for indoor cafeteria tables are being secured for grades k-6 where students are largely unable to be vaccinated. These panels will provide additional protection between students who are unable to be vaccinated while eating when masks cannot be worn.


COVID-19 Self-Screening Symptoms Self Check

Parents/guardians should keep their children home if they are experiencing symptom(s) associated with any communicable disease, including COVID-19. In addition, parents/guardians are to perform the following COVID-19 health check every day before the student leaves home.

A child should NOT come to school with any of these symptoms:

  • Fever of 100.4 degrees or higher

  • Sore throat

  • Cough

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Diarrhea or vomiting

  • New onset of severe headache (especially with fever), or

  • New loss of taste or smell


For persons with chronic conditions such as asthma, the symptoms should represent a change from baseline.

Children exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 may not attend school. 

Please visit the HCPSS website for additional information on self screening, contact tracing and quarantining procedures. Additionally, visit the HCPSS website for more information on the 2021-2022 school year and answers to frequently asked questions.

Important 2021-2022 School Bus Transportation Update ( driver shortage, longer bus ride)

Important 2021-2022 School Bus Transportation Update ( driver shortage, longer bus ride)

Dear HCPSS families,

On Monday, August 30, 2021, HCPSS schools will welcome approximately 58,000 students back into our school buildings amidst many challenges that linger while the pandemic continues. One such challenge is a significant shortage of bus drivers.

Despite the efforts of partner organizations and groups across the county this summer to assist bus contractors in attracting more drivers, HCPSS contractors currently have only 80% of the drivers necessary to cover all routes, which equates to 93 current vacancies. School districts in many of our neighboring counties and across the United States are experiencing a similar driver shortage. 

In order to provide transportation services to all eligible students by using the existing buses and drivers available, many bus routes and bus stops will look different than what families have experienced in past years.

To accommodate the shortage in drivers, buses will run double routes for some schools, picking up and dropping off students in groups. For example, a bus would pick up and drop off students assigned to Group A and then circle back to pick up Group B. This will create a larger-than-typical window of time between when the first students are dropped off at school and the time instruction begins. The first group of students will be dropped off at school approximately 30 minutes prior to the arrival time of the second group. All students will have at least 10 minutes for breakfast prior to the start of the instructional day. The same process will take place after school with the goal of no more than 30 minutes between the time the first and second groups leave school. 

Students who are at school and awaiting instruction or bus pickup will be supervised by HCPSS staff. Please note that this will not impact the number of instructional hours students receive.

Though families are used to receiving their bus schedules two weeks prior to the start of the school year, HCPSS asks for your patience and understanding as we work through challenges with developing bus routes for this school year. The bus locator will be available on the HCPSS website by Tuesday, August 24.

When the full bus schedules are finalized and available online, all bus riders will have scheduled pickup and drop-off times to support families in their planning.

HCPSS staff will monitor bus ridership and driver vacancies and make adjustments to the schedule as we are able. It is our goal to limit the number of instances buses must double back for additional students and to minimize the impact on students and families. 

Anyone interested in becoming a driver is encouraged to call the HCPSS Transportation Office at 410-313-6732 as soon as possible.

HCPSS Eliminates Health Fund Deficit Two Years Ahead of Schedule

HCPSS Eliminates Health Fund Deficit Two Years Ahead of Schedule

 July 12, 2021

This press release is being sent jointly by the Howard County Public School System and County Executive’s Office

Ellicott City, Maryland — Howard County Public School System Superintendent Dr. Michael J. Martirano, joined by Board of Education Chair Dr. Chao Wu, County Executive Calvin Ball, County Council Chair Liz Walsh, and system and county leaders, today announced the school system’s health fund deficit will be eliminated this year (fiscal year 2022) – two years ahead of schedule.

The deficit, which began in 2015 and was first discussed publicly in May 2017 by then newly hired Superintendent Dr. Michael J. Martirano, grew to $39.2 million before a combination of several efforts were implemented to halt the continuing deficit growth. The first step was to begin to fully fund actuarially projected health insurance costs and then begin to pay down the deficit. In 2019, a plan was jointly developed by the Superintendent and County Executive to eliminate the deficit by fiscal year 2024. Using savings within the school system’s operating budget, a one-time infusion of funds from the Howard County Government, and a lower-than-expected claims experience in fiscal years 2021 and 2022, the health deficit will be eliminated in this current fiscal year (July 1, 2021-June 30, 2022) with an estimated $5 million positive balance if claims are consistent with actuarial projections. 

“This deficit has significantly constrained our operating budget for several years and limited our ability to adequately fund several priorities,” said Superintendent Martirano. “Eliminating the deficit became an immediate top priority for me and Board of Education members. Today truly is a momentous day as we can celebrate that our commitment and collaboration has finally addressed this deficit and that the Howard County Public School System will not be hampered by this looming deficit year after year. It is our responsibility and the responsibility of all future leaders in our county to ensure that our employee health care costs are fully funded.”

“The School System’s Health Fund Deficit represented a significant fiscal challenge that our Administration and County Council had to confront upon taking office. In just 3 years, we have accomplished something truly remarkable: we have taken a near $40 million deficit and turned it into a projected surplus of over $5 million,” said Howard County Executive Calvin Ball. “Our Administration, School System and Board of Education faced a daunting challenge, met it head on, and resolved the issue working together. I am proud of the work we’ve done to eliminate the Health Fund Deficit and am thankful to have good partners like Dr. Martirano, the members of the Board of Education, and our Howard County Council to make today possible.”

“This was not a problem created by this Board or this Superintendent, but it was ours to fix,” said Board Chair Wu. “Since 2017, this Board of Education has prioritized fully funding the actuarially projected health insurance costs, preventing the deficit from growing. We will continue to prioritize the health benefits that our employees receive and engage in sound financial practices to ensure we never find ourselves in this position again.”
 
“The County Council has shared consistently with the Superintendent’s and Board of Education’s goal to eliminate this health fund deficit as quickly as we possibly could,” said Liz Walsh, County Council Chair. “So much so that we voted unanimously in support of an amendment to dedicate an additional $2.5 million to this exclusive purpose. We can now all turn our attention to fully funding the present needs and future needs of our county school system and the children in our care at this very moment and for generations to come.”

The Superintendent detailed several collaborative efforts to eliminate the health fund deficit:

  • The efforts of the Board of Education’s steadfast commitment to fully funding the actuarially projected health insurance costs to stop the deficit from growing
  • The County Executive and County Council’s collaboration by dedicating significant contributions to deficit reduction
  • The strategic budgetary measures that were put in place to generate year-end savings in the HCPSS General Fund to help pay down the deficit
  • Unanticipated health cost savings in the Health Fund producing operating gains

“Today truly is a momentous day as we celebrate that our commitment and collaboration has finally addressed this deficit and our budgetary focus will not be on getting out of a multi-million dollar debt but on how the budget can support the very important programs and services that our students and staff need. This includes implementing the Blueprint for Maryland legislation and welcoming back all of our students back to school next month to normalized instruction,” added Martirano.