Promoting Student Diversity in Schools

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.

Promoting Student Diversity in Schools by Mark Blom

There is a survey data on this topic and very interesting.

pew survey on school versus diversity

Here is another post related to Mr. Blom’s article.

https://chaowu.org/2019/04/05/a-roadmap-from-desegration-to-diversity-in-americas-public-schools/

 

Tough choices

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. We are now waiting for the county council to give us extra 10 million dollars if they can.
  5. 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:

https://go.boarddocs.com/mabe/hcpssmd/Board.nsf/files/BBYRJY6E4AC8/$file/05%2008%202019%20Budget%20Work%20Session%20Documentss.pdf

 

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.

  1. Model 2 costed extra 9.3 million dollars,
  2. Model 3 costed extra 12.6 million dollars,
  3. Model 4 costed extra 4 million dollars. 
  4. 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 ):

  1. Model 1 costed extra 1.7 million dollars. 
  2. Model 2 costed extra 0.9 million dollars. 
  3. Model 3 costed extra 5.3 million dollars. 
  4. Model 4 costed extra 3 million dollars. 

In the 2017-12-19 report, four models were discussed (All start after 8:00)

  1. Model 1 costed extra 6.3 million dollars. 
  2. Model 2 costed extra 7.62 million dollars. 
  3. Model 3 costed extra 9.3 million dollars. 
  4. Model 4 costed extra 8.36 million dollars. 

———————————————————————

Here is the list of usual historical documents for your info.

—————-begin———————–

February 20, 2014

June 11, 2015

October 22, 2015

April 28, 2016

November 17, 2016

January 12, 2017

February 7, 2017 Public Hearing

February 23, 2017 – Internal Audit – Costs of Later Start & Dismissal Times

February 23, 2017

December 19, 2017

—————-end———————–

 

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.

Budget

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

  1. The board approved the schematic design on High School 13 on Mission Road, which is set to open in2023.
  2. The board also approved the renovation plan for Hammond High School, which is set to finish in2022.
  3. 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.
  4. The board is also interested in the “starting high school later” initiative.
  5. 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

chaowu2016@gmail.com

HCPSS High School Grading Policy

  • The markup copy includes original language from the current policy. The charter for the committee was presented to the Board on May 4, 2017; an update report was conveyed to the Board on May 3, 2018; the committee’s recommendation was submitted to the Superintendent’s Cabinet on February 11, 2019; and a public hearing will be held on April 11, 2019.

Here is the policy for you to review. Public hearing is on April 11, 2019. The board welcomes your feedback at boe@hcpss.org.

One Page Proposed HCPSS 2020 Budget



This is a summary for people to understand the current budget quickly.








I am a little disappointed that redistricting tool and transportation routing are in the optional category. I am glad they are  included in the budget with my push, but they are still not receiving enough support. Starting high school late, bus route optimization and student safety, school redistricting require us to have the necessary tool and software to get it right. Without the right data to  support, it is hard to make the right decision.

Here is an article “Why UPS drivers do not make a left turn” https://www.businessinsider.com/ups-efficiency-secret-our-trucks-never-turn-left-2011-3.

At the same time, please read my original post from the 2020 County Spending Affordability Advisory Committee report: https://chaowu.org/2019/03/05/2020-county-spending-affordability-advisory-committee-report/.The county projected revenue growth is around 10 million dollars.





We are in short of money to provide the same level of service for our school system. We need innovate to educate.







2020 County Spending Affordability Advisory Committee Report

Here is the link: https://www.howardcountymd.gov/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=BE0JFBVqnOY%3d&portalid=0

Some highlights:

Issue 1. Operating budget revenue level and growth lags far behind requested expenditure growth

Issue 2. Capital budget continues to see requests 2-3 times affordable level; debt capacity depleted

Recommendations

  1. Projections of Revenue for Fiscal Year 2020

The Committee recommends development of the FY 2020 budget based on projected revenue of $1.15 billion, an increase of 2.7% ($30 million) over FY 2019 budget (excluding use of fund balance).

2: A Recommended Level of New County Debt Authorization

The Committee recommends limiting authorized new General Obligation bonds in FY 2020 to $70 million.

The report is really helpful for those who are interested in understanding the county financial situation from this report.

Talking about APFO part, the report only focuses on the revenue part, not on the cost side.

Discussion on HoCo school segregation

I am deleting the original post since It caused some controversy and misunderstanding regarding my position on this topic. My original intent for the post is to provide a discussion opportunity whether our school redistricting policy purposely segregate students. However, people brought my attention that some contents in the original post may be not appropriate.

I totally agree with Jim Rouse’ vision where people from all walks of life can live together harmoniously. Columbia has been a model for such an integrated community from the beginning. I believe strongly in diversity and inclusion which I myself benefited from. There is no way I support segregation. I apologize for this misunderstanding.

However, I do want to see a discussion on whether our school system indeed used school redistricting policy to segregate students. If that is truly the case, as a new board member, I will take every step to correct that and I wish you join me in this effort.

HCPSS Special Education First Step

Source: https://www.hcpss.org/special-education/program-details/

There are three intervention stages for children: under 3 years old, between 3 and 5, beyond 5 years old. Please contact the hotlines below for the resources to help your child.

中文

根据孩子的年纪不同,有三个干预阶段:三岁以下,三岁到五岁,五岁以上。这些评估和帮助都是免费的。希望大家积极利用上面的资源,帮助你自己的孩子。

한국어

3 세 이하, 3 세 ~ 5 세, 5 세 이상 자녀의 나이에 따라 세 가지 중재 단계가 있습니다. 이러한 평가와 도움은 무료입니다. 모든 사람들이 위의 자료를 적극적으로 활용하여 자신의 자녀를 도울 수 있기를 바랍니다.

Identification

Children may be referred through the Child Find Program. “Child Find” is the term used for the process of locating, identifying, and evaluating children and youth who may be in need of special education services and programs. A referral may be made by anyone who suspects that a child may have special needs, a delay in development, or a disability. Screening and assessment must be completed prior to identifying a student as eligible for special education.

How do I Refer a Child?

For children who are below the age of three, call the Howard County Infants and Toddlers Program at 410-313-7017 or write to:

Howard County Infants and Toddlers Program
8930 Stanford Blvd.
Columbia, MD 21045

Parents may also email anne_hickey@hcpss.org or jennifer_harwood@hcpss.org

For children who are 3 through 5 years old, call the Child Find Team at 410-313-7046 or write to:

Child Find Team
County Diagnostic Center
5451 Beaverkill Road
Columbia, MD 21044.

For school age children who are enrolled in the Howard County Public Schools, speak with the child’s teacher or the principal.

For school age children who are enrolled in private or religiously affiliated schools, call the County Diagnostic Center at 410-313-7046 or write to:

County Diagnostic Center
5451 Beaverkill Road
Columbia, MD 21044

Eligibility

Children with disabilities from birth to age 21 may be eligible for special education. School-age children who are eligible usually receive special education services in the public school. Preschool children may receive services at school, at home, or both. Students with disabilities who attend private or religiously affiliated schools also may be eligible for special education services.

Federal law, IDEA 2004 (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) defines “children with disabilities” as having any of the following types of disabilities:

  1. Autism
  2. Deaf-blindness
  3. Deafness
  4. Developmental delay (State option)
  5. Emotional disturbance
  6. Hearing impairment
  7. Intellectual Disability
  8. Multiple disabilities
  9. Orthopedic impairment
  10. Other health impairment
  11. Specific learning disability
  12. Speech or language impairment
  13. Traumatic brain injury
  14. Visual impairment (including blindness).

HCPSS FY2020 operating budget factors

Tonight, the board voted to send our school budget to HoCo County government with 9.2% increase of MOE (Maintenance of Effort). Here are the two key documents for you to read and analyze. Please share your feedback. Note that if the board does not ask for it, the county will not give money to the school.

The board will continue to work on the budget. We want to make sure the school uses the money with great care and puts our student, teacher and staff in the center of the discussion. I also want to put the budget in a perspective for the future. We need allocate money for those initiative.

2016 Consultant Study on HCPSS enrollment, capacity and redistricting

The following areas are discussed in the report.

1.Enrollment projection methodology
2. Evaluation of school capacity
3. Redistricting scenario testing
4. Adjustment to feeder system
5. Evaluate income disparity among schools

The document is attached here for your reference.

2016 consultant study on redistrictingDownload

Please share your feedback here or with chaowu2016@gmail.com or boe@hcpss.org.

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 boe@hcpss.org.