To be a certified school bus driver, you are required to:
Possess a Commercial Drivers License (CDL) with a “P” and “S” (passenger and school bus) endorsement. The HCPSS provides the behind-the-wheel instruction to acquire this license and the necessary endorsements.
Pass a physical and drug screening examination.
Provide a driving record that shows two or less current points. The driver will be able to acquire this from the MVA.
Submit to a criminal background check that results in no disqualifying convictions or outstanding criminal charges.
Complete an 18-hour pre-service training program for certification in Howard County provided by the HCPSS Pupil Transportation Office.
Wages and number of hours worked vary from contractor to contractor.
Discussion at the Howard County Council meeting with SAAC committee
I put up the speech last night and did not do much grammar check.
Chair Walsh, thanks for inviting me to this meeting. This is Dr. Chao Wu, chair of Howard County Board of Education. I am not speaking on behalf of the board, even though probably every board member agrees with me. I appreciate the county council for giving me the opportunity.
Since the release of the Spending Affordability Advisory Committee (SAAC) report, it has been a month and half. Our county executive already released his 2022 capital budget.
I would like to talk about the SAAC report and the ongoing challenges the school system is facing. I am also proposing two possible solutions.
First, let’s talk about 2022 school system capital projects. There is an urgent funding need for school maintenance and three new construction projects (Talbott Springs ES, Hammond High and HS 13). Under the county executive 2022 capital budget, the gap is as high as 30 million dollars for the school system.
The Board and HCPSS staff have continuously noted during public discussions with the County Council and State Delegation regarding the costs of these three construction projects. These projects moved forward with construction in 2021 because of the joint commitment to maintain this funding.
However, with the current capital funding level from the county’s 2022 capital budget, we have to defer many maintenance projects again. Some projects have been deferred for more than 10 years, even 20 years. That is one reason why the school system is having a 800 million dollars maintenance list since we keep deferring them. Here are some examples:
ARL Heating ventilation and Air Conditioning renovation, last replaced 1968. Older than many people here. The cost is 25 million dollars.
Centennial High School Renovation, Addition and HVAC replacement, last replaced 1997. Cost 90 million dollars.
Dunloggin Middle School, Renovation, Addition and HVAC replacement, last replaced in 1994, cost 41 million dollars.
Elkridge Landing Middle School, HVAC replacement, last replaced 1995. Cost 10 million dollars
Forest Ridge Elementary School, Heating ventilation and air conditioning system replacement, last replaced 1992, cost 42 million dollars
Fulton Elementary School, HVAC and Roof replacement, last replaced 1997, cost 18 million dollars
Hammond Middle School, Renovation and HVAC replacement, 41 million dollars
Harpers Choice Middle school, renovation and HVAC replacement, 17 million dollars,
Jefferson Hills ES, Boiler replacement, last replaced 1974, cost 0.5 million dollars; HVAC replacement, last replaced 1998, cost 51 million dollars
Long Reach High School, HVAC replacement, 38 million dollars
Manor Woods Elementary School, HVAC replacement, last replaced 1994, cost 10 million dollars
Mayfield Woods MS renovation, 41 million dollars
Oakland Mills High School, renovation, last renovated 1973, cost 110 million
Oakland Mills Middle School renovation, 51 million dollars
Old Cedar Lane, replacement of heating, ventilation, air conditioning, last replaced 1982, cost 10 million dollars
Patapsco Middle School, Renovation and HVAC replacement, last replaced 1996, cost 51 million dollars
Pointers Run Elementary School, renovation, 20 million dollars
St Johns Lane Elementary School, HVAC replacement, , 16 million dollars
Wilde Lake High School, HVAC and boilers replacement. Cost 5.5 million dollars.
New school construction is needed for our country’s rapid development and continuous student enrollment increase.
Maintenance funding is needed to provide a safe and pleasant working and learning environment.
Missing either new school funding or the maintenance funding will lead us to a more dire situation since we don’t see any relief coming soon: future county revenue projection is slowing down and the student enrollment keeps increasing due to fast housing development across the whole county.
Second, let’s talk about the operating budget. We are looking forward that a hold-harmless number (maintaining FY21 funding level) should be maintained. We did see the enrollment dip because of the pandemic. However, we should expect the student will come back in the fall when we expect HCPSS will have full five-day in-classroom instruction. We should have this confidence that HCPSS will continue to provide quality education to attract parents and students to come to our school.
Third, over the last three budget cycles, HCPSS has realigned and reduced spending considerably by eliminating positions, increasing class sizes and cutting programs to balance our budget. We can only do so much with limited funding.
Finally, I strongly believe and propose a solution: our county’s capital project funding ,operating budget funding and our county’s planning and zoning (by the way, I mean HoCo by Design or the general plan) should always put HCPSS in the center of every decision.
Proposal for MOE formula for deferred maintenance
I also propose that we create an MOE (maintenance of effort) for deferred maintenance too, which will hold our county executive and county council accountable for our school system’s maintenance funding. Once a current aging HVAC system fails catastrophically and no replacement parts will be available due to the old aging system, we have no wiggle room to defer them any longer. The longer we kick the can further away, the higher cost it needs in the future. Keeping deferring them is to cheat ourselves and jeopardize our short term and long term financial health. Past decisions not funding them sufficiently and aggregating to such a large number should be a waking call for us all.
More than 90% of our county’s tax comes from personal income tax and property tax. We should value our parents’ trust in our education system. So all stakeholders, including the county executive, county council and the school board should work hard, both on the funding side and planning side to maintain HCPSS’s reputation.
While we are gradually returning to normal, I urge our parents, students and staff to contact schools if you have any questions. The school will strive to find solutions to challenges faced by families, which may have been overlooked.
Please note that for the school board itself and individual board members, we could not comment publicly on personnel matters, teacher contract, etc. The school will try our best to accommodate the individual needs for every student and staff, but we have to function as a healthy, financially feasible organization for the sake of the whole community.
I want to talk about the recent Atlanta massacre which killed eight Americans, six of them are Asian Americans. The board and the superintendent sent out a statement to parents and we want to make sure our Asian American community feels safe and protected. There is an ongoing crisis where violence, physical attack and hate towards Asian American in this country. It has been in existence for a long time. The Atlanta shooting has brought this crisis upfront. Yesterday, several board members, myself and Dr. Martirano attended a rally at Downtown Columbia to support AAPI community. It’s heartwarming to see the support from the community.
At the same time, I feel very sad when the Atlanta Police Spokesman Jay Baker said the killer just had a bad day. That remark literally says that eight lives are nothing. I truly wish the government, the media and the general public can look directly at the struggles and challenges Asian Americans are facing. One key problem is that Asian Americans are not treated as Americans.
We need to support each other to move our society forward. Only when we support each other fighting against discrimination and racism, respect each other, value everyone’s effort of pursuing their dreams, are we a full American country.
We may have different approaches to address these problems. However, we should be able to stand up for those who are suffering discrimination and racism, lift their voice, listen to their concerns and support them. We should take care of our community, elders, weak, ill, handicaped, children, women and everyone in need.
Asian Americans will not go away. Our struggles are the struggles of Americans. We should always stay united and find solutions to address this issue.
Ellicott City, Maryland — Howard County Public School System is currently seeking candidates among Howard County teachers, community members, and HCPSS students in grades 8-11 to serve on the Secondary Language Arts Criteria and Instructional Materials Review Committee.
Committee members review the selection criteria for instructional materials and recommend revisions, as needed; review any materials requested for reevaluation; and advise, support, and advocate for the continuous improvement of the HCPSS Secondary Language Arts program.
Membership is for two academic years, continuing through June 2023. All meetings will be held virtually for the remainder of the current school year, and copies of texts for review will be provided.
HCPSS Response to Recent Violence and Incidents of Anti-Asian Hatred
March 18th, 2021
The following statement was issued by the Howard County Board of Education and HCPSS Superintendent Michael Martirano on March 18, 2021:
We are deeply saddened by the tragic shooting in Atlanta on Tuesday, March 16. Eight people were killed, including six Asian Americans. This tragedy is particularly painful to members of our Asian community in Howard County, and many Asian students are understandably fearful. One month ago on the Lunar New Year holiday, six local restaurants, including four owned by Asians, were burglarized and vandalized. Two weeks ago, a hateful and racist speech against Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans and immigrants was delivered during the Howard County Racial Equity Task Force Public Hearing held on March 4th.
Unfortunately, these are not isolated incidents. We are witnessing in horror the recent increase in incidents of violence, attacks, hatred and discrimination against Asian Americans. Recent reports indicate there have been thousands of incidents targeting Asian Americans across the nation. The Howard County Board of Education and Superintendent Dr. Michael J. Martirano unequivocally condemn all anti-Asian violence, crimes and incidents.
HCPSS is committed to providing a safe, welcoming and inclusive environment for everyone in our community. We are enormously proud of our diverse and inspiring Asian American students and families. We are also very appreciative of the Asian American community’s contributions to HCPSS and Howard County. We reaffirm that Asian students are an integral part of diversity, equity, and inclusion in Howard County and our nation. HCPSS staff are committed to offering full support at this time of great stress for our Asian American students and families.
First and foremost, it is critical that we tend to the well-being of our students who require support. HCPSS will not tolerate bullying in any form; we ask that any child who feels victimized to reach out to a trusted adult. Students, staff and family members can easily and confidentially report incidents of bullying on the HCPSS Stop Bullying website. Counselors and staff in all of our schools are prepared to support any students who need someone to talk to. Additional resources are provided below that may be helpful for parents and educators as you discuss these recent events with your children.
We encourage everyone to stand in solidarity with our Asian American community. We urge the leaders of our country, as well as our county, to work harder to stop the hatred and take concrete actions to protect vulnerable minorities, including Asian Americans. As Martin Luther King said: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” An inclusive, just, and compassionate Howard County starts with treating all citizens and community members with kindness, respect and trust.
Resources The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) provides the following information for parents and educators to talk with children about violence:
HCPSS Class of 2020 Graduation Rate Continues to Rise
The percentage of HCPSS students who receive high school diplomas continues to rise and to outpace statewide results, according to data recently released by the Maryland State Department of Education.
At 93.4%, the graduation rate for the HCPSS Class of 2020 exceeded the Maryland average of 86.8%, and is up from 92.8% for 2019 and from 92.0% in 2018. Howard County’s rate remains the highest among the six Maryland school systems having enrollment of more than 50,000 students. The statistics reflect data for the cohort of students graduating within four years after entering high school.
HCPSS dropout patterns echo the graduation rate trends. At 3.6%, the dropout rate for the Class of 2020 shows a significant improvement compared to 4.5% in 2019 and 4.8% in 2018. The HCPSS dropout rate is well below the state average of 8.3% and compares favorably to other large Maryland school systems.
While graduation rate gaps persist among student demographic groups, several groups showed notable improvement compared to the prior year. At 91.2%, the graduation rate for Black/African American students increased by over 2 full percentage points from 88.7% in 2019. The graduation rate for Hispanic/Latinx students also showed improvement at 80.4% in 2020, up from 79.3% in 2019. Among students receiving special services, the Limited English Proficiency (LEP) group showed the greatest improvement, increasing by over 10 percentage points to 57.9%, from 47.2% last year. The rates for students eligible for free and reduced-priced meals, which is an indicator of poverty, improved by over 5 percentage points to 84.3% for 2020, compared to 79.1% last year. Graduation rates for students receiving special education services rose to 73.8%, up from 70.5% in 2019. The group designations are assigned by MSDE to track year-over-year performance.
“Our focus on equity to give all students the supports they need to be successful is driven by the goal to ensure all students are college and career ready, and the graduation rate is a key performance indicator,” said Superintendent Michael J. Martirano. “The improvements in graduation rates among several student groups that have been most impacted by achievement gaps are encouraging, and reinforce the importance of initiatives around attendance, access, achievement and acceptance, which are closely associated with student achievement. As we recover from the pandemic, we must amplify our support for students who have been most acutely impacted, and we are preparing a robust summer learning program to provide learning recovery and acceleration.”
“High school graduation is one of the most critical milestones in preparing for a satisfying, successful life, and much of our success as a school system can be evaluated by our effectiveness in graduating every one of our students,” said Board of Education Chair Chao Wu. “I am pleased that Howard County graduation rates continue to improve, which is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our outstanding staff.”
HCPSS focuses improvement efforts targeted to all of the major factors contributing to student engagement, achievement and ultimately, graduation. The school system’s Strategic Call to Action: Learning and Leading with Equity includes multiple strategies and performance measures aimed at improving achievement and learning engagement, with individualized instruction, equitable access to learning experiences, and special supports for at-risk and struggling students. The instructional program emphasizes education as a birth-through-graduation continuum and involves families and the community as essential partners in student success. System and school leaders continuously work to identify and address the root causes of equity gaps that influence achievement and graduation levels. Multiple HCPSS initiatives are targeted to overcome factors that contribute to achievement gaps, which begin in the early grades.
MSDE posts details on graduation and dropout rates for HCPSS and other systems and individual schools on its Maryland Report Card site.
HCPSS Board of Education Transition to Hybrid Meetings
March 5th, 2021
The Howard County Board of Education will transition to a hybrid board meeting format beginning with the March 11, 2021 meeting, with some Board members and staff participating in person while others continue participating remotely.
As the Board transitions to a hybrid meeting model, it is the Board’s desire to provide the public an opportunity to attend Board meetings in person, while keeping the option to participate and view virtually as the public has done since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Board will continue evaluating state guidelines and Board processes and protocols and will make adjustments as necessary to accommodate additional public participation.
During the Public Forum portion of the meeting, members of the public may continue to participate and speak virtually. However, should any speakers wish to attend and speak in person, they will be able to do so beginning with the March 11, 2021 Board meeting. Additionally, the public may register to attend the March 11 Board meeting in person. In order to adhere to safety protocols, there will be limited space for people to attend and observe, with capacity set for 16 public attendees.
Upon arrival, guests will check in at the front desk of the Department of Education building and follow signage into the Boardroom, while adhering to the guidelines and requirements for wearing masks and maintaining social distance. Those speaking at Public Forum will have assigned seats and will be directed to the podium when Public Forum begins. If there is more than one in-person speaker, the podium will be sanitized between speakers.
The deadline to sign up to participate in the March 11 Public Forums or to view the meeting in person is Tuesday, March 9. Please contact Kathy Hanks via email at Kathleen_hanks@hcpss.org to register. Speakers must select their preference to attend in person or virtually at the time of sign up.
Today the FY 2022 Howard County Spending Affordability Advisory Committee issued their report. I was a non-voting committee member, representing HCPSS and I don’t agree with some of their recommendations.
Starting from March 1st, next Monday, we will have several thousands students returning to the classroom. This is the first step and large scale of our bridge to normalized in-person education. The phase by phase return helps us to have a capacity for a socially-distanced classroom and other logistic arrangements.
It is important for the community to fully understand the unprecedented actions the Board and administration have taken to ensure the health and safety of our students and employees.
I know some of our staff have complex feelings. Some are excited to return to the classroom, and some have anxieties. Some even quit their jobs. For our teachers, staff and administrators, I truly appreciate what you have been doing for our students during this difficult time.
Approving the hybrid plan is one of the most difficult decisions for me as a board member. We need to safeguard the health of our workforce, students and community. We also have to meet our students’ needs. We have to find a middle-ground for these two and we are walking a fine line here.
There may be glitches, uncertainties and unknowns in the implementation of the hybrid plan. We are actively looking for your feedback on how to revise and improve our delivery of education. It is a complex and interwoven system and we are exploring something we had never tried at this scale before. We are patient and optimistic.
I sincerely hope all of us will work together to get through this unprecedented difficult time. The pandemic will be gone eventually, but the support and encouragement you render to our educators and our students will never go away.
The purpose of this memorandum is to provide information on the 2021 HCPSS Summer School Programs. During summer 2021, it is anticipated that the Gifted and Talented Summer Institute, Extended School Year, Early Intervention Services, and BSAP Summer Institute will operate as they have in the past. They will be taught through a combination of online and in-person instruction reflecting the hybrid approach instituted for spring 2021.
Suggested changes to the Innovative Pathways Summer School Program for high school students and Academic Intervention Summer Program for students entering grades K-8 in fall 2021 are described below. The goal for summer is to double the number of students participating in summer options.
Board of Education Approves Schedule for 2020-2021 Hybrid In-Person Model
At its work session January 26, 2021, the Howard County Board of Education approved a phased-in hybrid model for students to return to school in person. The approved model will bring students back to in-person instruction over the course of four phases beginning March 1, 2021. All students will have the option to continue receiving fully virtual instruction.
The Board’s action follows the direction provided by Maryland State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Karen Salmon on Thursday, January 21, 2021, that all public school systems shall return to in-person learning by March 1, 2021. The Maryland Educational Code provides authority to the State Superintendent to enforce the State’s educational laws and ensure that districts are adhering to the decisions made by the State. The approved dates for students who choose to return in-person are:
Week of March 1: Students identified for a program that will provide in-person instruction up to 5 days per week (including, but not limited to students receiving Special Education services, and others requiring additional learning support). Families who were previously invited to participate in school-based learning centers will receive an invitation to participate beginning March 1.
Week of March 15: Students in grades prekindergarten, Kindergarten, 1 and 2 return in a hybrid model.
Week of March 29: Students in grades 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 12, and those who participate in Career and Technical Education at ARL return in a hybrid model.
Week of April 12: Students in grades 7, 8, 10 and 11 return in a hybrid model.
Students whose parents/guardians opt for them to participate in the in-person hybrid option will attend school in-person for a maximum two days per week and participate virtually for the remainder of the week, with the exception of those identified to return on March 1. HCPSS will strive to offer students two days per week of in-person learning. However, if the number of requests exceeds capacity, due to social distancing requirements, it may be possible that HCPSS offers only one in-person day per week.
Additional information and more details on implementation will be provided to parents/guardians, staff and the community this week. Parents/guardians will receive details on choosing the instructional model for their children, as well as whether or not they will use transportation services. Staff will receive details in a separate email. Please be patient as HCPSS finalizes staff and family surveys and updates the FAQ website. The Board discussed several details related to the hybrid model, staffing, and protocols to ensure health and safety when students and staff return to buildings. Documents related to the Board’s work session may be found on the HCPSS website.
Superintendent Michael J. Martirano presented his proposed operating budget for the Howard County Public School System fiscal year 2021–2022 (FY 2022) during a presentation to the Board of Education on Thursday, January 21, 2021. The Board will now hold a series of public hearings and work sessions before submitting the Board’s Requested Budget to the County Executive by March 1, 2021. The budget proposal requests the funding needed to maintain existing levels of services and supports for students, staff, and schools. The proposal accounts for enrollment growth, sustains the school system’s recent investments in technology and software, addresses critical shortages in special education, and enhances funding to support student mental health services and dyslexia and reading instruction. The FY 2022 Proposed Budget totals $932.4 million, representing an expenditure increase of $13.8 million, or 1.5%. If advanced by the Board of Education, the request to the county of $642.4 million represents $22.1 million, or 3.6% over FY 2021. Also included are $282.7 million in anticipated funding from the state, consistent with the FY2021 allocation; and $667,100 in federal and other funding support, representing an expected decrease of $375,000 compared to FY2021. The final amount of funding allocated to the school system is subject to change, based on state actions on MOE requirements, state funding levels, and county funding availability.
Since the are state legislatures who are proposing to remove SRO from schools, the school board is observing what they are doing in the state legislature.
The superintendent made a recommendation to the school board and the board took his recommendation: totally remove SRO program or reform SRO program. SRO program is funded by the Howard County Police Department, not by the school budget. The cost is more than 2 million dollars.
The board voted to direct the superintendent to work on his two recommendations.
The purpose of this memorandum is to provide information about the staffing considerations associated with the expansion of small group programs and the gradual return to normalized operations. During the January 7, 2021 Board of Education meeting, I provided an overview of a plan designed to bring a small percentage of students and a small percentage of staff to work in buildings with an eye on achieving three goals:
Reestablishing existing specialized special education programs, Career and Technical Education programs at the ARL, in-person educational assessments, and in-home support visits for some students receiving special education services;
Expanding small group supports to every school using the School-Based Learning Center model;
Initiating a gradual return to work in buildings, schools and central office, as part of the return to normalized operations.
The goal would be to implement as early as February 1, 2021. However, as was mentioned many times during that board meeting, these efforts are entirely contingent on the health metrics approved by the Board of Education in the fall of 2020. The health metrics would have to reflect a positivity rate of <5.3% or the number of cases per 100,000 as 20 or less for 14 consecutive days in order to implement programs. For reference, Wednesday’s positivity rate was 7.6% and the case rate per 100,000 was 34.96, both significantly above the levels allowing small groups to resume. Staff will review health metrics on January 18 in order to determine the feasibility of a February 1 start date. If metrics remain unfavorable, then the start date will be pushed back one week to February 8. Each Monday, staff will review health metrics to determine a possible start date. Staff will not be required to report to buildings until health metrics permit.