2017 Area Attendance Committee Recommendation to HCPSS and BOE

This is 2017 HCPSS Area Attendance Committee’s feedback to HCPSS and BOE. There are a lot of great and useful recommendations to HCPSS and BOE and I truly appreciate their difficult and important work last summer. I believe those recommendations will help this year’s AAC. By the way, HCPSS will release a new 2019-2020 redistricting proposal in June, 2018.

It includes recommendations in several areas: administrative, planning, field work and planning. All of them are very useful except one recommendation which says: “if a parent makes a thread, bullying to AAC members, their children should be disciplined.” This is totally wrong. I am not sure how the committee signed off this recommendation.

I would like to add two more recommendations:

  1. Assign a score to each adjustment with the polygon change, i.e., we need assign each factor in Policy 6010 with a weight (one example, for those 13 factors in Policy 6010, each has an equal weight of 1/13 = 7.7%) . In this way, we will prevent one factor dominating everything else. And we can always compare the score for each polygon manipulation objectively.
  2. Estimate the bus transportation cost in real time while AAC members are doing the polygon swap. If HCPSS is not able to do it now, they should hire some people with the skills to provide the numbers during the discussion. We should always be conscientious of the cost. For example, for each polygon move, we should be able to tell how much bus transportation will be increased/decreased comparing to the current level (benchmark). This cost change will be weighted into the overall performance score for the redistricting.

2017 AAC Feedback to BOE

Quick summary of HCPSS portable classroom

An HCPSS BOE meeting document dated on March 8, 2018 outlined the portable classroom status for the year 2018-2019. We will have more than 222 portable classrooms in HCPSS.

I believe portable classroom is a safety concern, does not provide great learning environment and skews the capacity calculation. We should slowly reduce the number of portable classroom and eventually eliminate all of them. 

Quick summary of portables in 2018-2019

Elementary School ( 130 total portables)

Only 7 (of 42 in total) elementary schools  do not have portable classrooms.  Fulton will have 9 portables in one year (considering the fast house development there). Pointers Run has 9 portables, Talbott Springs has 10 portables and Waverly ES has 9 portables.

2019 hcpss portable elementary school

Middle School ( total 47 portables)

There are 7 middle schools having no portables of 20 middle schools. Clarksville MS, Dunloggin MS, Harpers Choice MS all have 5 portables. Ellicott Mills MS, Glenwood MS and Murray Hill MS all have 6 portables.

High School ( 45 total portables)

Centennial High has 8, Hammond High has 4, Howard HS has 15, Long Reach HS has  8, Mount Hermon High and Reservoir both have 5 portables.

2019 hcpss portable middle and high school

Quoted from the document:

“Principals requested an additional 26 relocatables to be placed (25 individual and one 9-unit modular) and 8 relocatables (7 individual and one 9-unit modular) to be removed. The estimated cost to buy and place, or remove, the relocatables by principals is approximately $4.4 million. The current budget request is $2.5 million. Not all of the requests can be accommodated based on budgetary limitations. So the movement of one modular building, the placement of fifteen (15) new single classroom units, and the demolition of six (6) units are recommended by staff.”

Attached is the official document for your reference.

03 08 2018 HCPSS portable classroom list

Summary of CA board work session of 2018-4-12

Resident SpeakOut:

Ruth H. , of Mom Demanding Action against Gun Violence, asked CA to sign proclamation . She talked about Long reach high school reported a bullet in the school this morning, a gun shot in the Columbia Mall.

Lewis Shipp, supporting CA selling alcoholic drinks from cart on the Fairway Hills golf course.

Kith Heilval., chair of Golf and Green Committee, supporting selling beer.

Steve Ronning,  supporting selling beer, with a discount to senior citizens.

Jen Hapashi, whetstone road resident, supporting selling beer.

Bill Harris, five time championship of Fairway Hills Golf course, vice chair of Golf and Green Committee, supporting selling beer.

Shawn Paterniti, support selling beer.

Ginger Scott, against selling beer because of boorish people or behavior.

Chet Fisher, member of Alcoholic Anonymous, talked about possible closing of Longfellow community center.  His organization keeps people sober.

Jonathan Edelson, Oakland Mill Village Chair, talked about closing of neighborhood centers.

Judy Pittmay, of Village In Howard,

Jim Smith, talked about neighborhood centers closing. He is a scout leader.

Bob Foutaine, chair of Harpers’ Choice Village Board, talked about neighborhood center closing.

Jessica Harvey, own a summer camp, great location for a summer camp.

Rebecca Palmquist, president of Wilde Lake Children’s Nursery Co-op. It charges $212 per month for 4-year old. Six co-ops are still running in Columbia.

Amy Gallargher, talked about their service to the community, against closing the community center.

Ed Coleman, Village of Long Reach board member, daycare centers providing a valuable service to the community. Proposing modernizing those centers, increasing energy efficiency, make it cheaper to rent.

Joel Hurwitz, Harper’s Choice village sign issue,  community center closing issue, village management contract issue,

Rebecca Bealli, talked about community center closing.

Kimberly Akers, representing Oakland Mill Nursery co-op, talking about their service to the community.

Leah Kennedy, talking about community center closing. The community needs more affordable place for meeting, daycare, etc.

Jo Mapak, 26 years in the co-op. We need have a place for the family connected.  These community centers are key to this idea, because it is affordable.


China-Sister City Presentation

from Columbia China Sister City Planning Committee

“Promoting peace through mutual respect, understanding, and cooperation-one individual, one community at a time.”

Athletic Club Renovation 2018

The staff talked about the six-month transition for this Athletic Club Renovation. 74 out of 81 classes will be maintained.  You can check with group.fitness@columbiaassociation.org for assistance.

Fairway Hills Golf Cart, serving beer or not

There were boorish behavior or boorish people in the golf course, which caused neighbors unease.

Village/Community Center Discussion

There are 14 village/community centers in total in CA.  Many of them are operating under a financial loss. Need more information to make a decision on these centers.




Carry the torch and move forward

Part of my speech at 4/7/2018 African American Coalition and Delta Sigma Theta Soroity BOE Candidate Forum:

When I grew up, Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech “I have a dream” was one of the few English articles I was asked to recite. I really like it and he motivated and changed this county.

If it were not for Dr. King and the civil rights movement, I would not even be here, let alone running for BOE.

Civil rights movement never ends until everyone has the opportunity to succeed. Education is one of the key parts of this movement and this dream. We must provide equitable learning opportunities for each student. We must also encourage our students to overcome all difficulties and pursue their dream.


CA’s neighborhood center discussion

CA board will begin to discuss our neighborhood/community centers at 4/12/2018 night’s board work session.  Due to the financial constraints, there is a possibility some community centers will be closed in the future.

Here are some materials from CA staff for the board to review. I am extracting some information here and attaching the backup material for your reference:

  • CA owns 14 neighborhood centers which are maintained jointly with the village associations. The neighborhood centers day to day operations and rental programs are under the purview of the village associations. The neighborhood centers are primarily used as daycares and for church gatherings, and other village rentals.
  • CA construction department staff conducted an evaluation of all 14 facilities to assess major building components, remaining useful life of building systems, and assign value to necessary capital repairs. In addition, ongoing operating income and expenses were analyzed for strategic consideration regarding long term building operations relative to CA’s other operating and capital initiatives.

Dorsey’s Search : 1
Harper’s Choice : 2
King’s Contrivance : 1
Long Reach : 3
Oakland Mills : 3
River Hill : 1
Wilde Lake : 3
Three villages, Hickory Ridge, Owen Brown, and Town Center have no neighborhood centers

Staff recommendation:

CA will evaluate an offset to the village association for operating losses from closing neighborhood centers with additional CA grant allocations. Passive parks will replace the building footprint where buildings are removed

  1. FY20: Demolish Locust Park Neighborhood Center replace with passive park.
  2. Pending: (CA will coordinate with Village Associations)
    •Repurpose Running Brook and Faulkner Ridge for ADA pool bathhouse improvements when current tenant vacates.
    •Replace Stevens Forest and Jeffers Hill Neighborhood Centers with passive park when current tenants vacate.
    •Take out of Service Talbott Springs, Longfellow and MacGills Common, when current tenants vacate
  3. On-going: Maintain Bryant Woods, Dorsey Hall, River Hill, Thunder Hill, Swansfield and Phelps Luck Neighborhood Centers

Item_06(d)_(1)_Memo_Neighborhood Center Strategic Plan

Item_06(d)_(2)_Financial Information

Item_06(d)_(3)_Power Point-Neighborhood Centers Evaluation


You can also get all information at https://www.columbiaassociation.org/about-us/board-of-directors/, https://d2814gcejiq38s.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/packet-agendas-74853-2.pdf

What I did when I was child

These online photos captured what I did when I was a child. In the third graph, I was really scared about the leech. It was drinking your blood and very difficult to remove. I usually jumped out the water, ran to the dry place, used sand to scratch it off from my leg.

The last pictured looked like me a little bit. Missing those times with friends and my families in China at this late night.

CA Board Identifies Possible Focus Areas For FY19 (The Villager 2018-04)

Columbia Association Board Identifies Possible Focus Areas for FY19

This article was published at The Villager of River Hill Village Association, April 2018 Issue.

The Columbia Association’s Board of Directors has been considering what to focus on in the upcoming fiscal year. The Board brainstormed at their March work session and identified topics they believe are most importance to the Columbia Association and Columbia Residents. The topics are varied:

  1. The annual charge rate and revenue,
  2. Declining shares of membership numbers,
  3. Membership types and price, service quality,
  4. Commercial property covenant enforcement,
  5. CA’s role in the downtown development and lakefront design,
  6. Ever increasing maintenance cost on bridges, ponds and open maintenance,
  7. CA’s relationship with each individual village,
  8. CA’s role in the county land development regulations,
  9. How CA is responding to changes and competition from other vendors,
  10. Assessment of what services and programs should be offered by CA versus other entities, and
  11. How CA can better serve younger adults, particularly in their late teens to age 35.

The Board will pick two to three topics within the next month and ask CA staff to focus on them over the next 12 months.

Based on the list above, what issues are most important you? Are there CA-related issues that you believe the Board should consider that are not listed? I look forward to hearing your feedback.

Chao Wu, Ph.D.

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

Email: superbwu@gmail.com  Website: http://www.chaowu.org

Disclaimer: This letter only represents Dr. Chao Wu’s personal opinion. It does not represent River Hill Board of Directors nor Columbia Association’s Board.


2018 First Generation Candidates in Howard County

There are many first generation American citizens running for public office this year in Howard County. I asked Baltimore Sun (Columbia Flier) to have some coverage on this topic and have not heard back yet. I believe this is an interesting topic. Every candidate can share his/her unique story.

For the 2018 BOE election, there are four first time and first generation candidates: myself, Saif Rehman, Anita Pandey and Sabina Taj. For the county council, there are three candidates: Raj Kathuria( District 1), John Liao ( District 2), Hiruy Hadgu(District 3).

I had an interview with ACM media in Rockville, Maryland in March, 2018. I talked about why I want to run and what I want to bring to the Howard County BOE. It was conducted in Chinese. Both John and I were interviewed together.

I am running for BOE because I want to bring change and a new perspective to the school board. School budget, school safety and student performance are my top priorities. I want to bring an engineer and analyst background to the board, seek common ground and look for practical and optimal solutions to solve many problems HCPSS is facing now.

If you can understand Chinese a little bit, please watch it.

Support of Long Reach Village Redevelopment

I support the Long Reach Village Center Redevelopment project which will help the Long Reach Village center. Whenever I drive into or pass by that village center, I feel that village needs a redevelopment. Last week, we had a candidate forum there, my feeling got stronger.

The county zoning board made a decision to delay this project for a year until this year’s election. One year delay will dramatically change the project perspective, for example, the developer may pull out and everything will start over. The current plan has been supported by almost all parties involved and there is no reason for delaying it at all.
Each successful village is a part of Columbia spirit. I wish Long Reach Village Center will join this.
If you feel the same, please consider writing to council members Ms. Jen Terrasa and Dr. Calvin Ball.  The email is listed below and cc your email to other council members. I know other council members are supporting this project and they want to have a vote on this redevelopment project.



A letter from Oakland Mills Community Association( they asked me to share it publicly).

The Honorable Jen Terrasa
Chairperson, Howard County Zoning Board
3430 Court House Drive
Ellicott City, MD 21043

The Honorable Calvin Ball
Vice Chairperson, Howard County Zoning Board
3430 Court House Drive
Ellicott City, MD 21043

Dear Zoning Board Chairperson Terrasa and Vice Chairperson Ball:

The Oakland Mills Community Association (OMCA), requests that you immediately reconsider your refusal to schedule a Zoning Board hearing in April 2018 regarding the redevelopment of the Long Reach Village Center. A Zoning Board delay will bring the project to a screeching halt for almost a year, time which the older Columbia villages, like ours, simply cannot afford to lose.

The thousands of residents who live in the older villages are deeply concerned about our village centers, whose retail merchants are severely challenged by drastic changes in the retail scene and in the economic circumstances of the properties surrounding them. We have been closely following the plans to redevelop Long Reach in the hope that it will point a way forward for other villages with similar challenges.

The County must move this project forward for several important reasons. The costs to the County in delaying the sale of the center would be substantial and have a negative impact on the County’s FY19 budget and on the County’s annual tax base. Equally as important as the financial implication of a delay is the forward momentum that the residents of Long Reach deserve and are in desperate need of. Village centers were and should remain the heart and soul of each village. The redevelopment of Long Reach is a critical step in finding the way forward for Long Reach and all older villages. OMCA wants to ensure that developers see revitalization of older village centers as opportunities to invest in Howard County’s established communities, and we request quick reconsideration to hold the Long Reach Village Center hearing with the Zoning Board in April.


Jonathan Edelson
Chairman, Oakland Mills Community Association

Summary of CA board meeting on 2018-3-22

 Resident SpeakOut:

  1. Chris Alleva, talked about Howard Hughs should be more cooperative with CA, since CA is very cooperative with them.  He talked about Howard Hughs was against competition. He talked about the county zoning and CA’s possible commercial covenant enforcement.
  2. Susan Campbell, brought a zoning violation case ( Bruce R. Altschuler and Rught P. Altschuler versus Howard County Planning Board).  There was a dispute of a 33-feet amateur communication tower. The Kings Contrivance Village RAC approved it and the zoning board disallowed it.
  3. Paul Verchinski,  kudos to CA’s snow cleaning effort across the bridge at American City Building, asked CA board to take a position on Long Reach Village Redevelopment effort. Right now the zoning board tabled the approval of it. It will slow down the redevelopment for at least a year.  Some senior dropped out of CA facility because of fees, facilities, and competitions.  EV  charge station was discussed.
  4. Eric Avant, Harper’s Choice, liked the new tennis facility at Long Reach Village. He liked the podcast and video conference of CA board meetings. He asked CA not to install the village sign for Harper’s Choice.

President Report

Columbia was named the ―12th Happiest City in America‖ by WalletHub, a Washington, DC-based personal finance website launched in August 2013. WalletHub examined 180 of the largest U. S. cities and based its findings on 28 key indicators of happiness, ranging from depression rate to income-growth rate to leisure time spent per day.

The board and staff talked about the problem with CA class registration. CA is working with vendor to solve the problem.

Dan talked about the incoming closure of Athletic Club for six months for renovation. The Columbia Gym will not be closed for maintenance starting from this year. CA staff figured out how to do continuous maintenance without closing the facility.


  1. The Columbia Association (“CA”) Board of Directors (the “Board”) has considered the feasibility of CA’s undertaking of responsibility for commercial covenant enforcement authority (the “Authority”) in Columbia.
  2. The board discussed strategic issues for the next 12 months and will focus on the following four directions:
    1. CA’s role in the continued re/development of Columbia
    2. Examine declining resident memberships and how to address this
    3. Participation in redrafting the land development regulations
    4. Increasing millennial participation
  3. Overview of Final Report on the Development Regulations Assessment.

School Safety is my top priority

Safety for our students has always been one of my top priorities. The arrest of the HCPSS substitute teacher Steven Katz in Montgomery County and the shooting at Great Mills High School of Maryland have clearly shown that these nationwide issues could very well end up happening in our own schools. These tragedies have shocked and saddened me. My condolences go out to those families who have been negatively impacted. As adults, we have the obligation to protect our kids. We must stop just talking about the issue and start taking action NOW. Our kids shouldn’t feel scared when going to school. I am determined to make school safety a top priority as it should have been all along if I am elected as a  BOE member.

I will re-examine and strengthen information sharing among government and law enforcement agencies to make sure that our school system has up-to-date information available regarding school safety. The arrest of Steven Katz was known to the public before the news reached to the HCPSS offices.

I will ensure allocation of adequate resources for mental health to help both students and school staff better handle pressure, access counselors whenever needed, and, again, streamline information sharing between parents, schools, and other partners. We also need to put more efforts to curb cyber bullying which is now a prevailing problem for teenagers.

I will not allow guns on campus, except for those owned by school resource officer (SRO) which should reside in each and every high schools.

I will continue to work on the overcrowding issue at school, to reduce portable classrooms gradually (at least focusing on the portable classroom safety now) and install alarm system for the school facilities.

We should also continue to monitor and improve school bus safety.

It is shocking to see so many school shootings this year. I strongly condemn these events including the latest one at Great Mills High School. We must work together to prevent such events in the future. I welcome your participation and suggestions as this will be one of my top priorities as a BOE member. Strong school safety is what everyone needs. 


HCPSS Equitable and Effective Discipline Forum

I joined many community members in this forum and listened to Dr. Gina Massella’s presentation this morning at Long Reach High School at 8:30.

In my table, we had a NAACP of HoCo member, a LRHS student council student, Barb Krupiarz from HCPSS Special Education Advisory Committee and an HCPSS teacher(facilitator). I learned a lot and we should improve the situation asap.

We have a lot to do. In one way, we should not be afraid of discipling students because we want to have our numbers look good. But most important, we should address the discipline problem with students, staff and parents to help our students grow and succeed. Out-of-school discipline is especially not good to the students and should be minimized. The process probably will not finish in a day, but I am confident we can achieve that. And we should have the urgency to fix it too.

Attached are some figures.

Robot will take our jobs?

Robot will take our jobs. How can HCPSS help our students to avoid this?

  • Andrew Ng’s biggest concern about AI is its effect on Jobs (Not evil AI)
  • Industrial Robot sales in the US are now growing at 32% YoY US (2017)
  • Expected to accelerate as robots become more intelligent, less expensive more capable
  • Low Wage Jobs are most susceptible https://willrobotstakemyjob.com/
  • Based on Oxford 2013 Report on the susceptibility of jobs to computerization in the US
  • Machine learning will put a substantial share of employment across a wide range of occupations at risk
  • By the authors’ estimates about 47% of total US employment is at risk
  • Job automation bottlenecks: Perception and Manipulation, Creative Intelligence, Social Intelligence

Feedback from my February candidate community meetings

Thanks to Alan Klein and Janet Evans’s support. I had two “meet your candidate” meetings at Village of Harper’s Choice and Village of Long Reach in this February. I really like this kind of small scale community meetings such that we can have great dedicated convetsation.

Here are the questions I heard from our communities.

  1. School ranking: why are some schools are better than others?
  2. How do you view standardized test?
  3. What can the board do to help disadvantaged children?
  4. Why you are running?
  5. What do you think about Dr. Foose?
  6. Did you get teacher association’s endorsement?
  7. Issues: school start time, school redistricting, vocational schools