My Interview with Columbia Flier

This was published on Nov. 16, 2017. I was email interviewed by the reporter Mr. Andrew Michaels. He asked me the top ONE priority as a new school board member and I honestly just presented one point.

Here are what I believe important to the students, parents and the community:

  1. Motivate all students to learn and achieve their dream
  2. Expand learning opportunities for all students
  3. Have accountability and transparency in HCPSS. Just check the other news that 23M deficit from school health fund.

The online version is here:

As many can see under the candidate introduction, there is the news about $23M deficit from school health fund.  I talked about this problem long time ago and it is the exact example why we need transparency and accountability in HCPSS.

Final 2018 HCPSS School Redistricting

Final 2018 HCPSS School Redistricting

After this long summer and fall with the first feasibility study version, two Area Attendance Committee versions and the superintendent version, the final 2018 HCPSS School redistricting result is out tonight. After the vote, each board member and the superintendent Dr. Martirano shared their thoughts about the process and the result.

To find your polygon number (each house is assigned a number( called polygon) and the school is attached with that number) at:

The original document is here But the polygon number is not there yet and it is hard to read. I will make sure the following polygon numbers are correct. Email me if you find inconsistency.

Elementary School Changes

Sending School          Receiving School      Polygon Number

Bellows Spring            Rockburn                     83,1083

Clements Crossing     Pointers Run               127

Deep Run                     ES #42                           30,1030,2030

Ducketts Lane             ES #42                          33,35,1035,1036,2035,4035

Rockburn ES               ES #42                          32,1032

Manor Woods            Triadelphia                   1171

Manor Woods            Waverly                        304

Manor Woods            West Friendship          171, 178, 179, 1178, 1179

Middle School Changes

Sending School             Receiving School           Polygon Number

Burleigh Manor             Mount View                       171

Harpers Choice             Wilde Lake                          66, 134, 1066, 1134, 2134

Lime Kiln                       Clarksville Middle              117, 118, 120, 123, 126, 127, 296, 1117, 1120, 1123, 1296

Mayfield Woods           Elkridge Landing                83,1083

Thomas Viaduct           Mayfield Woods                  82,2082

High School Changes:

The school uses Jump Start and  Direct Open Enrollment to alleviate the overcrowding schools.

Other Policy Changes:

  1. Allow students at Howard High School, Centennial High School, and Long Reach High School to enroll in the JumpStart Program at Oakland Mills High School or River Hill High School, and to also allow trailing siblings, who will share at least one year in the high school together to enroll at the school of their older sibling in the Jump Start Program. HCPSS will provide transportation through collector sites for the duration of the JumpStart program.
  2. Move that, as capacity allows at Oakland Mills High School or River Hill High School and after students and their siblings are enrolled in the JumpStart Program that students from Centennial High School, Howard High School, and Long Reach High School may apply for directed open enrollment to Oakland Mills High School or River Hill High School. HCPSS will provide transportation through collector sites for the duration of the JumpStart program.
  3. Move to direct the Superintendent to propose revisions to Policy 9000 to support the JumpStart Program, enrollment of siblings of students enrolled in the JumpStart Program, and directed open enrollment, for review on December 7, 2017.
  4. Move that parent(s) may request that their rising eighth grade student remain at their 2017/2018 middle school with transportation provided by parent(s). The parent(s) must apply using the Student Reassignment process as outlined in Policy 9000 Implementation Procedures, Section IV. Student Reassignment Initiated by Parents. Deadlines to request reassignment are to be announced.
  5. Move that parent(s) may request for their student with an Individualized Education Plan or Section 504 plan to remain at their current school until completion of that school level with transportation provided by parents. If transportation is included in the IEP or 504 plan transportation would continue to be provided by HCPSS. The parent must apply using the Student Reassignment process as outlined in Policy 9000 Implementation Procedures, Section IV. Student Reassignment Initiated by Parents. Deadlines to request reassignment are to be announced.
  6. Move that parent(s) who, as defined by Policy 9000, is/are currently active duty military personnel, may request for their student(s) to remain at their current school until completion of the school level, with transportation provided by parents. The parent(s) must apply using the Student Reassignment process as outlined in Policy 9000 Implementation Procedures, Section IV. Student Reassignment Initiated by Parents. Deadlines to request reassignment are to be announced.
  7. The board will continue discussion on the school redistricting if further changes are needed.

Survey on HCPSS superintendent search

The choices are:

1.     INTEGRITY:  Honest and ethical, with strong moral principles, self-confidence and personal performance. Inspires trust and optimism.

2.     PEOPLE SKILLS: Builds relationships and interacts with others respectfully.  Develops productive working relationships to minimize conflict and maximize rapport. Presents a positive image of the school system.

3.     CULTURAL PROFICIENCY:  Responds to the challenges presented by a culturally diverse community.  Demonstrates cultural competence on issues of equitable educational outcomes and diversity.

4.     COMMUNICATION & LISTENING SKILLS: Strong oral and written communicator, willing to listen to stakeholder input. Possesses the ability to work with the media.

5.     INNOVATION & CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT: Knowledgeable regarding emerging research and best practices in education.  Change agent who leads large organizations in innovation and focusses on continuous improvement efforts to enhance student achievement.

6.     STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT:  Able to enhance student performance, as well as identify and close or narrow the gaps in student achievement. Establishes a culture of high expectations for all students and personnel.  Focusses on student needs, and provides for the urgent needs of underachieving students.

7.     WHOLE CHILD & STUDENT FIRST PHILOSOPHY: Committed to a “student first” philosophy.  Creates a learning climate for student achievement and promotes positive student behavior. Addresses the educational and social/emotional outcomes of all students.  Emphasizes preparing every student to maximize his/her potential and graduate from HCPSS ready to enter the job market or begin college.

8.     MOTIVATIONAL LEADER:  Possesses a deep understanding of the teaching and learning process, and promotes the importance of providing a safe and caring school environment. Respects and inspires teachers, administrators, and staff to be student-focused and innovative. Recruits and retains high-caliber staff and teachers throughout the school system. Ensures all staff members receive relevant professional development. Selects school and central office administrators who advance the vision of the school system.

9.     COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIP & COLLABORATION: Community-focused and fosters a collaborative, positive, and professional climate of mutual trust and respect among all stakeholders – faculty, staff, administrators, students, parents, Board of Education, and community members.  Knowledgeable about Howard County, Maryland and HCPSS.  Can build consensus and commitment among individuals and groups. Establishes meaningful, long-term partnerships with a wide range of civic, community, educational, and governmental organizations throughout Howard County and Maryland. Develops and maintains a mutually beneficial relationship between the business community and the school district.

10.  LEGISLATIVE EXPERIENCE:  Can lead an organization throughout the legislative process and works with legislators on key topics.  Works cooperatively with the Board of Education and keeps members informed.

11.  EDUCATION LEVEL & EXPERIENCE:  Has a record of success as an educational leader of a large school district or other institution of similar complexity with and has demonstrated strong leadership skills in previous positions. Possesses an earned Ed.D. or Ph.D. degree.

12.  STRATEGIC PLANNING – VISION & MISSION:  Develops and communicates a vision of quality education for HCPSS students.  Implements educational priorities consistent with the interests and needs of students, staff, board and community. Develops both short and long-range district goals.

13.  BUSINESS MANAGEMENT & FINANCIAL ACUMEN: Demonstrates sound management practices, includes stakeholders in planning and decision-making. Experienced with employee representative groups/unions. Able to delegate authority appropriately while maintaining accountability. Knowledgeable regarding sound fiscal procedures.  Manages the long-term fiscal health and stability of the system.  Ensures efficient daily operations and long-range planning for the school system.

14.  DATA DRIVEN & DECISION MAKING: Clarifies the nature of the problem before deciding on an action, recommendation or decision. Generates alternatives and efficiently selects the best option based on data rather than assumptions or anecdotal input.

15.  RISK TAKING:  Calculates appropriate measures of risk when pursuing goals.  Actions are highly strategic and enhance the overall achievement of the school system.

16.  DEMOCRATIC LEADERSHIP:  Invites stakeholders to participate in the decision-making process.  Open and collegial style allows ideas move freely with open discussion.


Leadership Perspectives on Public Education

From The Gallup 2017 Survey of K-12 School District Superintendents. Link:

Executive Summary
Gallup developed this research study of K-12 superintendents of public school districts in the U.S. to understand their opinions on important topics and policy issues facing education. Since 2013, Gallup has conducted the survey at least annually. The following are key findings from the 2017 study.

Forty-two percent of superintendents are engaged in their job, a significantly higher percentage than Gallup finds among U.S. workers nationally and on par with the 45% of workplace “leaders” (those who manage teams of managers). Engaged workers tend to be more productive, and their work leads to better outcomes for their organizations.
Superintendents in city, suburban and larger districts tend to show higher levels of work engagement.

Superintendents are most likely to believe their greatest challenges are improving the academic performance of underprepared students, the effects of poverty on student learning and budget shortfalls. Compared with 2013, far fewer regard rising demands for assessment from the state and federal level and revamping curriculum as challenges. Superintendents were most likely to name rising assessment demands as a challenge in 2013, but now it is a mid-range concern for them.
Superintendents express concern about being able to find talented teachers and principals to fill their district’s positions. Two-thirds say the quantity of new teacher candidates is decreasing, while fewer than one in 10 say it is increasing.
Superintendents are also much more likely to view the quantity of new principal candidates as decreasing (43%) rather than increasing (10%). Superintendents are somewhat less pessimistic that the quality of teacher and principal candidates is getting worse, but still more say it is decreasing rather than increasing. About one in four superintendents say that former teachers in their district are leaving the teaching profession entirely.

Not surprisingly, then, superintendents tend to rate their district as less effective at recruiting talented teachers and principals than they are at selecting, developing and retaining them.

Superintendents are generally positive about their relations with the school board. The vast majority indicate they agree with their board on most decisions, and two-thirds are confident their district is well-governed at the board level. But not all superintendents have a good working relationship with their school board — about one in five say they have considered leaving their position because of their relationship with the school board.

Superintendents are less likely today than a few years ago to positively evaluate their board’s knowledge of K-12 education or the board’s diversity and inclusivity. Forty-three percent strongly agree or agree their board is very knowledgeable about K-12 education, down from 55% in 2013. And 45% today, down from 52% in 2013, believe their
district has a diverse and inclusive board.

Superintendents are much more likely to be engaged with their work if they strongly believe their district is very effective in recruiting teacher and principal talent and if they are very positive about their relations with the school board and about their board members’ knowledge of K-12 education. Among various strategies or initiatives designed to foster student success after graduation, superintendents are most likely to rate having teachers who create excitement for the future as extremely important to achieving that end. Most also see building student engagement and teaching a rigorous academic core as extremely important to students being successful later in life.

Superintendents are largely confident that their graduates are prepared to be good citizens, to lead healthy lives and to make informed decisions about postsecondary education. They are less confident that students are prepared to manage
their finances well and to understand how their talents align with the needs of the community. Superintendents are about equally likely to say their graduates will stay in the area and contribute to the local community as to say their graduates
will migrate to other communities. Relatively few superintendents believe their students are prepared to be entrepreneurs and business builders in their communities.
Like many education leaders, superintendents believe early childhood care and education can have a substantial impact on student learning outcomes once they begin school. But they perceive early childhood education programs to be lacking in their state, and a majority disagree that most children are prepared to be successful when they
start kindergarten.

Superintendents acknowledge that federal education policy affects their district, but they remain negative about the job the federal government has done in this area in the last five years. It is unlikely that those views will change under the new Donald Trump administration, since a majority of superintendents say they have no confidence at all in the Trump administration to handle K-12 education policy.

Reflecting that pessimism, 32% of superintendents strongly agree or agree they are excited about the future of K-12 education in the U.S., down from 44% in 2015. The vast majority of superintendents remain excited about the future of their own district.

superintendent facing issues

2017 Superintendent Report FINAL

Columbia Association affirms Paris Agreement on climate change, remains committed to clean energy

I am glad that CA has been a pioneer for environmental protection and clean energy adoption. I wish this act will encourage individuals in our community takes the same step to reduce our personal carbon footprint by walking more, turning down room temperature in the winter and turning up room temperature in the summer. Walk our walk, not talk our talk.

CA board also considers to set up a climate advisory committee.  We look forward to community engagement.

The following is the official press release.


From the beginning, Columbia Association (CA) has proudly shouldered the responsibility bestowed by Columbia’s founder, James W. Rouse, to “respect the land” and care for the environment.

As part of that responsibility, CA’s Board of Directors voted on Oct. 26 to affirm its support for the Paris Agreement, which seeks to combat climate change by limiting the rise of global temperatures that has occurred during the industrial era.

“Columbia Association has worked for years to reduce our energy footprint as well as enhance our environmental efforts,” said Andrew Stack, chairman of Columbia Association’s Board of Directors. “We are encouraging our community and communities around the world to do their part in supporting the Paris Agreement and global efforts to combat climate change.”

CA has been a leader in clean energy for several years. All of CA’s electricity use is offset with green power, thanks to a two-megawatt installation at Nixon Solar Farm in Western Howard County; solar panels at Amherst House and River Hill Pool; and the purchase of wind renewable energy certificates. As a result, CA has reduced its carbon footprint by more than half.

This reduction in emissions is also due to significant efforts to reduce energy consumption. CA is part of the Department of Energy’s Better Building Challenge, committing to a 20 percent reduction in energy use intensity across its building portfolio between 2012 and 2022. Columbia Association has made significant progress and is presently at an 18 percent reduction through the use of ENERGY STAR equipment, LED lighting, combined heat and power technology, and advanced operational practices.

This commitment comes despite the challenges these efforts pose. CA owns more than 50 community buildings, as well as 23 outdoor pools, many of which date back several decades. Due to their age and usage characteristics, these buildings historically have been very energy intensive. Columbia Association staff are continuing to find ways to make them more energy efficient and sustainable while serving the community.

CA also spreads the word about the importance of clean energy to its team members and in the Columbia community. In recent years, CA has launched the Columbia Solar Cooperative, which helps residents install solar panels at a reduced cost, and directed residents to the rebates and incentives offered as part of BGE’s Smart Energy Savers Program, which includes home performance energy audits, appliance rebates and other energy efficiency incentives.

“These efforts are an investment, but they are also an investment in the future,” said Milton W. Matthews, president/CEO of Columbia Association. “Our energy use is significant. During the previous fiscal year, Columbia Association’s total energy consumption — electricity, natural gas, propane, fuel oil, gasoline, and diesel — was equal to that of more than 900 average homes. Any changes we make for the better will be worthwhile. We hope the Columbia community will do the same. The more who join in, the more of a difference we can make together.”



Collusion or honest mistake on APFO

Now many people know that bills passed by the HoCo county council (CB60, CB61, CB62) on Monday night (11/6/2017) are invalid because when the county council voted, the bill already expired.

People are evaluating whether it is a collusion or an honest mistake from our County Council. Maybe you will never know. The fact that developers sitting in the meeting room knew the timeline very well and took pictures of the elapse of the time tell us that it is a collusion. Emails from our elected county council members tell us it was an honest mistake.

However, I wish the county council is able to correct their honest mistake and remember this is their legacy. Legacy is a word of something. When some former county council member talked about APFO and unregulated development in HoCo, it seemed the current over development was totally not her business at all. In fact, she took a lot of political donations from the developers and approved those developments. It was her legacy and she just did not care about it and now she is running for another office in the state.

Get it right, Howard County Council. The overcrowded schools need relief. The quality of life of people does matter. While attending meetings, talking with parents, watching BOE meeting online, I can feel the anxiety from many parents because of this school redistricting. Tightening APFO will help reduce future school overcrowding.  The bill failed unexpectedly this Monday.

I wish in the future, Mr. Frank Hecker will update his book “dividing Howard”. He will take a note on this drama and comment on legacy, controversy, achievement, collusion or corruption on our local elected officials. Otherwise, newcomers to the county do not know the recent history of the county, even the latest 10-year history.

A link about this news:

Erickson Pre-submission Meeting Update on 11-08-2017

 Here are a few highlights from the meeting:
  • Balloon Test – 12/2 (this will be the 2ndtest, once I have info on the time I’ll share it with you and also send it out via the listserv).
  • If the project is approved, they expect it will take 6 – 10 years to reach buildout. The sales center will be constructed first, then the road improvements will be made, a couple of initial buildings constructed, the rest of the buildings will be built on demand.
  • They made a few modifications to the concept plan based on input received to date:
  • Reduced surface parking for employees;
  • Added a community/public playground (off of the Linden Linthicum Lane ext);
  • Added a dog park (off of the Linden Linthicum Lane ext);
  • Relocated private garden areas to be in the same vicinity as above.
  • Multi-use shared pathway was extended across Sheppard Lane and onto SHA land at the corner.
  • The incorporation of the properties into the Planned Service Area (PSA) must occur before the Zoning Board approved the zoning change to CEF-M. This is a legislative change amending the County’s General Plan. The two processes will run in parallel. Anticipated schedule (subject to change):
  • Design Advisory Panel (DAP) Review – December 2017 (rumor mill has it as 12/6 but I have not received a formal announcement). Public can provide written comments only. Public may attend meeting; but, observe only.
  • Planning Board Review (January/February 2018) – for CEF and General Plan amendment – Public comments accepted written/in person.
  • County Council legislative session for General Plan amendment (Spring 2018) – If they approve the expansion of the PSA and the zoning change is not approved, then the zoning on the properties will revert back to the current zoning.
  • Zoning Board Hearing on CEF-M zoning Change (Spring 2018)
  • Deb Jung, who is running for County Council, questioned whether Erickson would pay property taxes. Evidently some of their facilities are non-profit, and Erickson just manages them e.g., Charlestown. It isn’t clear right now how they plan to operate Limestone Valley.
  • A question was asked about whether any of the units will be “affordable” housing. CEF zoning requires that 10% be moderate income units; however, they could pay a fee in lieu so they could be built elsewhere. So, this is still TBD.
  • Concerns were raised regarding traffic and adequacy and noise impact of emergency services. The discussed the employee schedules being off-peak and the limited number of resident drivers despite the number of units (.16 trips/day per unit). They stated their facilities average 3 trips/day for emergency services. The traffic improvement have been approved in concept by SHA and DPW. Their analysis shows that the Sheppard Lane intersection will change from service level F in a.m. and F in p.m. to B in a.m. and C in p.m. Their traffic study assumed traffic resulting from the redevelopment of the River Hill Garden Center property as well as the Enclave at River Hill development on Guilford Road/MD 108. They estimate the proposed traffic improvements will be a $4-5M investment by Erickson.
  • Richard Smith, LLUMC & Clearview HOA Pres, raised the issue that their proposal opens up opportunity for redevelopment of River Hill Garden Center.
  • Matt Brenner, River Hill resident, originally opposed the project. I spoke with him afterward and he seems to have “come around” and is no longer in opposition given the addition of the playground and dog park.


This is a summary from our River Hill manager. She summarized it from several village board members who attended the meeting.