Final action on elementary school redistricting, and opposition to legislation proposed by the chairman of the Harford County Delegation are just two items on a full agenda for the March 14 meeting of the Harford County Board of Education.
The final vote on elementary school redistricting was delayed past the school board’s self-imposed March 1 deadline, to allow for public input on ten amendments to the plan that were approved by the school board on February 28. School Board President Mark Wolkow said at the time that while more changes could be made at the March 14 meeting, changes were likely only in response to information not previously considered by the board. http://www.hcps.org/publicinformation/redistricting/Board_Presentation_Alternatives_with_Maps.pdf
A discussion about moving some special programs to Roye Williams Elementary School is also listed as an agenda action item. The move is being considered in light of the school’s low capacity utilization rate, which is expected to drop from 65% to 52% as a result of school redistricting.
Agenda presentations include an update on how HCPS plans to spend $2.9 million over the next four years in federal, Race to the Top funding, and a progress report on William Paca/Old Post Road and Magnolia Elementary Schools, neither of which made Adequate Yearly Progress in 2009 and 2010.
Not to be overlooked is a planned legislative update, where a bill sponsored by State Sen. Barry Glassman will run into opposition from the school board, based on the board’s previously established legislative platform.
Glassman’s bill reduces state control over public school construction and contains a provision that would reimburse local government for the state’s share of forward-funded school construction projects, replacing the state’s current practice of sending the money directly to local school boards.
Here’s how State Sen. Glassman’s office outlined his proposal in a January 19 press release:
“Glassman’s School Construction Funding Reform Act of 2011 would broadly de-regulate the role of the State’s Inter-Agency Committee on School Construction (IAC) which holds judgement on most aspects of local building plans. His proposal would basically take the total approved appropriation for school construction each fiscal year and send block grants to each jurisdiction based on a per pupil formula. In exchange, Maryland jurisdictions would be free from the multitude of IAC formulas, procedures and approvals. Counties would be free to move forward unencumbered to lease, purchase, design, build and use creative financing. “The annual school construction “beg-a-thon” would be a thing of the past,” commented the Harford Senator.
Based on last year’s level of funding, some jurisdictions do better than others. Glassman feels the increased flexibility of a block grant approach far outweighs any reductions and streamlining the design, building and financing would save counties millions on each project. He also hopes that the IAC may be downsized with some potential savings to the State budget.
A second initiative addresses the current practice which finds many counties forward funding new schools. When the State begins repayment of its share, the checks are sent to the local Board of Education, not to the jurisdiction. Glassman’s bill would direct repayment to the County, particularly if it is used to pay debt service for the original forward funding.”
Ms. Carmello of HCPS summarizes the school board’s opposition in the legislative update as follows:
“This bill would virtually eliminate State oversight and accountability of local spending on school construction projects, including project scope, design quality, MBE [Minority Business Enterprise], prevailing wage, competitive procurement and Smart Growth requirements. While less regulation is usually considered laudable, there are inherent benefits to an appropriate regulatory safety net, as well as benefits from an interagency/interdisciplinary approach embodied within the IAC’s home agencies (MSDE; DGS; Department of Planning) partnering with LEAs on planning, design, construction, and maintenance elements. The IAC has always demonstrated a fair and reasonable approach to public school construction endeavors and displayed support and flexibility when needed. Thus, dismantling this statewide structure would not be in the public’s interest.”
Also included in the legislative update is a request for board support of a bill to streamline the process for bringing truancy cases to court. The bill was introduced by Delegate Mary-Dulany James following a request from Harford County Administrative Judge William O. Carr.
The entire published agenda for March 14, 2011 appears below:
MEETING OF THE BOARD OF EDUCATION
MONDAY, MARCH 14, 2011
HCPS A. A. ROBERTY BUILDING
102 S. Hickory Avenue, Bel Air, MD 21014
Board Open Session – 6:30 p.m. Board Room
Board Closed Session – 6:35 p.m. Board Executive Conference Room
Board Business Meeting – 7:00 p.m. – Board Room
7:00 P.M. Call to Order – Mark M. Wolkow, President
Quorum Roll Call
Adoption of Agenda
Pledge of Allegiance
*7:10 P.M. General Public Comment
*7:30 P.M. Board Committee Reports and Comments
*7:45 P.M. A. Consent Agenda:
1.) Affirmation of Monthly Contract Awards (Goal 3)
2.) Decision on Award of Contract, Bel Air Elementary School Chiller Replacement, Bid Tab Sheet, List of Alternatives (Goal 3)
3.) Monthly Report on Personnel (Goal 3)
4.) Minutes of Previous Meetings: (Goal 3)
• February 14, 2011 Board Business Meeting
*7:50 P.M. B. Discussion on Roye-Williams Elementary School Programs (Goal 3)
*8:10 P.M. C. Decision on Comprehensive Elementary Redistricting Initiative (Goal 3)
*8:30 P.M. D. Update on Race to the Top, Mr. William A. Lawrence (Goal 3)
*8:50 P.M. E. Update on William Paca/Old Post Road and Magnolia Elementary,
Mr. William A. Lawrence (Goal 3)
*9:10 P.M. F. Legislative Update, Mrs. Kathryn M. Carmello (Goal 3)
*9:20 P.M. G. Superintendent’s Report
Future Meetings Review
*Times are approximate