--- In email@example.com, "Joanne Heckman" <heckman@c...>
>I've seen this again and again in science classes, starting with the
2nd grade teacher who asked me if tadpoles are reptiles.
did you tell her they were fish??
An Open Letter to the Board of Education:
Over the last several years, Howard County Public School System legal
counsel, Mark Blom, has given advice to our Board of Education members
on a variety of topics.
Mr. Blom has repeatedly given advice regarding Open Meetings Laws to
our Board of Education (BOE). Maryland's Open Meeting Compliance Board
subsequently found our BOE to be in violation on repeated occasions.
While some practices have improved, transgressions have continued and
court battles have ensued, wasting valuable county resources.
In October of 2002, legal counsel gave advice to our BOE on amending
our Superintendent's contract nearly a year and half prior to what
state law allows.
BOE member O'Donnell noted that legal counsel gave the advice "it isn't
illegal until a court rules on it". Ex-BOE member Schuchardt noted
that legal counsel put in writing that all actions taken in the closed
meeting to amend the superintendent's were legal. The Attorney
General's office has since issued a ruling declaring the
superintendent's contract amendment was illegal.
In February of 2003 BOE Chairperson French gave testimony to Maryland's
House Ways and Means Committee in Annapolis regarding Howard County's
practices and procedures. AFTER testifying, NOT BEFORE, Mr. Blom, who
was present, informed our Board Chairperson she had given inaccurate
Superintendent O'Rourke, apparently enamored with Mr. Blom's legal
work, has additionally made him chief of staff. As other court cases
appear imminent, the BOE should seriously consider the source of its
Perhaps, the number of education related lawsuits in Howard County is
related to the operations of the Superintendent and his legal counsel.
For first time, revenues from income tax fall
Recession, decline in capital gains blamed; Schools' request frustrates Robey;
6.1% drop gives budget a $10 million battering
By Larry Carson
October 1, 2003
Howard County is among the nation's wealthiest places, but for the first time in
its history, income tax revenues suffered an absolute decline last year, county
budget officials said yesterday.
Raymond S. Wacks, the budget director, said falling tax revenues -- the first
since the county began collecting income taxes in 1964 -- hit the state's most
prosperous counties hardest mainly because of unexpectedly heavy stock market
"This is being driven by a combination of the recession and the unprecedented
drop in capital gains," which was more severe in Howard "because of the big
earners" who live in the county, Wacks said.
The 6.1 percent drop in revenues left a $10 million hole in the Howard County
budget for the year that ended June 30, county officials announced yesterday as
the school board began reviewing a record request for school construction money
for 2004- 2005 that is more than double this fiscal year's amount.
The budget problems and the school request emphasize the increasing and
conflicting pressures on County Executive James N. Robey. Tax protesters want
less spending and lower taxes, and school officials and advocates ask for more
each year. Pat Dornan, president of the Howard County Taxpayers Association, is
pushing for a charter amendment to limit taxes or spending.
"There is no way I can fund $150 million under current conditions. I am
frustrated that they can ask for it," Robey said of the superintendent's
request, which is $88 million more than the amount the schools received for
building projects this year.
News of the budget woes prompted quick criticism from Republican Del. Warren E.
"I really have to question the county's budget process," he said, arguing that
spending increased during the boom of the late 1990s but did not decline enough
after the boom ended.
Robey, a Democrat, rejected that view.
"To put it bluntly, that's political B.S. I wish Howard County had the federal
government to give us $300 million like the state of Maryland got," he said,
referring to federal homeland security funds the state received.
He contends that the county has "taken every precaution to be conservative in
our projections, prudent in our financial planning and diligent in our
Despite the lower revenues, Wacks said, the county had a $300,000 surplus in the
past fiscal year because of canceled purchases, scattered leftover funds and
one-time bookkeeping devices that pushed some expenses past July 1 into the
current fiscal year.
Based on the lower revenue, Wacks said, he fears that estimates in the current
budget might be up to $20 million short, a problem that could force more
emergency cutbacks. Robey has $9.5 million put aside to pay for half of a 4
percent pay increase for county employees.
A large income tax rate increase approved in the spring will not take effect
until Jan. 1, Wacks said.
The school construction request illustrates the other side of Robey's budget
squeeze in a county in which schools are a top priority. "Everything we do in
county government is driven by education," Robey said, noting that not much is
left for the rest of government after education gets the biggest share.
"It's very difficult to do anything that in your heart you know is detrimental
to the school system," he said, but "somebody's got to pay for it."
Robey noted seemingly contradictory complaints he has heard from taxpayers,
which he characterized as : "I moved here for the great school system, not for a
Robey tried unsuccessfully last year to get state legislative approval of a real
estate transfer tax increase to pay for more schools, and he plans to try that
The executive said he has not talked to school board members about trimming the
request but that "it is troubling when I hear some of their comments without any
thought of how we're going to pay for it."
Board members said they have yet to review the budget. "I think there is a very
high likelihood the board will be making changes to that budget," member
Courtney Watson said.
She also criticized the request. "When you have one year at $150 million and you
have [the next] five years at $50 million [average per year], it doesn't appear
to be good planning."
Sandra H. French, the school board chairman, said, "If there's anything we can
defer even for one year, we'll try to do that." But she was not backing down
from the board's wish list.
"If we don't lay out our honest needs, people will say, 'You didn't plan
properly,' " she said.
Dornan is angry about the big income tax increase Robey engineered but said of
the schools, "If we need the seats in the classrooms, we need the seats. There's
no question the schools are overcrowded, and something will be done."
He said class sizes can grow and that new homes, such as the 45 going up around
crowded Bushy Park Elementary, which his children attend, should have been
delayed until a septic system problem was solved.
Venter wants OK by state of severance
Fired schools official will sue, lawyer says, if request is rejected; Package
request scaled down
By Tricia Bishop
October 1, 2003
Fired Howard County school system business chief Bruce Venter is making a
last-ditch effort to have his severance request honored and his dignity
restored, or he intends to file a civil suit against the school board, which he
accuses of allowing Superintendent John R. O'Rourke to abuse his power.
Venter's lawyer, education activist Allen Dyer, said yesterday that he would ask
the Maryland State Board of Education to approve compensation for the surprise
termination Sept. 5. If members refuse, he will file a lawsuit against the
county board in Circuit Court, Dyer said.
The package request has been pared severely from the original, which had sought
one year's salary -- $131,325. Venter now is seeking a month's salary -- $10,943
-- with payment for accumulated sick leave and vacation time, health insurance
premiums for six months and legal fees of up to $3,000.
Venter also wants the opportunity to preserve his self-respect and find another
job. To that end, he has asked that the school system allow him to resign and to
not give prospective employers details about his employment other than a letter
signed by O'Rourke stating Venter's competence.
"That's just to clear the air," Venter said of the letter. "As far as I'm
concerned, I have not done anything that would entail termination."
The latest proposal was delivered to the county school board via e-mail and the
Postal Service last week, but members refused to read it on advice from their
attorney, Michael S. Molinaro, who in a letter mailed Thursday to Dyer said it
was his duty to "keep the Board impartial and not let its objectivity be
Dyer said Venter has no other recourse but to ask for intervention from the
state board or the court system.
"There's a number of problems with why this happened," Dyer said in an earlier
interview. "The first thing is that you have a summary termination. There was no
effort to comply with the statutory procedures, which include a written
notification, a chance to defend yourself and a chance to go before the [county]
Dyer said that indicates to him that the local school board is refusing to play
by the rules, and that appealing to its members would be pointless.
"The Board of Education is unlawfully delegating authority to the superintendent
to summarily dismiss employees, and they don't have the power to do that, so
this is a board problem," Dyer said. "The superintendent is just the
functionary. The people who are causing this is the Board of Education of Howard
Last week, school system attorney Mark Blom rebutted Dyer's position and said
Venter's firing was not subject to the statutory rules that Dyer notes, but that
it ultimately would be a decision from the state board or a Circuit Court judge.
Sandra H. French, the county board chairman, has said that she cannot comment on
the subject because it could come before members on appeal, though Venter and
Dyer have vowed not to bring any such action to them. She also has said that it
is not board business at this point, but a matter "between the superintendent
and his employees."
Venter said the board could have ended the case weeks ago if it had stepped in
as he implored.
"It's a way to resolve this thing and put it behind everyone," Venter said. "I
don't understand why the board can't grasp this situation."
Venter has said that O'Rourke dismissed him without notice Sept. 5 because
construction of a county high school is behind schedule. O'Rourke has refused to
comment on the subject.
Does anyone know how many people are employed by HCPSS who do not work
directly with a school or kids? I am not sure exactly how to word it, but
Central Office staff....administration, support staff, resource teachers,
etc. Also, is this
information available for other counties in the area?
Education expert vouches for school choice
October 1, 2003
FOR THE past week, the U.S. Senate has been debating whether to extend to poor
parents the same choices that rich people have for their children's education.
Let's not mince words about it. That's exactly what's going on in Washington.
During the summer, the House of Representatives approved a $40 million spending
bill for the District of Columbia. Part of the package included about $10
million to provide "opportunity scholarships" of up to $7,500 for 1,300 poor
D.C. public school students attending so-called learning institutions where
anything but learning is going on. Now the Senate gets to debate its own voucher
The plan would allow parents of those students the choice of sending their kids
to a private school. Opponents of school vouchers have screamed bloody murder
and argued that the proposal will siphon dollars from public schools. But Casey
Lartigue doesn't see it that way.
Lartigue is the education policy analyst for the Cato Institute, a libertarian
think tank in Washington. Lartigue, an African-American, described himself as a
one-time liberal who believed in all the liberal things, like affirmative action
and such. It took only one debate with libertarians about affirmative action
during Lartigue's college days at Harvard to get him to question his views.
"Originally, I didn't like them," Lartigue said of vouchers. "Initially, I
agreed with a lot of the analysis about them being bad for public schools. I
changed my mind when I considered 'Hey, [vouchers] just might work.'"
There are still those who sincerely believe, as Lartigue once did, that vouchers
will be bad for public schools. Two of them are Maryland's senators, Paul
Sarbanes and Barbara Mikulski. Both issued statements regarding vouchers. Here's
what they said.
Mikulski: "Private school vouchers drain desperately needed funding from already
struggling public schools. The $13 million included in this legislation for
vouchers is not a good use of scarce federal funds. I voted against the
Education bill earlier this year because there wasn't enough money for our
schools, including teacher training and special education. Now Congress is
taking away more money for private school vouchers. Public funds should be spent
on public schools, not on private vouchers for a few lucky students."
Sarbanes (from his press secretary, Jesse Jacobs): "Senator Sarbanes is
committed to the pluralist system of education that we are fortunate to have in
this country, but does not support diverting scarce Federal funds away from the
public education system. In the Senator's view, the issue is not the value of
private schools to our communities, but how best to use scarce Federal resources
to rejuvenate public education."
Why, bless their liberal little hearts! They still think -- despite the evidence
of some of Baltimore's worst middle and high schools, where lack of discipline,
not lack of dollars, impedes learning -- that the solution for public education
is more money. (D.C. spends more per student than every state but has the
second-worst school system in the country.)
For Lartigue, the issue is one of choice. You'd think liberals would be able to
understand choice -- they give it knee-jerk support when the issue is
terminating a fetus -- but they pretend not to know what it is when the issue is
"I see education as a service," Lartigue said. "Give people information and let
Lartigue is not swayed one iota by the excuses bureaucrats and politicians give
for poor public schools: lack of money, crowded classrooms, etc. Just 11 days
ago, he stood within mere blocks of Frederick Douglass' historic home in the
Anacostia section of the nation's capital, talking about the self-educated
19th-century orator, abolitionist, diplomat and newspaper editor.
"At one time Douglass taught a class of 40 slaves to read in a barn," Lartigue
noted, "when it was illegal."
In other words, according to Lartigue, Douglass and those slaves didn't make any
excuses then, so it behooves all of us -- with far more resources and freedom --
not to make excuses now.
We in Baltimore -- where Douglass lived and taught himself to read -- would do
very well to heed that observation.
The Performance Audit showed we have 5.5 central office staff for each
1000 students while Montgomery County has 4.2 central office staff for
each 1000 students.
The Performance Audit did a real good job or comparing this type of
data across counties. I would check there for the exact information
you are looking for. It is a couple of years old now. Montgomery
County has slashed their central office staff by almost 10% since the
Performance Audit was conducted.
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "Heinlein - Eric S." <
> Does anyone know how many people are employed by HCPSS who do not work
> directly with a school or kids? I am not sure exactly how to word it, but
> I mean
> Central Office staff....administration, support staff, resource teachers,
> etc. Also, is this
> information available for other counties in the area?
A boss is only as good as the people he/she chooses to perform work at
his/her direction. If O'Rourke and Blom were my employees, and in some
senses (I am a taxpayer), they are, I would fire them for a number of
reasons, not the least of which is misappropriating my money (tax dollars)
to defend lawsuits brought on by their own poorly-counseled actions. I
don't need any more gift-wrap or magazines or pizza kits - instead, I'd like
to see my (education) tax dollars used to educate the children in Howard
Your open letter to the Board is well said, Barry. You've succinctly stated
what many of us have been trying to conceptualize.
God dammit Barry, I have been yelping at you for years to compare
apples to apples and oranges to oranges. What do MoCo and HoCo
atribute to cental staffs - PPW's, Psychologists, ESOL, Social
Workers etc any differences? In your former life were you a fed
mangement analyst? The Performance Audit doesn't say doodly squat
about attributing these folks to which management unit.
--- In email@example.com, "perlpubl" <Perlpubl@e...>
> The Performance Audit showed we have 5.5 central office staff for
> 1000 students while Montgomery County has 4.2 central office staff
> each 1000 students.
> The Performance Audit did a real good job or comparing this type of
> data across counties. I would check there for the exact
> you are looking for. It is a couple of years old now. Montgomery
> County has slashed their central office staff by almost 10% since
> Performance Audit was conducted.
> Barry Tevelow
> --- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "Heinlein - Eric S." <
> heinlein@u...> wrote:
> > Does anyone know how many people are employed by HCPSS who do not
> > directly with a school or kids? I am not sure exactly how to word
> > I mean
> > Central Office staff....administration, support staff, resource
> > etc. Also, is this
> > information available for other counties in the area?
> > Thanks.
I agree with you I am not comparing apples to apples -- but, Eric asked
and the Performance Audit is a good place to start.
Further, I think it is significant the school system itself can not
answer the question. They play all sorts of games with numbers as to
who works with students and who does not.
They also play all sorts of games with numbers when it comes to
teacher:student ratios, as witnessed when Allan K. asked the school
system these exact questions.
If I was able to compare apples to apples and oranges to oranges, I
would gladly do so -- please let me know when the information is
--- In email@example.com, "bobrosebrough21045" <
> God dammit Barry, I have been yelping at you for years to compare
> apples to apples and oranges to oranges. What do MoCo and HoCo
> atribute to cental staffs - PPW's, Psychologists, ESOL, Social
> Workers etc any differences? In your former life were you a fed
> mangement analyst? The Performance Audit doesn't say doodly squat
> about attributing these folks to which management unit.
> --- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "perlpubl" <Perlpubl@e...>
> > Eric,
> > The Performance Audit showed we have 5.5 central office staff for
> > 1000 students while Montgomery County has 4.2 central office staff
> > each 1000 students.
> > The Performance Audit did a real good job or comparing this type of
> > data across counties. I would check there for the exact
> > you are looking for. It is a couple of years old now. Montgomery
> > County has slashed their central office staff by almost 10% since
> > Performance Audit was conducted.
> > Barry Tevelow
> > --- In email@example.com, "Heinlein - Eric S." <
> > heinlein@u...> wrote:
> > > Does anyone know how many people are employed by HCPSS who do not
> > > directly with a school or kids? I am not sure exactly how to word
> it, but
> > > I mean
> > > Central Office staff....administration, support staff, resource
> > > etc. Also, is this
> > > information available for other counties in the area?
> > >
> > >
> > > Thanks.
Barry, one point I see is that there is a conflict of interest.
The BOE has only one employee - the superintendent. Mr. Blom
directly reports to the superintendent. How can he advise the BOE on
the superintendent's contract without the conflict of interest?
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "perlpubl" <Perlpubl@e...>
> An Open Letter to the Board of Education:
> Over the last several years, Howard County Public School System
> counsel, Mark Blom, has given advice to our Board of Education
> on a variety of topics.
> Mr. Blom has repeatedly given advice regarding Open Meetings Laws
> our Board of Education (BOE). Maryland's Open Meeting Compliance
> subsequently found our BOE to be in violation on repeated
> While some practices have improved, transgressions have continued
> court battles have ensued, wasting valuable county resources.
> In October of 2002, legal counsel gave advice to our BOE on
> our Superintendent's contract nearly a year and half prior to what
> state law allows.
> BOE member O'Donnell noted that legal counsel gave the advice "it
> illegal until a court rules on it". Ex-BOE member Schuchardt noted
> that legal counsel put in writing that all actions taken in the
> meeting to amend the superintendent's were legal. The Attorney
> General's office has since issued a ruling declaring the
> superintendent's contract amendment was illegal.
> In February of 2003 BOE Chairperson French gave testimony to
> House Ways and Means Committee in Annapolis regarding Howard
> practices and procedures. AFTER testifying, NOT BEFORE, Mr. Blom,
> was present, informed our Board Chairperson she had given
> Superintendent O'Rourke, apparently enamored with Mr. Blom's legal
> work, has additionally made him chief of staff. As other court
> appear imminent, the BOE should seriously consider the source of
> legal advice.
> Perhaps, the number of education related lawsuits in Howard County
> related to the operations of the Superintendent and his legal
> Barry Tevelow
Conflict of interest -- YES INDEED!
Apparently you understand much more about this situation than
some members of our Board.
Any comment on being Chief of Staff AND Legal Counsel? Sure
makes handling a complaint a little tricky.
--- In email@example.com, "pkbosworth"
> Barry, one point I see is that there is a conflict of interest.
> The BOE has only one employee - the superintendent. Mr.
> directly reports to the superintendent. How can he advise the
> the superintendent's contract without the conflict of interest?
> Paul Bosworth
> --- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "perlpubl"
> > An Open Letter to the Board of Education:
> > Over the last several years, Howard County Public School
> > counsel, Mark Blom, has given advice to our Board of
> > on a variety of topics.
> > Mr. Blom has repeatedly given advice regarding Open
> > our Board of Education (BOE). Maryland's Open Meeting
> > subsequently found our BOE to be in violation on repeated
> > While some practices have improved, transgressions have
> > court battles have ensued, wasting valuable county
> > In October of 2002, legal counsel gave advice to our BOE on
> > our Superintendent's contract nearly a year and half prior to
> > state law allows.
> > BOE member O'Donnell noted that legal counsel gave the
> > illegal until a court rules on it". Ex-BOE member Schuchardt
> > that legal counsel put in writing that all actions taken in the
> > meeting to amend the superintendent's were legal. The
> > General's office has since issued a ruling declaring the
> > superintendent's contract amendment was illegal.
> > In February of 2003 BOE Chairperson French gave testimony
> > House Ways and Means Committee in Annapolis regarding
> > practices and procedures. AFTER testifying, NOT BEFORE,
> > was present, informed our Board Chairperson she had given
> > information.
> > Superintendent O'Rourke, apparently enamored with Mr.
> > work, has additionally made him chief of staff. As other court
> > appear imminent, the BOE should seriously consider the
> > legal advice.
> > Perhaps, the number of education related lawsuits in
> > related to the operations of the Superintendent and his legal
> > Barry Tevelow
I presume Mr. O'Donnell would want his response publicized --
With all due respect, your accusations are all wrong as are your
understanding of the "facts". Some in the community blame the BOE, Mark
and the Superintendent for anything that they think is "wrong". Wrong
almost always means not done the way they prefer. These divisive and
completely inappropriate attacks on the authority of the BOE to make
decisions that some don't like are the reason for the OMA complaints
and supply support for those that are suing, not because of supposed
OMA violations but, because they want to change the OMA.
Let's deal with your misconceptions individually.
!) You stated that "Marylandâ€™s Open Meeting Compliance Board
subsequently found our BOE to be in violation on repeated occasions.
While some practices have improved, transgressions have continued and
court battles have ensued, wasting valuable county resources."
In 2000 the BOE violated the OMA (before Blom was giving advice) twice.
Meeting minutes were late and one legally closed meeting was not
noticed to the public. Also, 3 out 0f 40 or so topics discussed at
Executive Function meetings that year were considered inappropriate.
Since that time there have been accusations but NO VIOLATIONS. To use
the phrase "transgressions have continued" is totally inaccurate.
To say "court battles have ensued, wasting valuable county resources"
as if BOE actions, after Blom advised the BOE on how to set up
procedures to avoid even unintended violations of the OMA, were the
cause for the suits is WRONG. The suits are aimed at changing the OMA,
which the BOE has no authority to do, but unfortunately and
frustratingly , valuable county resources are being spent even though
no OMA violations have occurred since 2000.
2) You stated that "In October of 2002, legal counsel gave advice to
our BOE on amending our Superintendentâ€™s contract nearly a year and
half prior to what state law allows. .... The Attorney General's office
has since issued a ruling declaring the superintendent's contract
amendment was illegal."
Blom was not the legal counsel the BOE relied on for advice on the
Superintendent's contract amendment. We used outside counsel and did
not, and never intended to, extend or give the Superintendent a new=
contract before the proper time. Saying that "The Attorney General's
office has since issued a ruling declaring the superintendent's
contract amendment was illegal." is wrong. The A J office issued a
letter of "advice", equivalent in weight to the "advice" we had from
outside counsel that the amendment was legal. Attorneys can disagree
and, as I have said before, the only definitive resolution to differing
legal "advice" is a court ruling. Without that, the legality or
illegality of the amendment is not known. Until the A J office letter
of advice there had been no action disputing the legality of the
contract amendment, that had been in the Montgomery County
Superintendent's contract for years.
So, your conclusion that "the number of education related lawsuits in
Howard County is related to the operations of the Superintendent and
his legal counsel" is wrong.
Therefore, your other conclusion "As other court cases appear imminent,
the BOE should seriously consider the source of its legal advice" is
also wrong. The BOE has not violated the OMA since 2000. They admitted
to the unintentional violations in 2000 and, with Mr. Blom's help and
advice, changed the practices and procedures to avoid further problems.
Those changes have been successful. THERE HAVE BEEN NO OMA VIOLATIONS
I hope you accept this e-mail as respectful but candid. If I am wrong
or unfair please let me know. I have responded with my understanding of
what happened and is happening. I will always listen and, when wrong,
will admit my mistakes.
HCPSS BOE member
(responding as an individual)
My Response Back To Jim O'Donnell --
Thanks for taking the time to respond. Our understanding of the
"facts" differ --
Jim: "In 2000 the BOE violated the OMA (before Blom was giving
advice) twice. Meeting minutes were late and one legally
closed meeting was not noticed to the public. Also, 3 out 0f 40 or so
topics discussed at Executive Function meetings that year
were considered inappropriate."
A. The Compliance Board found the BOE in violation on 10/18/00 and 2/
B. Actually Mark Blom WAS giving advice in 2000 as seen in these e-
mails from Sandie and John.
From: O'Rourke, J
Date: Mon, Jul 24,2000 4:08 PM
Subject: Open meetings
To: Bd Members & Supt
I don't know, since we haven't met yet, the proper protocol
so I will simply suggest
1. that we plan on meeting at 3:00pm on Thursday for the
purposed of going into a closed session to consult with council
about the Open Meeting Act.
2. In order to do that, we advertise the meeting "for the
purpose of consulting with council."
3. The exact purpose will be to review with the Board the
requirements for the Public Meeting Act. Before you ask, yes
you can have a private meeting to discuss the Public Meeting Act.
4. If we do this, and I need to hear from you, then we will
advertise the meeting. The review is perfectly natural
given a new superintendent. There is no sense of having done
anything wrong in the past, although we can discuss that and answer
any questions of propriety when we do meet.
5. If there are any other topics that you want discussed, they
should be reviewed with Mark beforehand.
6. There is no requirement for an agenda. Before going
into private session, however, we need to put in writing the
topic(s) to be discussed and cite the authority for having the meeting.
We can take care of this for Thursday. Mark can be
available. I can ask Susan to take care of the proper notices.
Let me know what you think
From: French, S
Date: Tue, Jul 24,2000 10:23 PM
Subject: RE: Open meetings
To: Bd Members & Supt; O'Rourke, J
May I please put the brakes on this a bit? I agree we need
additional consideration in this area, but disagree with Laura that
every one of our 3 PM mtgs should be driven by the Open Meetings Act.
Let me remind you of events before I left ---
1. I have spoken to Mark Blom several times since January
about this issue. I asked for a letter last winter but it never
came. I asked again in response to (name w/held by Plaintiff) e-mail
about the 3 pm mtgs. I have not read any of my packet, but when I
left I was still waiting for a response letter for (name w/held by
Plaintiff) to be drafted by him which explained the difference
between meetings which are ruled by the Open Meetings Act and board
executive meetings which are NOT ruled by the Open Meetings Act.
2. We may have to alter some of our procedures, but I am not in
favor of doing so until I receive a written response from Mark to the
questions I e-mailed to him about a few months ago. Is that in
one of the packets I haven't read yet?
3. I believe that Mark could present the basic information
about the law at one of our regular board meetings. There's
nothing secret about this and the public would learn as well. If we
wanted to, it could go on Thursday's agenda.
Just my personal 20%
Jim: "Since that time there have been accusations but NO VIOLATIONS.
To use the phrase "transgressions have continued" is totally
I am not strictly speaking of OMA violations, though those are
debatable. Not adhering to Maryland Regulations, not following
policies, not following minutes rules; the contract amendment all
constitute violations and transgressions to me.
As just one example, can you tell me how frequently minutes are duly
approved at the first subsequent meeting as called for in COMAR? I
characterize this as a transgression since COMAR is being violated --
Title 13A STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION
Subtitle 02 LOCAL SCHOOL ADMINISTRATION
Chapter 01 Local Boards of Education
.02 Records and Reports.
Minutes. The local superintendent shall keep accurate minutes of the
proceedings of each meeting of the local board of education and, after
the minutes have been duly approved at the first subsequent meeting,
shall record the proceedings. This record shall be a public record.
Jim: -- To say "court battles have ensued, wasting valuable county
resources" as if BOE actions, after Blom advised the BOE on how to set
up procedures to avoid even unintended violations of the OMA, were the
cause for the suits is WRONG. The suits are aimed at changing the OMA,
which the BOE has no authority to do, but unfortunately and
frustratingly , valuable county resources are being spent even though
no OMA violations have occurred since 2000.
My Comments: We could debate the reasons for the lawsuits -- I may
even agree with some of your points. But, there have been costly
court cases not involving the OMA. I think it is quite fair to say
valuable county resources have been wasted and there are other ways the
BOE could deal with complainents other than going to court. I'd be
glad to present a seminar to you and others on this topic.
Jim: -- The A J office issued a letter of "advice", equivalent in
weight to the "advice" we had from outside counsel that the amendment
was legal. Attorneys can disagree and, as I have said before, the only
definitive resolution to differing legal "advice" is a court ruling.
Without that, the legality or illegality of the amendment is not known.
Until the A J office letter of advice there had been no action
disputing the legality of the contract amendment, that had been in the
Montgomery County Superintendent's contract for years.
My Comments: Yes, the AG issued an advisory letter. However, I would
hardly equate an opinion handed down by the Attorney General's office
with the advice of lawyers who have a large stake in the advice they
are giving. Some might even call it a conflict of interest.
JIM -- The BOE admitted to the unintentional violations in 2000 and,
with Mr. Blom's help and advice, changed the practices and procedures
to avoid further problems. Those changes have been successful. THERE
HAVE BEEN NO OMA VIOLATIONS SINCE 2000.
My Comments: I must say -- you make OMA sound like rocket science.
I'm not a lawyer and I can read the 14 reasons allowed for going into
closed session. Nevertheless, I have seen, noted, and thanked the BOE
for some of the practices and procedures which have been implemented
to avoid further problems. Unfortunately, several Board Members have
contended publicly they have never done anything wrong. We live in a
very forgiving society, yet in order to move forward it is necessary
to acknowledge past transgressions and make a sincere attempt to make
JIM --. So, your conclusion that "the number of education related
lawsuits in Howard County is related to the operations of the
Superintendent and his legal counsel" is wrong. " as is the conclusion
"As other court cases appear imminent, the BOE should seriously
consider the source of its legal advice."
My Comments: Actually I think your perspective of the "facts" have
made my conclusions that much stronger.
Again, I appreciate you taking the time to respond and I am more than
willing to help BOE members restore credibility to the institution
and regain the public trust.
We would like to remind you of this upcoming event.
College Financial Planning Workshop
Date: Thursday, October 2, 2003
Time: 7:30PM - 9:30PM EDT (GMT-04:00)
Reschedual of workshop that was cancelled due to the weather.
Please also note the recommendation to use safety seats (boosters) until age 8 or 10, though the law doesn't demand it. Be sure to get the word out in school newsletters if it hasn't been announced already!
For more than a decade, new parents have flocked to Deborah Baer's home, where the obstetric nurse may teach dozens of them a week how to properly install car seats for their children.
They hear about her through the grapevine, call her up and soon they are getting private car seat lessons in her Pikesville driveway.
Yesterday, she demonstrated for an assembled crowd how to use car booster seats for older children - and, in turn, how to comply with one of a series of new laws that goes into effect today.
The law, passed by the 2002 General Assembly, requires that all children younger than age 6, regardless of weight, or who weigh 40 pounds or less, regardless of age, be in a safety seat while riding in the car. For example, a 7-year-old who weighs 37 pounds or a 3-year-old who weighs 42 pounds would be required to use some kind of safety seat.
Under the old law, children who reached age 4 and weighed 40 pounds could sit on a regular seat - as long as they wore a seat belt. The new law will not apply to children riding in vehicles registered in other states.
"Unfortunately, there are too many people out there with children in their cars who are not safe," first lady Kendel Ehrlich said at a news conference to promote awareness of the law.
Violators may be fined $25, but the infraction is not a moving violation. Those who receive a ticket can have the fine waived if they buy a booster seat and bring the receipt to court.
Children older than 4 typically fit in what is called a booster seat, which raises them enough for the regular shoulder harness to more ably protect them from injury in a crash. The seats can be purchased for as little as $15, but various agencies will make them available at no cost to those who can't afford one.
"Be sure your kids are in booster seats, your grandkids are in booster seats and everyone you know spreads the word," said Deputy Transportation Secretary Trent M. Kittleman.
While the law requires the seats only up to age 6, child-safety advocates urge parents to keep their children in them until age 8 or 10, when the child is large enough to fit into the seat belt properly. The problem with seat belts, Baer said, is that they were designed for men who are an average of 5 foot 9 and 165 pounds.
"There's no way a parent would send a child to school in the morning in [the parent's] ... clothes," she said. So parents shouldn't put their children in grown-ups' seat belts, either.
Motor vehicle crashes are the top cause of death for children younger than 14. Fatality rates have declined for children younger than 4, but have been unchanged for children ages 5 to 9, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Brandon Culpepper, a sales associate at the Baby Depot inside the Annapolis Burlington Coat Factory, said he has seen sales of booster seats - which in his store range from $40 to $80 - increase "quite a bit" in recent days.
Mr. Dyer, I have a question about the news article in the Baltimore
Sun concerning what you are doing for Mr. Venter.
I find it puzzling that you have sued the BOE for not following
procedure and now you are advising your client to do the same. My
understanding is that the procedure for a terminated school employee
who feels they were terminated unjustly is to appeal to the BOE.
However, your client does not want to do that and you are
threatening the BOE with a lawsuit if they do not grant your client
a severance package. You are trying to put the BOE in the position
of not following procedures. If they had accepted your offer, would
you have then sued them for not following their procedures?
Not knowing all of the facts in this case, I don't understand why
Mr. Venter feels he is entitled to any severance (and now he wants a
letter of recommendation). Does Mr. Venter have a contract that
entitles him to this?
It is curious to me that Mr. Venter was terminated just before the
capital budget was finalized. Is it possible that Mr. O'Rourke
realized that several of the projects in the budget were costing
more than anticipated and he terminated the Business Manager who was
responsible for managing construction costs? I am not a supporter
of Mr. O'Rourke's, but I believe he has the right to manage his
employees as he sees fit.
I don't know if we will ever know the truth or both sides of the
I hope the BOE uses the approximately $135K that is saved from Mr.
Venter's salary that is already budgeted for this year and re-
allocates that back to hiring 2-3 teachers!!
In a message dated 10/1/2003 11:15:22 PM Eastern Daylight Time, pkbosworth@... writes:
Is it possible that Mr. O'Rourke realized that several of the projects in the budget were costing more than anticipated and he terminated the Business Manager who was responsible for managing construction costs?
You mean the $5 million cost to get the 12th HS back on schedule??? I wondered the same thing.
Prior to that news, I was thinking the firing stemmed, in part, from the HC Times' editorial dated Sept 4, 2003 (below) which was published the day before Venter was fired, but praised him.
Also, you make a good point about the double-standard of following procedures (appealing to the board) ... I was wondering the same thing. I also agree with your earlier statement about the conflict-of-interest (school system attorney counseling the board).
Even with tight budget, spend now, save later
Give Bruce Venter credit for thinking outside the tank.
The county schools' chief business officer, faced with a septic problem, has suggested a solution that gives ammunition to those fighting a plan to build a new high school in Marriottsville, and would cost more in the short run than a more conventional fix.
Venter said last week that climbing enrollments at Bushy Park Elementary would, in the near future, overburden the school's septic system, and that the school will still be over capacity after a planned $12 million renovation plan. So Venter suggested the Board of Education consider an alternative: Scrap the renovation and build a new school on a new site.
The estimated price tag on that idea is $20 million. A public official who suggests increasing a project's cost by two-thirds, even when budget-cutting isn't a priority, does so at his own risk.
Foes of plans to build a new high school near Mount View Middle School in Marriottsville have long argued that the site can't handle the sewage the school would produce, and point to the Bushy Park situation as an example of what could happen should that plan be implemented.
So Venter has done a brave thing in speaking his Bushy Park idea out loud.
Paying that extra $8 million now could save the taxpayers a ton more later, and it's better to effect an orderly shift to a new school now than to hurriedly attempt a move under the gun of imminent septic failure, perhaps throwing a monkey wrench into an already tortured redistricting process.
Venter's idea may ultimately prove impractical, but school board members would do well to explore the possibility.
----- Original Message -----
From: "pkbosworth" <pkbosworth@...>
Sent: Wednesday, October 01, 2003 11:13 PM
Subject: [howardpubliced] Questions about Mr. Dyer's threat to sue BOE
> Mr. Dyer, I have a question about the news article in the Baltimore
> Sun concerning what you are doing for Mr. Venter.
> I find it puzzling that you have sued the BOE for not following
> procedure and now you are advising your client to do the same.
i am NOT advising my client to avoid following proper procedure.
based on the legal research i have done (and continue to do) i believe an
appeal direct to the state board (possibly followed by an appeal to the circuit
court) is the proper procedure in this particular case. i am currently
working on the petition to the state board and when it is filed (within the
next couple of days) i will post a copy to this list. i think that petition
answer your questions, however, after you get a chance to read the petition
please don't hesitate to post/repost any questions that may remain.
like barry, i, too, thank mr. o'donnell for responding to barry's letter.
it would be a shame, however, if the only member of the board to take
the effort to respond is it's appointed member. i expect elected officials
to be a bit more attentive to the public.
as to the cost of litigation involving the board, there are times when
i get frustrated with the apparent desire of the board to spend whatever
is necessary to combat anyone that questions their decisions/non-decisions.
once in a while, however, they will do the right thing and attempt to
control some unnecessary costs.
for example, the board purchased transcripts of the trial witness
testimony in dyer v. boe and in order for me to appeal judge dudley's
opinion it is necessary for a transcript of all testimony to be included
in the court file. the board's attorney (mr. stellman) provided the
clerk with the transcript which had already been purchased thereby
preventing the purchase of a second copy of the transcript by me.
this was a logical move by the board since any money i spend to purchase
transcripts probably will have to be reimbursed by the board if i win the
appeal (depends on what the appellate judges say regarding costs).
regardless, the board seems to be incapable of negotiating a settlement
of anything and that is real costly to taxpayers. maybe the board thinks
that by playing hardball they will discourage citizens from pursuing
i guess one way to resolve the issue of whether or not the board is
getting good legal advice from mr. blom would be for the board to
make his advice (as a public employee) available to the public that
pays his salary.
In the interest of full disclosure and to be fair --- Courtney
communicates with me and Sandie does as well when she feels it is
> it would be a shame, however, if the only member of the board to
> the effort to respond is it's appointed member. i expect elected
> to be a bit more attentive to the public.
Open meetings case may go to Md. high court Lawyer seeks to overturn decision that limits suits
By Tricia Bishop Sun Staff Originally published October 2, 2003
An Ellicott City lawyer said yesterday that he will ask Maryland's highest court to overturn a Howard County judge's ruling that limits legal challenges under the state open-meetings law.
The ruling in August - that citizens cannot sue under the law unless they have suffered specific damages - has the news media and some members of the public in an uproar. They fear it would make open-government laws unenforceable.
The Maryland-Delaware-DC Press Association plans to file a joint motion as soon as today, requesting permission to intervene in the case, said Executive Director Jim Donahue. The motion - filed on behalf of 12 newspapers, including The Sun - seeks to submit a "friend of the court" brief in lawyer Allen Dyer's appeal stressing the importance of the public's role in enforcing the Open Meetings Act.
Dyer has filed a notice of appeal with the Court of Special Appeals, which typically hears such complaints involving Circuit Court rulings. But he now wants the Court of Appeals, Maryland's top judicial body, to handle the ruling. The high court usually receives about 700 such requests each year.
"It's definitely of such great public interest that it is only right and proper for the highest court in the state to address the issue," said Dyer, who initiated the lawsuit against the Howard County school board in November 2000, claiming its members met secretly and illegally.
The Howard Circuit Court ruling, signed Aug. 8 by Judge James B. Dudley, said Dyer did not have the legal standing to sue the county Board of Education for alleged violations of the Maryland Open Meetings Act because he did not show that he had a property interest affected adversely.
"In effect, Judge Dudley repealed the Open Meetings Act because he repealed the ability of the average citizen to enforce it," said Dyer, who, along with media attorneys and open-government activists, believes the state law should be enforced by the public.
"It basically obligates the citizens of the state to make sure that their government operates in the open," Dyer said. Dudley's ruling goes against that sentiment, he said, requiring actual damages to claim a grievance.
"As a member of the public, you certainly should have sufficient standing to sue because that's what the open-meetings laws are all about - namely, public access to these meetings," said Carol Melamed, chairwoman of the Governmental Affairs Committee of the Maryland-Delaware-DC Press Association.
News media representatives also worry that the ruling will be interpreted to make it more difficult for them to perform their watchdog duties.
"The Open Meetings Act is used by the media to gather and report information to the public," Donahue said. "If this decision were construed by other people to say that the press didn't have standing, then the act from the press' point of view is meaningless."
The 11 other newspapers behind the press association's motion are: The Washington Post, Maryland Gazette Newspapers, The Washington Times, Annapolis Capital, The Frederick News-Post, The Hagerstown Herald-Mail, Daily Times in Salisbury, The Daily Record in Baltimore, Carroll County Times, Dundalk Eagle and Ocean City Today.
For the Court of Appeals to hear Dyer's case, he has to persuade members that the issue is of great public interest.
"It has to have some importance beyond the parties in the case," said Robert M. Bell, chief judge of the Maryland Court of Appeals. "We are a policy-making court so it has to further that duty that we have, and have a rather general broad interest to the bench and bar ... an issue that would affect a broad section of the population in terms of the legal effect and ramifications."
The school board's attorney, Leslie R. Stellman, said he is not convinced this is such a case.
"It does not, in my opinion, involve such a momentous issue that it requires the Court of Appeals to look at the case," Stellman said. "It just requires an interpretation of the law."
Stellman said he doesn't know if he will oppose Dyer's request, but noted that if he does and the Court of Appeals does not hear the case, it likely would be resolved by the Court of Special Appeals.
Dyer hopes his case makes it to the top. "When the Court of Appeals speaks," Dyer said, "everybody listens."
If the appeal is successful, the lawsuit would be sent back to Dudley, who would have to rule on Dyer's allegations against the Howard school board.
Fungus forces pupils to relocate Middle school closes trailer to assess air quality; Kids, teacher complain of illness
By Jennifer McMenamin Sun Staff Originally published October 2, 2003
Concerned that moldy carpets, water-damaged windowsills and a musty odor might be making teachers and children sick, Carroll County school officials emptied four portable classrooms yesterday at Mount Airy Middle School and said they will squeeze displaced pupils into the crowded main building until damage is repaired.
An air quality technician who inspected a trailer containing the four classrooms Tuesday afternoon took several test samples - the results of which won't be ready for three to four weeks - but recommended that the school not use the portables, which have been in use for at least 22 years.
"There was a lot of hidden fungus or fungi in the window wells and under the rugs and we decided to close it off and not put kids back in there until it's OK for children to be in there again," said Donald Pyles, the school system's middle schools director. "We don't know if that's what caused the children to feel bad, but we didn't want to take any chances."
Two sixth-grade teachers, a reading specialist and a health instructor who use the portables moved their belongings into the main building late Tuesday afternoon. They began teaching yesterday morning in classrooms available while other children are in gym, art, music and other specialty classes. School staff also moved a small special-education class into a smaller space, emptying the larger classroom for one of the displaced teachers.
"It's a disruption to the teachers whose classrooms are being used and to the teachers who have to move into those classrooms," said Principal Virginia Savell, who sent home a letter to parents yesterday. "It's an inconvenience - not a problem."
About 420 of the school's 760 pupils had attended at least one class in the trailer.
A mother first alerted Savell to a possible problem during a back-to-school gathering Sept. 11. "Have you noticed those portables smell funny?" the principal quoted the parent as saying.
"I thought probably the carpets had not been cleaned and asked my building supervisor about it," Savell said. "She checked it out and told me, 'No, it's not the carpets, but it does smell funny.'"
A teacher who divides her time between the portables and the main building soon complained of getting headaches after being in the portable classrooms, Savell said.
Parents began calling the school a week or two ago, Pyles said, blaming the four portables for their children's colds.
Exposure to mold growth can result in health problems, including headaches, breathing difficulties, skin irritation, allergic reactions and worse asthma symptoms, according to a guide from the Environmental Protection Agency called "Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings."
The school district's safety coordinator, who found the water damage when he visited the classroom trailer Friday afternoon, was concerned enough to request a more thorough inspection by a consultant who does the system's indoor air quality testing.
What he found - windowsills and the wooden skirting around the bottom of the portable classroom had sustained significant water damage and a section of floor in an office had started to give way - almost certainly was the result of long-term water infiltration, said Raymond Prokop, the school system's facilities director.
"He pulled back some carpet and I saw some whitish material on the back of the carpet," Prokop said. "It's not like some kind of bloom or anything. It was not something as obvious as that. What was obvious was the musty smell when you walked into that place."
By 2 p.m. yesterday, the aged portables had been emptied of everything but scattered tables, wall-mounted green chalkboards and bulletin boards and a few fall decorations. Despite the doors being open all day, a musty odor hung in the air of the trailer.
Outside, a crew of facilities workers had arrived with the huge shipping container in which desks, chairs and other supplies from the emptied classrooms will be stored until the portables are reopened.
Prokop, the facilities director, said work crews will begin tearing up carpets and pulling out wooden wall paneling "to see how far the damage goes." They will replace a rusted-out door, remove and recaulk all windows and install gutters and flashing to redirect rainwater that has been seeping into and collecting under the portable.
Although Savell said she was told a range of estimates on how long repairs might take - from two weeks to two months - Prokop was unwilling to offer a timeline.
"Until we open it up and actually assess the damage," he said, "it's extremely difficult to tell."
Angie Wali, president of Mount Airy Middle's PTSO, said she had not gotten calls of complaints from parents and had not heard of the air quality problem until she received Savell's letter.
Howard High School has been added to a list of struggling schools selected for intervention by the county Department of Education because of insufficient student performance.
"When you compare Howard's data with the rest of the county, [it is apparent] we have to provide additional resources," said Roger Plunkett, assistant superintendent for administration.
The Ellicott City high school did not make the progress last year that system officials had hoped to see in various areas, Plunkett said, such as having a higher percentage of students taking advanced-placement courses and raising test scores of special education students.
"We want to move now so that we don't waste this year in meeting those kids' needs," he added. "People have to understand simply that we're being pro-active instead of reactive."
Howard High's principal, Mary Day, did not return telephone calls seeking comment.
One parent worries that the school system's action could stigmatize students.
"I don't like schools to be labeled 'focus schools' because it's labeling them as deficient," said Melody Higgins, whose daughter is in the 11th grade at Howard High. "But if it will get them more resources, it could be a good thing."
Higgins said her daughter is using a history textbook held together with duct tape and that ends during the Reagan administration.
"Teachers are doing a great job with what they have to work with, but they're in a deficit position," Higgins said. "They don't have what they need to teach these kids, and then the scores are lower and you wonder why. What kind of mess is that?"
Plunkett said Howard has the same resources as other county schools, but it will soon have more. Part of being designated a school improvement unit (SIU) means additional funds and focus will be available.
The school's educators and classes are now under review to make sure they meet the county's goals, and staff members can expect extensive professional development to improve their skills, he said.
"Being an SIU school is not a stigma," Plunkett said. "It's an opportunity for everyone to work together to ensure the success of each child in that building. And that's what No Child Left Behind is all about."
The school system launched an accelerated achievement plan in March last year that aims to elevate all students to state standards by 2007. Fifteen lower-performing schools - eight elementary schools, five middle schools and two high schools - were chosen to receive intensive support, and Howard High has been added to that group.
Howard High will hold a school-improvement seminar for parents from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Oct. 14.
In a message dated 10/2/03 9:42:27 AM Eastern Daylight Time, bobrosebrough21045@... writes:
I am trying to figure how this categorization of Howard has affected
the progress of my three kids. Could more have been done so that they
would have had more collegiate choices than they had (USNA and USAFA
plus numerous scholarships at regular colleges) or higher SAT's
(1400+)? No telling what they would have done at Centennial or River
Hill. I think that I need to get with the Kim family to see if their
kids could have improved on their SAT's (1600). I feel exasperated
just as those parents with positive experiences at Oakland Mills must
feel. What the hell could have been done to ameliorate our kids'
negative experiences in our ghetto schools? Oh please spare us from
the meddling of central bureaucrats and their "focus." How about the
hairballs at Club 108 doing some highlighting of the successes at
Howard and Oakland Mills?
Did you see this month's Baltimore Magazine?
There is an article about getting into Ivy League Schools - and it says that kids from inner city schools or "ghetto" schools actually have a BETTER chance of getting into Ivy Leagues (based on doing well in that environment of course) than kids coming out of top notch private or public.
What a focus school gets is more help for the strugglers.... those kids who CAN'T succeed without extra attention - which takes money and staff. It is actually a boon for the whole school - altho it annoys you to have the school stuck with a negative label. When Sue Webster became the prinicpal at Triadelphia Ridge I helped put together her nomination package for an administrator of the year award. I interviewed her about her experience as the principal in a "focus school" Colombia - she said in spite of the extra challenges, there was an upside to the amount of resources they got because of the number of TItle I students - including both more money (in Fed aid) and more staff. The WHOLE school benefitted, not just the kids who were getting lost between the cracks.
It's interesting that this would be hitting Howard now. A few years ago, Phelp's Luck Elem got the extra bucks and staff due to the same situation. I guess those kids have progressed to Howard now. I will say that it made a big difference in PL.
"Foes of plans to build a new high school near Mount View Middle
School in Marriottsville have long argued that the site can't handle
the sewage the school would produce, and point to the Bushy Park
situation as an example of what could happen should that plan be
Plain and simple - this dog don't hunt (comparison of the 12th with
Bushy Park). 1. The failure of the fields at Bushy Park and Glenelg
took 40 years. Anybody want to forecast that far into the future as
per septic technology. 2. More to the point - the 12th will only be
a couple of miles from the terminus of sewage treatment (corner of
Mariottsville and 99) and, since the right of way exists for water
service, running a sewer line to Mount View doesn't seem overly
problematic. Bushy Park is a far different animal due the distance
to either the previously mentioned intersection or to Clarkesville.
I hate to upset our agrarian burghers, but urban servise will be
exteneded to 99 and 32 in my lifetime, count on it
My problem is that had Howard been given what every other school already has,
then perhaps the school would not have the low test scores. Like Bob's kids, my
daughter is also doing well, but is it because we are really involved parents,
great teachers, or is it just the inward motivation of the kids to succeed or
As was in the paper, Maureen is using a textbook that basically ends with the
Reagan administration. The book is in deplorable physical condition. I went on
line to try and find her a book that at least wasn't falling apart and
discovered that this textbook, "Enduring Visions" is now in its 5th Edition and
the book that is being used, the 2nd edition, is out of print. The book retails
(5th edition) at about $90. Suppose the BOE had purchased 30 books at the retail
price, it would have cost them $2700.00. And by the way, this is an AP U.S.
History Class. I wonder if the AP exam will exempt them from information after
Ronald Reagan? (serious sarcasm).
Then another example that I gave Tricia Bishop was Maureen's AP Psychology
Class. They did not have a book to use for the first two weeks of school,
finally getting borrowed texts from Hammond High. Now why does one school have
all of these extra books and one school has none? And if we can presume that
these books are comparable in cost to the history book, 30 books could be
purchased for the AP Psychology Class at a cost of another $2700.00. This plus
the history books would be a retail cost of $5400.00. A little more than half of
the feel good raise they gave to O'Rourke.
Sometimes I wish I didn't care so much, but the actions of the BOE have such far
reaching consequences for our school community to not care. Yes, our school will
get additional resources, but if it hadn't been ignored for so long, we wouldn't
need the extra resources. This list has discussed property values of homes in
focus school districts. I am sure that will come into play when we need/want to
sell our homes.
I also believe that if Howard had had an involved County Council person, (like
Oakland Mills had with Vernon Gray), that the school would not be having these
problems. I wrote to Chris Merdon at least 8 months ago about Howard and never
got a response. I also strongly think that the County Council needs a line item
veto power over the school budget. It is incredible to me that the BOE is given
millions of dollars and there is no oversight of how they spend it. As George
Bush says, we need a "regime change" on the BOE and it can't come soon enough
for our children.
that is interesting. it would certainly make good sense to try the
focus school approach on a cohort of kids over the term of their
K-12 experience. trying to correct gross differences in family/
community resources at the high school level only would seem
to be destined to fail.
would be nice if the central office would let the public know
a little more about what they were doing and WHY.
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Thursday, October 02, 2003 10:06 AM
Subject: Re: [howardpubliced] Re: Howard High joins struggling schools list
> It's interesting that this would be hitting Howard now. A few years ago,
> Phelp's Luck Elem got the extra bucks and staff due to the same situation. I
> those kids have progressed to Howard now. I will say that it made a big
> difference in PL.
Long time, no see! I'm glad to hear that Maureen is doing well. I was surprised that you didn't get in on the Higgin's paper fiasco. I could just imagine if Maureen had brought home that paper. Your mother would have gone after him. LOL
Seriously, I think part of the problem at Howard lies in the administration. They let the school run down. There has to be accountability in the school. Using books that are 3 editions behind is ludicrous. I think another part can be blamed on parents. If parents don't get involved and demand better, they won't get better. The squeaky wheel gets the grease. I know from our experience in Phelp's Luck that many of the parents in that district do not get involved. Teachers commented on that fact everytime we (Debbie and I, both) went in for conferences. I think this is part of the reason Centennial and River Hill do so well. They have a VERY involved PTSA and they won't accept mediocre anything!