Troy Park – Program Open Space Documents

There has been some concerns and discussion by people wishing to build High School #13 in Troy Park regarding Howard County’s statements that 80 of the 101 at Troy Park in Elkridge are encumbered because they were purchased with State Program Open Space funds. If so then the HCPSS cannot build the high school on those parcels unless the open space land is replaced. However, the County and the HCPSS seem to have no documents to show that Program Open Space funds were used.

I filled Public Information Act requests with the Maryland Board of Public Works and the Department of Natural Resources. An initial review does seem to show that Program Open Space funds were in fact used; generally the County was reimbursed which is one reason why the recorded deeds do not reflect the open space restrictions.

 

The documents can be found here:

DNR Troy Park PIA Response

BPW Troy Park PIA Response

Is It Time Yet to Talk About Sandy Hook?

So after the latest school shooting in Parkland, Florida, the Republicans and the NRA will probably once again say it is too soon to talk about gun safety measures. OK, for the sake of argument, it is too soon. The victims have to be mourned. The community has to grieve. But now after more than five years since the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, is it time yet that we can talk about what to do about that incident?

Change.org Petition: Protect taxpayer dollars. Charge developers market-based school surcharge fees.

 

Howard County has been undergoing unmitigated growth for many years. This unmitigated growth has resulted in school overcrowding.

This overcrowding has occurred to the extent that some schools are close to 140% over-capacity.

For 30 years, the school system has dealt with overcrowding by adding portable trailers for classrooms. Currently, there are 224 portable classrooms.

The County manages growth through the adequate public facilities ordinance (APFO). The school overcrowding occurred because the school-capacity standards do not prevent overcrowding.

The County Council has introduced legislation that will help the County manage growth better by making the capacity standards stronger.

While the school capacity standards are weak, the County also charges very low school-surcharge fees that help defray the cost of new school construction.

The new Hanover Hills Elementary School cost $57,000 PER STUDENT to build.

According to the County’s own reports, developers pay an average value of $5,138 PER UNIT to build a new home.

The fees are not market-based. Neighboring counties charge five to six-times the fees charged by Howard County with stronger school capacity standards.

In order for the County to raise these fees, it needs to obtain State-enabling legislation to pass in Annapolis.

This bill is introduced by the Howard County State Delegation. The bill as introduced does not allow the County to charge market-based surcharge fees. It also allows overcrowding in schools provided developers pay a fee.

This is wrong.

Let your State Delegation know that you want the County to stop subsidizing developer profits. Further, this bill introduced by the Howard County State Delegation needs to be changed to enable the county to charge developers market rates so every additional child has a permanent seat rather than allow overcrowding for a fee.

Pass the State-enabling bill that will allow the County to charge market-based rates and prevent overcrowding.

A Legislative Proposal Authorizing Local School Boards to Remove the Superintendent

The debate over Superintendent Foose’s contract often involved a discussion of Maryland law which gives a local school board the authority to hire a superintendent while only giving the State Superintendent the authority to remove the local superintendent. Attempts in the 2017 Maryland General Assembly to pass a bill giving the authority to terminate the superintendent to either just the Howard County Board or to local boards statewide were not successful.  One problem with these bills were that they would have retroactively changed the terms of existing the contracts of superintendents which were predicated on the power to remove residing with the State Superintendent.
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The employment contracts tend to reference and incorporate provisions of the state Education Article. With that in mind, I crafted legislation which would apply to future contracts by giving a local school board and the prospective superintendent the ability to agree that the local board would have the authority to remove.
Article – Education §4–201.  
(e)    (1)   The State Superintendent may remove a county superintendent for:
(i)   Immorality;
(ii)   Misconduct in office;
(iii)   Insubordination;
(iv)   Incompetency; or
(v)   Willful neglect of duty.
(2)   Before removing a county superintendent, the State Superintendent shall send the county superintendent a copy of the charges against the county superintendent and give the county superintendent an opportunity within 10 days to request a hearing.
(3)   If the county superintendent requests a hearing within the 10–day period:
(i)   The State Superintendent promptly shall hold a hearing, but a hearing may not be set within 10 days after the State Superintendent sends the county superintendent a notice of the hearing; and
(ii)   The county superintendent shall have an opportunity to be heard publicly before the State Superintendent in the county superintendent’s own defense, in person or by counsel.
(f)   On notification of pending criminal charges against a county superintendent as provided under § 4–206 of this subtitle, the county board may suspend the county superintendent with pay until the final disposition of the criminal charges OR MAY  REMOVE THE COUNTY SUPERINTENDENT AS PROVIDED IN SUBSECTION (G).
 (G) (1) IF THE CONTRACT BETWEEN THE COUNTY SUPERINTENDENT AND COUNTY BOARD EXPLICITLY PROVIDES FOR REMOVAL BY THE COUNTY BOARD, THE COUNTY BOARD MAY REMOVE A COUNTY SUPERINTENDENT BY A VOTE OF TWO-THIRDS OF THE TOTAL MEMBERS AUTHORIZED BY LAW TO VOTE FOR THE APPOINTMENT OF A COUNTY SUPERINTENDENT FOR:
(I)  IMMORALITY;
(II)  MISCONDUCT IN OFFICE;
(III)  INSUBORDINATION;
(IV)  INCOMPETENCY; 
(V)  WILLFUL NEGLECT OF DUTY;
(VI) MATERIAL BREACH OF THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF THE CONTRACT; 
(VII) PENDING CRIMINAL CHARGES; OR
(VIII) PERMANENT DISABILITY OF THE COUNTY SUPERINTENDENT WHICH RESULTS IN THEIR INABILITY TO SUBSTANTIALLY PERFORM THE ESSENTIAL FUNCTIONS OF HIS POSITION WITH OR WITHOUT REASONABLE ACCOMMODATIONS BECAUSE OF ILLNESS OR INCAPACITY FOR A CONTINUOUS PERIOD LASTING LONGER THAN TWO CONSECUTIVE MONTHS; 
(2)   BEFORE REMOVING A COUNTY SUPERINTENDENT, THE COUNTY BOARD SHALL SEND THE COUNTY SUPERINTENDENT A COPY OF THE ALLEGATIONS AGAINST THE COUNTY SUPERINTENDENT AND GIVE THE COUNTY SUPERINTENDENT AN OPPORTUNITY WITHIN 5 BUSINESS DAYS TO REQUEST A HEARING.
(3)   IF THE COUNTY SUPERINTENDENT REQUESTS A HEARING WITHIN THE 5 BUSINESS DAY PERIOD:
(I)   THE COUNTY BOARD PROMPTLY SHALL HOLD A HEARING, BUT A HEARING MAY NOT BE SET WITHIN 5 BUSINESS DAYS AFTER THE COUNTY BOARD SENDS THE COUNTY SUPERINTENDENT A NOTICE OF THE HEARING; AND
(II)   THE COUNTY SUPERINTENDENT SHALL HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY TO BE HEARD PUBLICLY BEFORE THE COUNTY BOARD IN THE COUNTY SUPERINTENDENT’S OWN DEFENSE, IN PERSON OR BY COUNSEL