LEGISLATION REGARDING HOWARD COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS
During the 2016 legislative session, the Maryland General Assembly passed House Bill 1105 (“H.B. 1105”). This bill tasked the Maryland Office of the Public Access Ombudsman to investigate and issue a public report by January 1, 2017 concerning the Howard County Public School System pertaining to the handling of public records and Public Information Act requests during the period from July 1, 2012 through December 31, 2015.
The Ombudsman's final report was issued on December 30, 2016. For more information about the PIA and the Ombudsman, visit http://www.marylandattorneygeneral.gov/Pages/OpenGov/pia.aspx.
Recent Council Legislation
On November 7, 2016, Council Chairman Calvin Ball and Councilwoman Jen Terrasa introduced CR 179-2016, calling on the Maryland State Department of Education to contract for a performance audit of the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS). The Councilmembers believe that an assessment of the practices of the Howard County Public School System is needed to determine whether the School System is operating economically and efficiently and to determine whether corrective actions for improving its performance are appropriate.
The performance audit would study the following issues:
- legal fees and use of outside legal counsel;
- the procurement process; and
- special education staffing and services, including out of school placement.
On December 5, 2016, the Council passed CR 179-2016.
Human Rights Commission Study
On November 7, 2016, Council Chairman Calvin Ball introduced CR 180-2016, calling on the Human Rights Commission to study the recruitment, hiring, retention, and promotion practices of certain units of the Howard County government, the Howard County Sheriff, and the Howard County Public School System, submit a report and make recommendations; and generally relating to discriminatory practices in Howard County. On December 5, 2016, the Council passed CR 180-2016.
Mold in Howard County Public Schools
On April 4, 2016, the County Council passed a resolution (CR 31-2016) requesting that the Howard County Environmental Sustainability Board review the various reports commissioned by Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) pertaining to mold at Howard County Public Schools and provide a report to the County Council and County Executive making recommendations on addressing environmental concerns, specifically on mold at Howard County Public Schools.
On October 5, 2016, the County Council passed an additional resolution (CR 110-2016) requesting that the Environmental Sustainability Board expand the scope of its review of studies regarding mold in Howard County Public Schools to include review of the various reports conducted by Skelly and Loy, Inc. on behalf of the Howard County Department of Public Works.
For more information, click here.
School System Budget Review Committee
The School System Budget Review Committee was created on July 8, 2016, when the Howard County Council adopted CR88-2016. All meetings of this Committee are open to the public.
The Committee will assist the County Council in understanding the current and any proposed operating and capital budgets of the Howard County Public School System. Members of the Committee will analyze the operating and capital budgets for at least fiscal years 2014 through 2017, review each audit of the Howard County Public School System for at least fiscal years 2014 through 2016, review amendments to the operating and capital budgets while they are before the County Council, review any proposed transfers between major categories of the operating budget, review deferred capital maintenance funding and its potential impact on future budgets, review any projects or activities that were not fully funded, review preliminary plans for new school sites, and provide recommendations for any improvements to the fiscal year 2018 budget.
For more information, click here.
In addition to establishing the School System Budget Review Committee, CR 88-2016 also requested the County Auditor’s Office to conduct a financial audit of the Howard County Public School System including special education programs, legal services, and the health and dental fund.
On October 5, 2016, the Council passed CB 64-2016, authorizing the Howard County Office of Law to take legal action against the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) for its lack of cooperation with the County Auditor’s financial audit.