Harford school board wants more time to review legislative platform

With the Maryland General Assembly meeting in a little over a month, the Harford County Board of Education will wait a bit longer before voting on its own 2013 legislative platform.

During the most recent school board meeting Nov. 19, Kathy Carmello, facilitator of governmental relations for Harford County Public Schools, presented the board with the platform, which states the board's position on various issues that may come up during the legislative session.

The General Assembly session begins Jan. 9, 2013, at noon.

"The legislative platform for 2013 covers a number of positions that will likely be brought up during this legislative session with a focus on local board authority, curriculum, public school construction, retirement and pensions, school and student safety and transportation, to name a few," Carmello told the board. "We are committed to work diligently with our elected officials to ensure the continued delivery of excellent education opportunities for all of our students, urge the avoidance of unfunded mandates, as well as ineffective efforts to modify curriculum and instruction, which is best left to local boards of education."

While there are signs of improvement, the country and state's economy will be a challenge yet again during the legislative session.

"It is widely anticipated that a significant portion of the 2013 session will again involve the critical need to address another challenging budgetary year," Carmello said. "Initial estimates indicated that the General Assembly will need to address a $638 million structural deficit for fiscal [year] 2014."

In addition, there's also the possibility of the fiscal cliff and its effect on the state budget.

"Also, putting pressure on the state's budget is the fiscal cliff, which will be reached if Congress and the president can't strike a deal by Jan. 1, 2013 to avert a series of budget cuts in place by lawmakers and the Obama administration last year to resolve a standoff over the nation's debt ceiling that threatened to put the nation into default," Carmello said. "It is projected that Maryland would lose $117.6 million in federal funds if sequestration takes effect, according to the Maryland Department of Legislative Services."

Board member Bob Frisch asked if there would be any "significant detriment" if the board did not vote on the platform that evening.

If the board didn't move on the platform, Carmello responded, then she would need to come before the board with "hundreds of bills" that stem from the legislative session to get opinion on whether to support it.

Board president Rick Grambo asked how much input board members or the public gave in creating the platform.

"They didn't," Carmello said. The platform, she explained, is created based on knowledge of what is done during the legislative session every year and what is expected this coming year.

She then delivers the platform to each Harford County delegate and state senator and then shares what the board's position is on various topics.

"I make sure they know what's going on so when they go to the floor they know how to vote," Carmello said.

"I didn't find anything controversial about the platform," member Thomas Fitzpatrick said, "but we would like a little bit more input and little bit more coaching about what's going on."

Carmello commented that the platform can be amended at any time and if there's a question on a particular bill she can bring that before the board.

Ultimately, the board voted to postpone a vote on the platform to a later date. The board's next meeting will be Monday.


The school board gave several recognitions during its Nov. 19 meeting.

Health educator Richard Wilhelm, of Ring Factory Elementary School, was recognized as the recipient of the 2012-2013 Maryland Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance Emerging Leader award.

Wilhelm was awarded for "developing curriculum, demonstrating content master and presenting at the local and state levels," the school system's manager of communications Teri Kranefeld said.

The winners of the 2012-2013 Simon McNeely award were also recognized.

Jessica Harcarik, of Magnolia Middle School, Jeffrey Gilbert, of Red Pump Elementary School, and Mark Zvitkovitz, of Fallston Middle School, were awarded for demonstrating outstanding work in health and physical education.

Harcarik was honored as the MAHPERD Emerging Leader in 2010 and teaches a comprehensive health education program at Magnolia Middle.

Gilbert, Kranefeld said, was honored "for cooperatively developing a walking/bicycling incentive program for Red Pump Elementary School."

Zvitkovitz, who has taught physical education at Edgewood and Fallston middle schools for the past 23 years, Kranefeld said, "has served as intramural director and taken part in many school-wide fundraisers, such as Hoops for Heart, sixth grade Fun Nights, parent/teacher volleyball games and wheel chair basketball."

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