The Howard County Board of Education has expanded its committee system to enable members to get a better grasp of a larger range of issues associated with the public school system.
For the coming year, the seven board members with full-voting rights will serve on three committees: audit, legislative and policy.
Chairman Frank Aquino and members Janet Siddiqui, Sandra H. French and Patricia Gordon will serve on the legislative committee. French, Gordon and Vice Chairman Ellen Flynn Giles will serve on the policy committee. Giles also will serve on the audit committee with members Larry Cohen and Diane Mikulis.
The previous board established the committee system last year before the board expanded from five to seven members.
That board initially set up an audit committee to allow the new board to gauge the board's effectiveness. The new board also surveyed otherschool boards that use the committee system. As a result, the new board chose a three-committee system, Giles said.
"I think we've found that it works," she said. "It allows you to review things and bring it back to the board as a whole. It is not intended to supplant the role of the board. It is to act as a bridge."
A positive meeting
The heads of the teachers union and the administrators association met Thursday to discuss a number of concerns, including the annual teacher job satisfaction survey and how administrators can improve working conditions.
Ann DeLacy, president of the Howard County Education Association, said the meeting with Kathy McKinley, principal at Mount View Middle and the president of the Howard County Administrators Association, was positive.
"The job satisfaction surveys in many schools have improved," DeLacy said. "We are working really hard to make sure that morale improves overall."
Vacation called and several high-ranking school system officials answered, which left a noticeable void at the school board meeting.
Superintendent Sydney L. Cousin was on a cruise. Board Chairman Frank Aquino was in Italy. Board member Diane Mikulis was in Ireland. Student board member Adejire Bademosi also was on vacation.
Giles, who headed the meeting in Aquino's absence, was not bothered by the number of absences.
"We have quorum," she said with a laugh.
The school board approved a $7.1 million renovation project at Elkridge Elementary School on Thursday that will include adding seven classrooms, which equates to 150 seats, an addition to the cafeteria and an additional music room.
The project, which is expected to begin in the fall, is to be completed in August 2009, said Ken Roey, executive director of facilities and management for the school system.
Four other schools are undergoing comprehensive renovations, as well. Waterloo and Clemens Crossing elementaries will have the first phase of renovation completed this summer. During the first phase, half of the school is being renovated.
The second phase, which will be completed at Worthington Elementary and Clarksville Middle, addresses the other half. Each phase takes nine weeks, Roey said.