HCPS 411 Update

January 14, 2021

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Thank You, HCPS Nurses!

We are very proud of the work HCPS nurses have done throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. From supporting colleagues in local hospitals participating in COVID-19 testing and assisted living facilities, to ensuring families have access to prescriptions left in the schools, HCPS nurses have been on the frontlines. Currently, HCPS nurses are supporting our partners at the Harford County Health Department (HCHD) in phase 1A of the Maryland state vaccination plan. As frontline workers, HCPS nurses have received the COVID-19 vaccination and are now part of the dedicated team administering the vaccine to others throughout the county. Included are photos of HCPS nurses hard at work at the county clinic being held at Patterson Mill Middle/High School. We look forward to providing more information to HCPS staff, who all qualify to participate in vaccination clinics during phase 1B of the Maryland state vaccination plan, as soon as it is available! Make sure you’re following the HCHD social media pages for more vaccination information.

CareFirst Covers COVID-19 Testing

While our entire nation works to address the COVID-19 health crisis, there is no immediate resolution in sight. Therefore, CareFirst will continue to minimize potential barriers to care for members by extending COVID-19-related benefit enhancements for the foreseeable future. Those who are enrolled in a medical plan through Harford County Public Schools can receive this test at no cost, whether the need is due to exposure or due to an onset of symptoms.

Be sure to present your medical ID card at the time of service to have your test paid for 100% by your HCPS medical insurance plan.

Cameras On

The Fab Five and QuaranTeam, our 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 Teacher of the Year Finalists Groups, partnered to create a video encouraging students to turn their cameras on during class in order to enhance their own engagement and allow teachers to better understand their needs. These ten teachers, along with many others in HCPS, have expressed how helpful it would be to see their students, read their body language, observe their facial expressions, note any distractions, and scan for understanding. While turning on the camera is not an option for every student, ‘Cameras On’ is one possible strategy for engaging students while also building relationships and determining student learning.

Teachers may watch the Cameras On video and access ideas for using this video as a teaching tool with students.

‘Cameras On’ is one strategy for engaging students. Other strategies such as using sound to engage students, using small virtual groups to facilitate collaboration, and facilitating activators for lesson engagement can also enhance connections among students and overall student engagement with the material. Select the hyperlinks to view 2-3 minute videos on each of these simple yet powerful ideas.

And look for an entire Digital Teaching and Learning Newsletter dedicated to the Highly Engaged Classroom coming soon!

Cameras On / Success on!

2020 W-2 Forms Information

W-2 forms will be mailed via USPS to your current mailing address in Lawson on or before January 31, 2021, for calendar year 2020 wages.

Annually, the Finance Office provides an explanatory memo assisting employees to reconcile their final pay stubs for the year to the W-2 form and to answer frequently asked questions over the years. Please click here to view the memo online or to print a hard copy of the memo if desired. Please print and share the memo with non-networked colleagues at your location.

W-2 forms will also be posted on Employee Self Service (ESS) on or before January 31, 2021. For detailed instructions on using ESS, please click here.

Any questions should be directed to Jay Staab, Director of Finance, at jay.staab@hcps.org or at ext. 5237.

Voluntary Transfer Requests

HCEA-represented employees and inclusion helpers (HCEA-ESP represented employees) who wish to be considered for a voluntary transfer must submit their request online prior to the deadline date stated in the applicable negotiated agreement. The Voluntary Transfer Request site may be accessed on the following SharePoint link: Staff Management Department. Each subject and/or position requested must be submitted separately. It is important to note that the Voluntary Transfer Request site is only accessible from a HCPS device connected to the HCPS network. Please note that only online requests completed on the voluntary transfer request site will be accepted.

Transfer requests are accepted on a year-round basis. Although transfers are accepted on a year-round basis, decisions will be based on the existing vacancy/transfer timeline. To review the 2020-2021 SY Employment Timeline, please click on the following SharePoint link: Staff Management Department.

All Other HCEA-ESP Represented Employees:

For all other HCEA-ESP represented positions, applications, including transfers, must be done through the online application process. All positions within the unit, which offer promotional and transfer opportunities, will be posted for at least one week prior to the close of the application deadline. You must apply online for consideration.

Questions regarding this information should be directed to: Joanna Karolenko, in Human Resources, at Joanna.Karolenko@hcps.org x5238.

GET More Program

Are you interested in becoming a teacher? The Growing Exceptional Teachers More (GET More) Program is a program that provides tuition reimbursement equivalent of the negotiated tuition reimbursement rate for instructional staff (currently $300 per graduate credit hour) for employees who are represented by HCEA-ESP (formerly HCESC) or AFSCME. The purpose of this tuition reimbursement assistance is to allow program participants to complete a teacher certification program in a high needs area of teacher education, with the ultimate goal of receiving their teacher certification and returning to work as a teacher in HCPS. This program is open to employees who have been employed with HCPS for 1 or more years of service with HCPS. More information is available by clicking the provided link: GET More Application.

Questions on how to apply for this program should be directed to Benjamin Richardson at Benjamin.Richardson2@hcps.org.

Curriculum in itslearning

Weeks 21-30 will be applied to Plans in itslearning teacher courses between January 15-19. Dates will not be added to the weekly plans.

Academic Tutoring

The Academic Tutoring program will continue to provide students with academic and instructional supports throughout third quarter. The Academic Tutoring Coordinators, Catherine Jones and Kelly Mattingly, are working with the Office of Accountability to target our students most in need, using an equity lens. Students will receive tutoring services in a virtual, small group setting with HCPS teachers and paraeducators. If you are interested in employment as a tutor, please email academic.tutoring@hcps.org to register for orientation. Teachers will be compensated for tutoring at the 75% rate for time worked outside of the duty day. Paraeducators will be compensated at their hourly rate. With questions or concerns, please contact Academic.Tutoring@hcps.org.

United Way: Providing What's Needed, Where It's Needed

Why should you support United Way? They are providing what’s needed, where it’s needed, tackling the toughest challenges, promoting equity, and connecting people—like you—to the causes you care about most.

United Way works with families to keep them in their homes and out of shelters, they work to make sure children have everything they need for academic success, and they work with people who need healthy food, and jobs to pay the bills. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the challenges those struggling to make ends meet face every day, and United Way has continued to support both the immediate and long-term needs of this community and its people.

Your gift to United Way can make a difference in the life of a child, a veteran, a struggling family, or even someone you may know. Your support will help people in our region recover and rebuild their lives.

You can learn more about the United Way of Central Maryland at www.uwcm.org. Please contact Christina Paquette in the Office of Communications and Family Outreach (Christina.Paquette@hcps.org or 410-588-5214) with any questions. Thank you, again, for joining together as a Harford County Public Schools family for this initiative to help our county.

Tuition Reimbursement Submission Process Update

Reminder: Tuition reimbursement requests, to include (1) the Partial Reimbursement Request form that pertains to your union, (2) an official transcript, and (3) an itemized receipt showing payment method(s) and amount(s), must be submitted within 90 days of the course completion date.

Note: HCPS is aware that some colleges and universities are not able to mail official hard copy transcripts due to the pandemic.

  • If you can and prefer to obtain a hard copy official transcript:
    - Please email the scanned transcript (to include an image of the opened envelope for the transcript) along with the request form and the itemized receipt showing payment/payment method to Lisa Patterson (Lisa.Patterson@hcps.org) and Christine Lambert (Christine.Lambert@hcps.org), OR
    - Submit all documents via regular USPS mail (or a school courier, if available) to the attention of Lisa Patterson in Human Resources-Benefits at the A.A. Roberty Building. Hard copy requests will be gathered every one or two weeks for processing.

  • If you are unable to get a hard copy official transcript:
    - Please request that an official electronic transcript be emailed to Christine Lambert (Christine.Lambert@hcps.org) in Certification.
    - Additionally, please email Lisa Patterson (1) the request form and (2) the itemized receipt showing payment/payment method and copy Ms. Lambert on the email so she is aware that reimbursement is pending.

Please allow a minimum of 2-4 weeks for processing. Employees will receive an email when the request is processed indicating the pay check date in which they should expect the reimbursement. The reimbursement is not taxed.

For employees taking coursework through a direct bill partner, coursework will be billed directly to HCPS. Therefore, no paperwork is needed from the employee for the reimbursement as the partnering university/college will provide the required official transcript/grade report.

Courses completed prior to 7/1/21, will count towards the 7/1/20-6/30/21 fiscal year; courses completed on 7/1/21 or later will count towards the 7/1/21-6/30/22 fiscal year.

Questions should be directed to Lisa Patterson at Lisa.Patterson@hcps.org.

Growing Exceptional Teachers (GET) Program

The Growing Exceptional Teachers (GET) Program is a scholarship and recruitment program that provides financial assistance in the form of a student scholarship and hiring incentives to Harford County Public Schools (HCPS) high school graduating seniors selected to participate in the program. The purpose of providing this financial assistance is to allow program participants to complete their undergraduate degree in a high needs area of teacher education, with the ultimate goal of receiving their teacher certification and returning to work as a public school teacher right here in Harford County.

Available Scholarships:

Five (5) $6,000 scholarships will be awarded to HCPS high school graduating seniors planning to attend college and attain their teacher certification in one of the following teacher “critical shortage areas” identified by the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) and HCPS to include:

  • English
  • Mathematics
  • Professional and Technical Education
  • Science
  • Special Education
  • Technology Education
  • World Language
  • School Psychology

The deadline to submit an application is Monday, April 5, 2021. Teachers/School Counselors are encouraged to promote this application to eligible seniors. To access the application, please visit the HCPS Website > Students > Scholarships or by clicking the following link: GET Scholarship Application. Questions regarding this information should be directed to Donna Dean at Donna.Dean2@hcps.org.

PARAPRO Assessment Opportunity – February 12, 2021

With principal approval, the ParaPro Assessment will be available to all HCPS employees seeking to meet the highly qualified requirements of paraeducator positions in Harford County, which permits an individual to work with students in the classrooms under the direction of the teacher.

The test measures skills and knowledge in reading, math, and writing, as well as the ability to apply those skills and knowledge to assist in classroom instruction. Test administration is scheduled for February 12, 2021. The test will be from 1:00 to 3:30 p.m. at C. Milton Wright High School located at 1301 North Fountain Green Road, Bel Air, MD 21015. Please sign-up and pay for the assessment on HECTOR.

Additional information related to the test, procedures for reimbursement, test prep/review and the MD passing score requirements are also available on the HR site: HERE.

Questions regarding this information should be directed to Pauline Timmons, in Special Education, at Pauline.Timmons@hcps.org or 410-588-5246.

Pre-Retirement Planning Webinar February 17, 2021

The Retirement Coordinators of Harford County Public Schools (HCPS) will host a free pre-retirement webinar for HCPS employees with assistance from the Maryland State Retirement Agency. This webinar is a condensed version of our fall pre-retirement informational session and will occur at 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday, February 17, 2021.

Please complete the registration form to register, which can be accessed by clicking here. The deadline to register is Friday, February 12, 2021.

This webinar will provide vital information to all members approaching retirement, whether it is normal service or early retirement. Discussion topics include:

  • Planning for Retirement
  • State Retirement Pension Benefits
  • HCPS Retiree Healthcare

If you are within two years of being eligible to retire, this seminar is for you! As this year’s event will be hosted virtually, your spouses and or pertinent beneficiaries may sit with you to listen. We will host a Q&A session following the presentations. If you attended this year’s event recently, you may still attend due to the virtual format.

Date: February 17, 2021

Time: 4:00 – 7:00 p.m.

Event Link: Will be emailed to those who complete and submit the registration form closer to the event date.

If you have any questions, please email benefits@hcps.org.

BurnAlong Virtual Fitness Platform

As of January 1, 2021, employees can sign up for a *free* account through BurnAlong, an online on-demand fitness platform. This program is being powered by Harford County Public Schools in partnership with CareFirst.

Harford County Public Schools, in partnership with CareFirst, is happy to provide employees with access to BurnAlong. What is BurnAlong? It is an online health, wellness, and fitness class platform to help you stay motivated and focus on your well-being. BurnAlong provides classes from 100s of instructors spanning 40+ categories.

Best Part? This service is available to all part-time and full-time employees at no cost, thanks to CareFirst. Also, each participant receives up to four (4) free accounts for family and friends so that you can work out at home separately but together.

To set up your account, go to fit.burnalong.com/hcps. If you experience any trouble registering your account, you may email customercare@burnalong.com for assistance.

Interested in learning more? BurnAlong and HCPS will host an informational webinar on Wednesday, January 20, at 4:30 p.m. To participate, use the following link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81545115187 or dial in to 301-715-8592, Meeting ID: 815 4511 5187, Passcode: 411165.

Learn more by clicking here for the member enrollment flier. Have questions? Check out this FAQ.

Golden Apple Program by Freedom Federal Credit Union

Freedom Federal Credit Union's Golden Apple Program recognizes the dedicated efforts of teachers, support staff, and all members of the education community in Harford and Baltimore counties. All active or retired teachers, administrators, and school support personnel in both the public and private sector are eligible to enroll in and take advantage of this unique program. To learn more about the exclusive offers and benefits, visit https://www.freedomfcu.org/golden-apple/.
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Shout Outs!

"Chrissy Douglas has to be the hardest working principal in all of Harford County!! She is always positive. Always uplifting. Does her best for kids and teachers and all staff everyday. She expects her staff to work hard for kids everyday. She serves as a great resource to the parents in the Hall's Cross Roads Community! In addition to being chief administrator of Halls Cross Roads Elementary and all that entails, she also oversees the Community School aspect of our school, which is like a second full-time position! She is always professional and has such high integrity! She definitely deserves a shout out!"

-Laura Snodgrass-Pohlenz, Music Teacher, Hall's Cross Roads Elementary School

"I would like to give a huge shout out to Elizabeth Siebold, special educator at Edgewood High School! Elizabeth is one of the hardest working educators I have had the pleasure to work with. She is incredibly dedicated to her students and families. Elizabeth’s caring nature helps her to build rapport with students and create lasting relationships. She is an excellent colleague to work with as well. Elizabeth makes my job easier just by being her hard-working self. We are very lucky to have her at EHS!"

-Amanda Seiverd, School Counselor, Edgewood High School

"A huge shout out to Principal Blaine Hawley and Assistant Principal Stacey McCord at Red Pump Elementary for their outstanding leadership! The motto at Red Pump is that the “sun always shines.” They live this daily by providing a climate of cheerfulness, positivity, encouragement, and continual support. They have adapted to the changes from hybrid teaching to virtual learning with outstanding organizational skills and great energy. Our theme this year is “growing together” and they have found ways for their grateful staff to celebrate each other as we survive the pandemic together! They shower their teachers and staff with appreciation, some examples: developing a garden bar of flowers for us to come together to create fall bouquets with inspirational messages, coordinating sending notes of encouragement to each other in the mail, recognizing all our birthdays with a card to our homes, and by celebrating us with drive by events full of fun, good cheer, and small holiday gifts!"

-RPES Dalmatians

Welcome to HCPS!

Please help us welcome the following new employees to our HCPS family:

  • Sheri Wardle, Administrative Support Specialist, Transportation Department
  • Sarah Regert, Inclusion Helper, Red Pump Elementary School

Office of Communications and Family Outreach

Editor: Lindsay Bilodeau, communications specialist

To submit an HCPS Shout Out or recognize a colleague in the Spotlight on Customer Service, please email the information and photo (if available) to HCPS.411@hcps.org.