BoardNotes: July 2020

Highlights from the Caroline Board of Education Meeting

Note: The July Board of Education Meeting was held on June 30, 2020


At the start of the meeting, Superintendent Patty Saelens shared that this was Vivian Fisher's last day before her retirement. Ms. Fisher has been the executive assistant to the superintendent and the Board of Education for many years, and has been with the school system since 1975. Dr. Saelens and board members thanked Ms. Fisher for her many years of dedicated service and stated how very much she would be missed.

Dr. Saelens also introduced the new executive assistant, Rachel Barry, who would taking Ms. Fisher's place. Ms. Barry was attending the meeting virtually, and said that she was happy and excited to begin in the position the following day.

Board Member Swearing In

Terry Lord, Caroline County Clerk of the Court, was on hand to swear in board member George Abner, who was recently re-appointed to another term on the Board of Education.

Mr. Abner began board service when he was appointed to a four-year term in 2009. He was subsequently reappointed for a six-year term in 2012, and has been eligible for re-appointment since 2018.


Personnel with Addendum

Supervisor of Human Resources Debbie Siachos presented personnel items to the board for their approval. Ms. Siachos also shared that in this hiring season, 20 offers have been made to date, with 15 contracts returned. Of the 20 positions offered, 15 have "local ties" to Caroline County, meaning they are either graduates or have established themselves in the proximity of Caroline County. Eight hires are graduates of North Caroline High School, and one is a gradaute of Colonel Richardson High School.

In addition, two recent hires are Fulbright Scholars with experiences in India and Korea, so they will be bringing unique experience to Caroline.

The Board unanimously passed the consent agenda.


Special Education Staffing Plan

The Board approved the annual Special Education Staffing Plan, which is required in order for Caroline County Public Schools to access state and federal funds for special education. The plan consists of the procedures used throughout the year to determine appropriate funding and staffing needs to fulfill the educational needs of students with disabilities.

Legal Services Association Director and Alternate Director

The Maryland Association of Boards of Education (MABE) holds regular meetings of the Legal Service Association (LSA) to discuss matters of common interest to school systems throughout Maryland. Each school system is encouraged to have a representative, approved by their board of education, attend these meetings. The Board approved Milton Nagel, director, and Derek Simmons, alternate director.

Revised MOU Between Board of Education & Administrators and Supervisors Association

Mr. Nagel presented the Board with a revised Memorandum of Understanding for the Administrators & Supervisors Association. He explained changes in the salary scale that will enable administrator salaries to keep pace with teacher salaries, given the fact that Kirwan funding will result in significant enhancements to teacher salaries. Mr. Nagel also explained the new attendance incentive that mirrors the one recently approved in the Caroline County Education Association Negotiated Agreement.

Mr. Nagel praised newly-retired Supervisor of Instruction Debbie George for putting in the time and effort to reach a plan all members could support, and to Rob Willoughby for his leadership in years past.

The Board approved the revised MOU.

Amended 2012-2021 Negotiated Agreement with the Caroline County Education Support Personnel Association

Mr. Nagel presented the Board with a addendum to the current contract with the Caroline County Education Support Personnel Association. He explained changes included:

  • The new attendance incentive mirrors the one recently approved in the Caroline County Education Association Negotiated Agreement.
  • Existing language associated with inclement weather delays and closings was made more flexible, requiring support services report on time only if necessary.

In addition, the existing salary proposal was extended for four years.

The Board approved the amended agreement.

2021 Budget Request

The Board approved the FY2021 Budget. Mr. Nagel highlighted:

  • The County Commissioners notified the Board that their FY2021 unrestricted appropriation for the Board of Education will be $13,829,864 maintenance of effort funding, which represents an increase of $355,744 over the FY2020 appropriation.
  • In addition, the County Commissioners will continue to fund the local share of the teacher’s pension shift, $1,346,097 and the supplemental appropriation of $400,000 to fund additional school resource officers at all elementary schools.
  • Unrestricted and restricted state revenues for FY2021 will be $63,981,055 which represents an increase of $1,767,657. Restricted federal revenues for FY2021 will be $7,524,944, an increase of $1,905,133. The overall increase to the operating budget for FY 2021 is $4,148,534.

Mr. Nagel also shared that salary is the biggest line item in the budget, and that health insurance continues to be the largest line item increase, projected to be 7% over last year.

FY2021 Budget Summary

FY2021 Budget

Financing for School Bus Purchase

The Board voted to enter into a lease purchase finance agreement with U.S. Bancorp Government Leasing and Finance, Inc., Assignee/Designee of BankFunding, LLC, at the rate of 1.65% for an amount not to exceed $395,000.

The funds are for the purchase of four new school buses to replace existing buses that must be taken out of service in accordance with State transportation laws. Financing for the purchase of these vehicles will be accomplished through this lease purchase agreement. Funds for the estimated bi-annual payments of $51,225.62 are included in the FY21 operating budget, and the bid process and procedures complied with Board policy and applicable state laws and regulations.

Mr. Nagel shared that buses were ordered in March because they must be built specifically as required by Maryland law. The Board discussed lobbying during the next Maryland General Assembly session to change that, along with the law that mandates retiring a bus after 15 years, no matter the condition of the bus. Dr. Saelens shared that to date, no special session of the General Assembly has been scheduled but these issues will be brought to the attention of the Shore delegation for the 2021 General Assembly Session.

Memorandum of Understanding: School Resources Officers

The Board approved a Memorandum of Understanding with the Caroline County Commissioners for the funding of school resource officers (SRO), and approved the Memorandum of Understanding with the Caroline County Sheriff’s Office for implementation of the school resource officer program at all Caroline County Public School Campuses.

Mr Nagel noted that the Board has been working collaboratively over the past several years with the Caroline County Commissioners and the Caroline County Sheriff’s Office on the SRO program. This past fiscal year, the program was expanded to provide SROs at all school campuses. The Sheriff’s Office has taken the lead to update the agreements to adequately address the recent expansion and to reflect the current processes and procedures that have been implemented since the documents were last approved in 2014.

The Board asked about the SRO duties since school building have been closed. Mr. Nagel stated that Sheriff Bounds appreciated being able to assign the eight additional deputies as back up during the pandemic.

Contract for Purchase of Fresh Locally Sourced Produce

The Board awarded a contract to PJK Food Service LLC, d/b/a Keany Produce and Gourmet, based on bids as submitted.

CCPS solicited competitive sealed bids for the purchase of fresh produce on behalf of the Caroline County and Wicomico County Public School Systems. The contract is for all labor, supervision, materials, and equipment necessary to provide fresh locally sourced produce for the Caroline County and Wicomico County Public School districts. The term of the contract is July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021, and contains four one-year renewal options. Renewal is at the sole option of CCPS. The bid process and procedures complied with Board policy and applicable state laws and regulations.

The totals on the bid tabulation sheet are representative of the entire estimated quantities bid. The total estimated amount for CCPS is $90,000. The funds associated with this project are provided for through Food Services - Combination of Federal, State and local funds.

Mr. Nagel shared that Wicomico County Public Schools normally produced this RFP. However, now that CCPS have a purchasing agent, Susan Phillips, on staff, we were able to take the lead.


Board Member Reports

Mr. Abner shared that it was an honor and privilege to serve on the Board since 2009; however, because of changes in his personal life, his last meeting would be in November of this year. He has written to Governor Hogan to submit his resignation and to recommend someone else willing to serve out his term. No response has yet been received.

Ms. Dill stated that she has also contacted Governor Hogan's office to request appointment to a second term on the Board.

Mr. Newcomb reflected that his elected term is up in 2022. He stated the Board had a spirited discussion about equity at the last Board meeting, and he hoped to have a fruitful discussion with new board members who will be elected in November.

Mr. Rowe shared that he had been participating in the Recovery Plan Stakeholder Meetings, and that staff was dealing with many moving parts, with everyone staying in their own lane as needed. He stated that he felt the best and brightest were working on the plan.

Superintendent's Report

Dr. Saelens shared the Preliminary Recovery Plan for the 2020-2021 School Year with the Board. In response to board member questions, Dr. Saelens shared:

  • Transportation Supervisor Carmen Milligan reports that bus drivers are hopeful about the fall and are ready to return. The substitute pool is problematic, which is just one of the many factors that makes it difficult to add buses to the fleet.
  • Staff has been researching Google Meet as a viable platform for the fall. Google has made improvements that enable the same security features that Zoom had in the spring.
  • Assigned work will be graded.
  • Regarding the virtual learning option provided through an agreement with the Eastern Shore school systems and MSDE, vendors are now being interviewed. CCPS students would be in virtual classrooms with students from other districts. Queen Anne's and Kent school systems piloted this program last fall with good results.
  • Because the contracted virtual learning program is through an outside vendor, students may not transfer back and forth between that program and the CCPS program.
  • A survey will be going out to staff on July 6 to inform plans for the fall.
  • Families should make every effort to keep their email and phone information through the school as communication will be critical this year.

Dr. Saelens also shared the "Feeding Caroline Through COVID-19," a video made by Rob Simmons which showcases the work done by Food Services and volunteers and businesses throughout Caroline since March. Dr. Saelens and Mr. Nagel noted that Supervisor of Food Services Beth Brewster had shown remarkable leadership in having staff that was willing to quarantine, and basically placing kitchens on lockdown. While many other school systems had to shut down sites because of workers testing positive for COVID-19, to date all CCPS sites have remained open.

Instruction & Administration Snapshot

Highlights from the month of June from all areas of the school system were shared in the Instruction & Administration Snapshot.


Information Item: CCTC Hallway Extension

The Board was updated on a bid for the hallway extension project at Caroline Career & Technology Center (CCTC). The total cost of award for all contracts is $34,130.00. Funds are available through an Aging Schools Grant.

English Language (EL) Staffing Plan SY21

The Board decided to defer this presentation until the upcoming Board Retreat in August.


Because the board meeting was virtual, citizens were invited to submit public comment via email. No submissions were received.