Comments to the Board Jan 2023

January 10, 2023

Good evening, Chairwoman Mrs. Lichter, Vice-chair Mrs. Harvey, Superintendent Dr. Williams, and Members of the Board,

Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you on behalf of the members of CASE.

In its simplest terms your role as school board members is to ensure that the students of Baltimore County Public Schools are prepared to live, work, and compete in a global world. You do that in 3 important ways: You hire the superintendent; you provide governance for policies aligned to the vision and mission of the school system and community members; and you provide governance for the budget by approving the proposed budget and monitoring expenditures through the contract process.

I still believe the process for creating and approving the budget with you and the county executive and county council is convoluted, but that speech is for another night.

Tonight, you will hear the superintendent’s proposed budget. Not everything can be accomplished in one budget year. It’s important to have a clear, phased approach that allows you to react to new state and federal mandates and includes improving buildings and infrastructure, as well as the implementation of new curriculum.

The goal of the budget is to improve academic performance for all students. The goal of the budget is to remove predictable barriers that impact students because of their race, poverty level, ability to speak English, and participation in special education services. There are many priorities that compete for the budget. It will be important for you to understand short-term and long-term plans for implementing those priorities.

The budget priorities for CASE remain constant:

  1. Fair compensation and benefits, while maintaining work–life balance.
  2. Professional development based on research and evidence-based practices that improve leadership, instruction, and student behavior.
  3. Processes that are communicated, efficient, and transparent for managing human resources, payroll, and employee and retiree services.
  4. A plan for addressing the staffing crisis that includes recruitment, retention, and operating within available resources and innovating new ways of providing access.
  5. Prioritizing staffing for students receiving special education services and historically underserved and underperforming communities.

Thank you for the opportunity to speak on behalf of CASE.

Billy Burke, Executive Director

Membership Meeting, October 2022

Cocktail Reception

In October, all CASE members were invited to attend a cocktail reception. These general membership meetings happen twice a year. At this event, Executive Director, Billy Burke, spoke to the members. His presentation included information about the recent changes to the compensation package. Following the presentation, CASE members had the opportunity to ask questions, which Billy answered. This presentation was captured in the video below, taken on October 24, 2022.

3 Minutes Aug 10, 2021

Good evening, Mrs. Scott, Mrs. Henn, Dr. Williams, and members of the board. Thank you for the opportunity to speak before you tonight.

This week is week 5 for me as executive director of CASE, and I’d like to share with you the concerns my members have brought forward.

Every time I speak, you will hear me ask for a seat for CASE at the table as plans are being developed. The employees and the families are nearest the work and will need to implement the changes. When we are not included from the beginning, you miss the opportunity to create buy-in and to hear possible obstacles from the practitioners.

There should be a simple cycle for implementing changes.

  1. Staff and stakeholders should create options to be implemented.
  2. Options should be shared with staff and the public.
  3. Feedback should be collected and analyzed for practicality.
  4. Appropriate changes should be made to the options based on time and resources.
  5. And then the plan is announced.

Very often the plans are designed without our input, and we are asked to review moments before the plan is announced. Everyone is left without time to process and problem solve to ensure a strong implementation.

CASE administrators are concerned about hiring staff in time to open school. There were a great number of resignations and retirements this year. We recognize we have just completed two of the hardest years in educational history, but we need to become more strategic in our retention and recruitment efforts. CASE is encouraged that experienced senior staff has been assigned to work on recruitment and retention.

One of the most fulfilling parts of my job is to address member concerns. Most concerns center around unrealistic workloads. When staff contact me, I am inspired by the passion and work ethic they bring to their jobs. Consistently CASE members bring me problems, but they also bring me multiple solutions. Staff has been performing under great pressure for the last two years. Diamonds are formed under great pressure. CASE members are diamonds. We can’t afford to lose any additional priceless resources.

I believe unrealistic workloads is directly related to resignations and retirements. It is time to seriously plan to reduce inefficiencies. CASE will be forming a workgroup to examine what we need to keep doing, what we need to stop doing and what we need to begin doing, to make our jobs more manageable. We invite TABCO and BCPS staff to be part of the workgroup. We will bring recommendations to the board and to Dr. Williams.

Thank you for the opportunity to speak this evening.

Billy Burke, Executive Director

Tom DeHart’s Retirement Party

In July 2021, CASE members were invited to attend the retirement party for former Executive Director Tom DeHart, and celebrate new Executive Director Billy Burke.

MOU Regarding Vacation Time

between the Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS)
and the
Council of Administrative and Supervisory Employees (CASE)

Annual Maximum Accumulation and Use of Vacation Time

The Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS) and the Council of Administrative and Supervisory Employees (CASE) (hereinafter jointly referred to as “Parties”) hereby enter into this Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which addresses issues pertaining to the accumulation and use of compensatory and vacation time earned by CASE represented employees during FY21.

Whereas, the Parties acknowledge the unusual circumstances imposed on the school system and its employees by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the ransomware attack of November 24, 2020, and

Whereas, due to the ransomware attack and the resultant loss of operating systems and data to include leave balances, and

Whereas, Article 9.15 of the Agreement between the Parties establishes the annual cumulative maximum of vacation days for twelve-month employees at forty-five (45) days,

Now therefore, the CASE and BCPS agree to the following adjustments to the aforementioned Agreement article:

  • For FY 21 and FY 22, the cumulative vacation accrual cap for CASE represented employees will not be limited to a maximum of forty-five (45) days.
  • For FY 21, hours in excess of the accrual cap as of June 30, 2021 shall not be converted to rolled personal illness leave.
  • If a CASE represented employee separates from BCPS employment during the term of this MOU, vacation payout will remain capped at forty-five (45) days.
  • All accrued vacation days as of June 30, 2021 shall be available for use by CASE represented employees up through December 31, 2022.
  • Hours in excess of the accrual cap as of January 1, 2023 shall be converted to rolled personal illness leave.

All other stipulations of Article 9.15 shall remain in effect. This MOU will expire on December 31, 2022.

View the Signed MOU

3 Minutes May 4, 2021

Good evening, Chair Scott, Vice Chair Henn, Dr. Williams, and members of the Board:

At the last Board meeting at your request, System leadership shared a plan for the reopening of schools for in-person instruction on a four-day schedule. All preK–5 students would be eligible, as well as data-targeted secondary groups of students. The primary difference is the CDC metric which allows 3-foot social distancing at the elementary level and remains at 6 feet for secondary students.

School leadership teams led by their principals have been hard at work since the morning following that meeting, using pertinent data and physical attributes of their schools to determine needs, identify students, reach out to them, and work with transportation to prepare for their return on May 10th and 17th.

I had not planned on speaking tonight, but I have heard rumblings that some on the Board may want to change the plan at this, the 11th hour, and bring back any secondary student who wants to return across the System. I am sure that there are Board members whose constituents advocate for this, but let us review some facts.

  • The 6-foot social distancing requirement at the secondary level prevents every student from returning at this point, which is the foundation of any plan.
  • School leadership teams have used the data and the Board’s own Equity focus to identify specific, targeted groups of students that would benefit the most from face-to-face instruction and spent every bit of the last two weeks planning for their return.
  • Each school is different, and decisions must be made based on data and physical limitations. Our schools are not cookie cutter. So, numbers will vary from school to school.
  • Site-based leadership under the direction of System leaders have used data and an equity lens to drive the number of students identified to return. That is what the leadership in the buildings have been hired, trained, and paid to do.

Both System and school-based leadership have worked diligently to respond to requests for full return to face-to-face instruction. But in the simplest terms there are CDC limitations which preclude a total return of every student at the secondary level.

An arbitrary change to our reopening plan at this point would show a complete lack of respect and appreciation for the hard work these leadership teams have done over these last two weeks. Is that the message you want to send?

A motion from this Board to return any student who wants, no matter the metrics, is an example of the concern I shared with this Board at the last meeting where I reviewed the difference between the Board’s role of governance versus the hired professionals’ job of operations. So, I will be plain. Stay in your lane. Isn’t that what is asked of every employee?

And as an aside, I find it distressingly ironic that members of this Board would dictate full in-person return of all students, no matter the metrics, when there has not been a full in-person return of this Board.

Thank you.

Tom DeHart

Executive Director, CASE

3 Minutes April 20, 2021

Good evening, Chair Scott, Vice Chair Henn, Dr. Williams, and members of the Board:

Tonight, I would like to speak with you about Governance or Guidance versus Operations or Management, as it relates to the function of this Board. I will reference the Board of Education of Baltimore County Board Handbook, last revised in 2015.

I cite in pertinent part, sections, and components of the Board Handbook to highlight the concept of Governance versus Operations.


The BOARD OF EDUCATION OF BALTIMORE COUNTY guides the Baltimore County Public School System…

The Board’s Vision

The Board of Education, as the governing body for the County’s school system, will seek in every way to make the school system among the highest performing school systems in the nation…

The Board’s Mission

The Board, as the governing body of the school system, fulfills its mission by adopting policies …

The Board’s Norms of Behavior

Annually following its summer retreat, the Board will adopt norms of behavior and conduct. The Board’s most current norms are attached as Appendix A.

1. Practice Governance—The role of the Board is to govern through policy, budget adoption, approval of school boundaries, and hiring the superintendent.

This quote is from the Handbook:

“The Board’s responsibility is not to manage the school system or influence the daily operation of the school system. The Board will hold the superintendent accountable for the successful day-to-day management of the school system.”

I bring this up tonight because there continues to be instances where this Board has crossed the line from governance to operations. This causes a great deal of anxiety and frustration for administrators, teachers, and support personnel who are then required to pivot after preparations and plans have been designed and developed by the System. And over the last year, every single employee has been asked to pivot enough to last a lifetime.

You have asked the Superintendent to plan for the in-person return of students for 4 days per week. He and his team will share that plan with you tonight, including the schedule for that return.

CASE encourages you to do your due diligence in reviewing and questioning the plan, which is what you were elected or appointed to do. But please let the people who are charged with the day-to-day operations of the System do their jobs. That is what your Handbook, and common sense, prescribes.

Thank you,
Tom DeHart
Executive Director, CASE

From the Desk of Tom DeHart

Dear CASE Member,

It is time…

In June 2020 I signed a 2-year contract extension with the CASE Board of Directors to serve as the association’s Executive Director. I shared with the Board at that time that I would only commit to one year at a time but would inform the Board in a timely fashion should I choose not to serve the second year. In January, I informed the CASE Board of Directors that I would be leaving the Executive Director position at the end of June 2021.

I have served you good people for four years after a career as a teacher and administrator in BCPS, and another career as a Leadership Development Specialist at MSDE. The last year of the pandemic, cyberattack, and inconsistent system leadership has been tough on all of us, and I cringe at how that has impacted every one of our members. Quite simply, it is time for me to step away from the day-to-day requirements to do this job effectively.

While I won’t delineate the specific advances for our membership over the last four years, I take great personal and professional pride of the growth our association has made, and the increased respect of CASE from our members, as well as system stakeholders and leaders. Our membership has grown and maintained at our highest levels. The CASE Board will soon advertise for my replacement. If you know of anyone who you feel would be a good fit, please inform one of the Board members.

CASE is a very diverse group of professionals with many job descriptions and responsibilities. It is a difficult balancing act to ensure everyone feels represented. I will say that every member who ever reached out to me regarding Master Agreement concerns was represented to the best of my ability. I will continue to advocate for all members at every meeting, conference, or negotiation for the duration of my term. I thank each one of you for your support, comments, compliments, and concerns over the years. Every one of them helped me grow as a leader! As a principal, my goal was always to leave a school in better shape than when I inherited it. I believe that should be every leader’s goal in any position. I feel comfortable that I have done that with CASE.

Kathy has been very patient as she hears me rant and rave from my home office, and as our country begins to get back to a sense of normalcy, she and I want to travel and explore. It is time…

Until our paths cross again,


Tom DeHart
Executive Director, CASE

3 Minutes March 25, 2021

Good evening, Chair Scott, Vice Chair Henn, Dr. Williams, and members of the Board:

It has been a year since I have spoken to the Board. And while I have sent letters, it is a pleasure to be able to speak to you live.

While I haven’t spoken to you in a year, I HAVE been watching. So have teachers, school leaders, community members, various stakeholders, and most importantly—our students.

Like the rest of the world, we have suffered through a pandemic that affects all of us. Additionally, we were hit with a cyberattack that crippled our system.

Leadership is important any time, but with twin crises, leadership is crucial.

Peter Stark says: “In a moment of crisis, reactions set the leaders apart from the followers.” I would ask the Board members to reflect on their actions over the last year. Have you been the cohesive, consistent leaders that our system and community want and deserve? This is obviously a rhetorical question.

Every member of this Board is a talented and intelligent person, and there will certainly be instances of healthy disagreement. But there are clear and consistent signs of partisanship, and to the outside observer, it often comes across as personal dislike for one another in too many instances. Any team or Board is only effective when the individual members work together for a common cause. And quite simply, that common cause is all of our students!

I have great respect for each of you and the time, effort, and energy you put into your role as a member of this Board, and I get no personal satisfaction in bringing this up tonight. But there is an elephant in the room. That elephant is the unfortunate lack of respect and openness to others’ opinions too often exhibited in the Board’s public meetings. This not only gets squarely in the way of the leadership we need and deserve but sets a tremendously poor example for all stakeholders…especially our students.

So, I am asking each of you tonight, to leave partisanship at the virtual door of every future meeting and work collaboratively and cooperatively with one another to lead us through these twin crises and into the future.

And in your collective leadership role, I ask that you keep former NBA champion Chicago Bulls’ coach Phil Jackson’s words in mind: “The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.”

On behalf of the system leaders who I represent, as well as all stakeholders, I thank you in advance for much-needed reflection and a re-set as you work together to lead the Baltimore County Public Schools.

Have a great meeting tonight!

Thank you,
Tom DeHart
Executive Director, CASE

Perry Hall Assistant Principal Named Best in Maryland

The Maryland Association of Secondary School Principals recognized Deana Giannelli of Perry Hall Middle School as the Secondary Assistant Principal of the Year.

Mrs. Giannelli proved to be an exceptional leader throughout the challenges of 2020, including the pandemic, online learning, and a ransomware attack. She began her career with the Baltimore County Public Schools as a math teacher 20 years ago. As an assistant principal, she oversees scheduling for over 1,900 students, provides professional development for teachers, and supports students and their families.

We congratulate this Baltimore County Public Schools administrator for being one of the best in the state.

To learn more, please read the news article.