3 Minutes January 7, 2020

Good evening, Chair Causey, Vice Chair Henn, Superintendent Williams, and members of the Board:

Happy New Year! A new year brings opportunities for resolutions and a promise of new beginnings—a chance to start fresh based on experiences from our past. As we begin the budget cycle for 20-21, it is the appropriate time to resolve to advocate for a budget that addresses inequities in staffing, support, and salaries. It is also a time to address the narrative of the Kirwan Commission recommendations at the local and state level.

CASE fully supports Kirwan as it provides additional funds to expand full-day kindergarten, improve college and career readiness, raise teacher salaries, and support schools in high concentrations of poverty, among other programs.

We do have concerns, however, with funding only teacher salaries. Certainly, teacher salaries must improve to attract and retain the best and brightest. And as I have shared with this Board before, we know the teacher contributes the largest single impact on student growth at 33%.

However, as you know, the principal, and by extension, assistant principal, contribute the 2nd largest single impact to student growth at 25%—only 8% less than the teacher. If we want to attract and retain the best and brightest administrators, their salaries must at least keep pace with those of teachers.

As you are aware, that didn’t happen this year. CASE members were not given the Cost of Living increase that teachers received. Not only is that a blow to the morale of this essential group of leaders, but we have members who received no pay increase and have less buying power now, than they had the year before.

It is a shortsighted game of “Whack a mole” to address the salaries of only one group of people who have significant impact on student growth. CASE asks that this Board resolve to work with our local and state policy makers to rethink the need for improved salaries from only teachers, to educators—as every employee contributes to student success.

That said, this Board must ensure a level of equity relative to Cost of Living increases. If equity is in fact, what you espouse, your voices must be heard. Your dissatisfaction with the funding decisions must be registered. You have a difficult job, and we appreciate your leadership. However, you were elected or appointed to do this job, and sometimes that means making a strong stand on necessary issues. We feel your voices should be heard for all bargaining units.

Our County Executive told the teachers at the New Teacher Orientation in August that they should advocate for what they need. CASE expects this Board to do no less.

Thank you.

Tom DeHart,
Executive Director, CASE

3 Minutes September 10, 2019

Good evening Board Chair Causey, Vice Chair Henn, Superintendent Williams, and members of the Board.

Early last spring this school board submitted an operating budget to the County Executive that included longevity step increases as well as a 2% Cost of Living (COLA) increase for all employees in the five BCPS bargaining units.

In that same time frame, the County Executive appeared before this Board informing us of an $81 million deficit. Obviously county funds spent on salary increases in any form would be precarious.

The County Executive approved step increases for all associations but delayed the COLA for tree of the five until June 2020. Thus 51 CASE employees will actually lose money this year as they are at the last step on our salary scale and won’t receive a COLA to keep up with inflation.

Fortunately, Senate Bill 1030 provided $9.8 million dollars to the county to fund teacher salaries. This money could only be used for teacher salaries. Consequently, teachers received a 2% COLA as of July 1, 2019, and the County Executive did find county funds for another association’s COLA which also began on July 1, 2019.

This is important! Please understand. CASE is by no means suggesting that all employees shouldn’t get the salaries for which they negotiated. And we certainly understand and applaud the state funding that is directed at teachers. But while we have absolutely no animosity towards the association whose COLA was funded by local funds, we feel it is extremely disingenuous of the County Executive to single out 1 of the 4 remaining bargaining units for local funding while lamenting an inherited deficit. 

CASE thanks this Board, its leadership and Dr. Williams for being receptive to potentially funding the other 3 association’s COLAs by transferring funds within the budget. While it wasn’t possible to do, your openness and support is heartening.

With all of this said, the CASE Board of Directors has voted to not sign our Master Agreement and will work without an agreement as the only item negotiated last year was salary. This is done as a sign of disappointment and dissatisfaction of our negotiated agreement not being funded in an arbitrary and capricious manner. This will not impact the hard work and extra effort given by these professionals every day.

Negotiations for the 2020-2021 CASE Master Agreement begin next week. CASE has alerted the Board and the Superintendent that they should be prepared for us to make up for the loss of earnings and retirement benefits incurred this year.

Thank you.

Tom DeHart,
Executive Director, CASE

3 Minutes July 9, 2019

Good evening, Board Chair Causey, Vice Chair Henn, Superintendent Williams, and members of the Board.

Welcome, Dr. Williams, to your first official public school board meeting. As you know, you are coming to Baltimore County at a time with many critical issues facing this board, the system, communities, and individual schools.

However, by referencing Stephen Covey’s “Seek first to understand, then to be understood,” you have shown great wisdom in recognizing that there is far more right with BCPS than there is wrong.

As you are aware, perhaps the single-most difficult, but essential, component for the success of any organization is consistency. Roger Staubach said: “In any team sport, the best teams have consistency and chemistry.” This applies to Team BCPS, and CASE welcomes your stated desire (and we hope demand) for your three C’s—Communication, Consistency, and Coherence—in the daily operation of our system.

The members of CASE hold positions that are the face of BCPS. They are the front-line leadership that is crucial to the success of our system, which is measured by the success of our students. Quite candidly, these folks are too often the ones who are caught in the middle of inconsistent policies and practices.

CASE is excited that principals will be included on the teams you are creating in your 100 Day Entry Plan, around Strategic Leadership, Relationship Building, and Professional Development. The knowledge, experience, and insight gained in their position will be very helpful as you continue to get to know the system.

Again, welcome, Dr. Williams. CASE looks forward to establishing and maintaining a long and collaborative relationship with you.

Thank you.

Tom DeHart

Executive Director, CASE

3 Minutes May 7, 2019

Good evening, Board Chair Causey, Vice Chair Henn, Superintendent White, and members of the Board.

On this Teacher Appreciation Day, CASE would like to take this opportunity to thank all the hard-working teachers in BCPS. The vast majority of CASE members were teachers, and we recognize and appreciate the dedication and perseverance necessary to be successful in the classroom. Again, thank you teachers!

Transparency—currently one of the sexiest terms in our society. I Googled the term and came up with over 12 and a half billion results! Transparency is regularly touted as standard operating procedure in government at the federal, state, and local levels, and yes, even by this school board.

For the sake of discussion, I’ll use the definition of transparency found in Wikipedia. Transparency is operating in such a way that it is easy for others to see what actions are performed.

Last month CASE requested of this Board that, in the spirit of transparency, they share the names of the 2–3 finalists for BCPS superintendent and bring each of them into our community for a day to meet with various stakeholder groups. This is common practice in superintendent searches nationally.

CASE appreciates each member of this Board, and the hard work and dedication you have, and continue to, put into this search.

That said, CASE is challenging the Board go on record tonight to either commit to this transparent practice of meeting the superintendent finalists or maintain the current plan, which is to call a press conference and announce the permanent superintendent.

The Board needs to decide which of these choices exemplifies the level of transparency it espouses. CASE sees it as an easy choice. We think the members of this Board should see it that way too.

Thank you,

Tom DeHart, CASE Executive Director

3 Minutes April 9, 2019

Good evening, Board Chair Causey, Vice Chair Henn, Superintendent White, and members of the Board.

We are in the midst of our superintendent search. Please notice that I said “our”, not “the Board” or just “the search”. I say this because this search process belongs to all stakeholders…not just the Board. As Vice Chair Henn said in her Facebook post yesterday when discussing the superintendent search, “Process matters”.

So, let’s lay out that process. First, thank you to this Board for providing multiple opportunities for stakeholders to share our desires for the next superintendent with Ray and Associates staff. I attended three of the sessions, including the CASE session, where, by the way, Superintendent White was given resounding support as the permanent superintendent. The search process, following stakeholder input, was shared with us by Ray. Stakeholders’ input in the sessions and online, was used to create a flyer with the desired characteristics to be shared with candidates who inquire, or with candidates Ray reaches out to, or those who may already be in Ray’s database.

Ray will cull the applicants for this Board, who will then work to further refine the list based on questions they design. Responses will be completed in an anonymous fashion, and based on the responses, the list will be whittled down to the finalists. The Board will interview them in person and choose the superintendent and announce it to the public.

There is something missing in this process. Our community will not know who any of the candidates are until we are told who the Board has chosen. CASE realizes the need for anonymity early in the process in order to attract candidates who otherwise may not apply, as they are probably already employed and don’t want to jeopardize their current position. However, CASE emphatically recommends that when the Board chooses the 2–3 finalists, they are publicized and each are brought into our district for a day to meet the public, staff, and stakeholders as neighboring districts, as districts across the country have done. Since this Board’s leadership espouses transparency and has stated that the process matters, we should expect no less.

One last thought about process and the Board. CASE encourages each member to continue to be an independent thinker and make decisions based on your knowledge and your beliefs. That is all we can expect, and we trust you will.

Thank you for your dedication and thoughtful deliberation during this process, that is so important to all of us.

Thank you,

Tom DeHart

Parkville High School Principal

Parkville High School Principal Testifies Before Baltimore County Board’s Policy Review Committee

On February 26th, Parkville High School principal and CASE Executive Board member Maureen Astarita testified before BCPS Board’s Policy Review Committee. The committee is in the process of reviewing student discipline policies. Maureen shared members’ insights, concerns and recommendations. Thank you, Maureen, for a great presentation!

Parkville High School Principal

3 Minutes February 5, 2019

Good evening Board Chair Causey, Vice Chair Henn, Superintendent White, and members of the Board.

Two weeks ago, I spoke with you about how a vision was a preferred future, and how a budget needs to be aligned with, and support the vision for that future.

I reminded you that as the School Board, you need to determine the budget needs to support our vision and send that request to the County Executive. I suggested that a Board of Education’s role is to ask for what is needed and not what you thought the County could afford.

Increased funding is needed to meet the growing demand of our communities. Enrollment continues to grow as do the complex needs of our students. If funding doesn’t grow accordingly, the status quo is not maintained, but rather there is regression in services and supports.

We cannot assume that we can fund maintenance of effort for a year and then pick up where we left off. MOE will create a lag which may take years to overcome.

Clearly the county has funding issues, but there seems to be a growing sentiment that increasing revenue is overdue. Hopefully, we will receive increased education dollars from the state. Our county legislators are currently working at the state level to approve impact fees, and it is time that tax rates, either property or income be increased as they haven’t been in over 25 years.

We simply can’t expect to continue to provide the quality services to a growing and increasingly complex student body if funding doesn’t keep pace. And by the way, the education portion of the county budget has decreased over the past several years.

The revised budget presented to this Board two weeks ago is simply unacceptable. CASE continues to support the original budget proposed by Superintendent White. So tonight, I ask you again: Ask for what is needed to grow Baltimore County Public Schools to meet the growing needs of our system, and provide fair compensation for our staff. To ask for less is a disservice to our students, parents, employees, and community.

Thank you,

Tom DeHart

3 Minutes January 22, 2019

Good evening Chairwoman Causey, Vice Chair Henn, Superintendent White, and members of the Board.

You have had a very busy two weeks since the you received the proposed budget, and you have another busy two weeks before you approve it. At last week’s hearing, the public was very supportive, so tonight, I will share CASE’s thoughts on the budget. But first I will start with vision.

Everything begins with a vision. In December, I shared the Board’s vision as written in the BCPS Board Handbook. It states in pertinent part, that the Board “…will seek in every way to make the school system among the highest performing school systems in the nation.” It has been said that a vision is the “preferred future”.

In order for BCPS to progress toward our preferred future, many things have to happen. All of which are supported by allocation of funds. You see, a vision must be aligned with, and supported by a budget. Kind of like the old expression “Put your money where your mouth is.” The budget presented to this Board includes focus on:

  • Special Education and English Learners
  • Literacy and mathematics
  • Growth and infrastructure
  • Transportation
  • School Climate and Safety

Maryland law requires that every district meet a minimum maintenance of effort in their fiscal support. Districts that merely meet the maintenance of effort have great difficulty addressing needs and progressing toward their preferred futures.

This budget has a modest increase over maintenance of effort, but if our preferred future really is to make our system among the highest performing in the nation, we must be willing to ask for what we need to do that.

So as a Board, you need to determine the budget needs to support our vision and send that request to the County Executive. That’s a Board of Education’s role – ask for what is needed. Don’t cut from the budget because you feel the Executive, or the Council will cut it. This is a large budget, but modest in additional requests. CASE asks that you approve the budget as presented to you by the Superintendent.

Thank you in advance for your advocacy of this budget.

Tom DeHart

3 Minutes December 11, 2018

Good evening Chairwoman Causey, Vice Chair Henn, Superintendent White, and members of the Board.

Welcome to each of you as you embark on a journey of service to the students, parents, teachers, administrators, and community at large in the Baltimore County Public Schools.

I am Tom DeHart, Executive Director for the Council of Administrative and Supervisory Employees. CASE is the principals, assistant principals, supervisors, coordinators, specialists and PPWs, the front-line leadership in our system. We look forward to working with and supporting this Board.

With this first-ever hybrid Board you have either been elected by your constituents or appointed by the governor to serve. Congratulations! Each of you bring your own unique strengths, talents, ideas, and beliefs. The political process has placed you on this Board, however we ask that you check your politics at the door, avoid a conflict-driven approach, and work collaboratively to tackle the myriad of issues you will face over the coming years.

In past remarks I have quoted Casey Stengel who said “Finding good players is easy. Getting them to play as a team is another story.” This is especially fitting as you begin your service together.

And begin you will! You must hit the ground running, starting tonight with consideration of the results of the High School Capacity Study, and then time sensitive issues including decisions on the school calendar, budget, school construction, and various contracts. And oh yeah, search for a permanent superintendent, which may well be the most important decision you make.

As you begin your tenure together, I want to remind you of the Board’s vision found in the Baltimore County Board of Education Handbook:

“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 as the result of creating, sustaining, and investing in a culture of deliberate excellence for every student, in every school and in every community.”

This clear, concise, and forward-thinking vision should serve as the litmus test for every decision this Board makes.

Thank you,

Tom DeHart

3 Minutes November 20, 2018

Good evening Chairman Gillis, Vice Chair Stewart, Superintendent White, and members of the Board.

Well, here we are at the last Board meeting in November, and the meeting that I am sure many of you have been eagerly anticipating…your final one!

On behalf of CASE, I would like to take this opportunity to thank each of you for your service to the students, parents, BCPS employees, and the community at large.

Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is What are you doing for others?’” Each of you has fully answered that question. While maintaining careers and being active with your families you have dedicated yourselves to serving with honor and dedication on this Board. In a role that is too often thankless.

I am sure that the general public does not realize the commitment and sacrifice that each of you have made in your service on the Board. These twice monthly meetings are only the tip of the iceberg in the dozens of hours you spend each week in your role. Subcommittees, hearings, retreats, endless emails and phone calls, and homework preparation are but a few of the other commitments you have.

It’s been said that, “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” Members of the Board: I would suggest that your rent is paid in full.

Thank you!

Ms. Causey and Ms. Henn—congratulations on your recent election to serve on our next Board. We look forward to your experience and leadership.

CASE would like to wish everyone a happy and healthy Thanksgiving with family and friends.

Thank you,

Tom DeHart

November 20, 2018