Category Archives: 3 Minutes with the Board

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

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

3 Minutes October 9, 2018

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

October is Principal Appreciation month. As an Air Force brat who attended 13 schools in 12 years, I experienced a lot of principals, who I recall as older veterans who had worked their way up to finish their careers. William Whyte described these middle managers in his 1950’s classic The Organization Man – as an overseer of buses, boilers, and books.

In today’s rapidly changing era of standards-based reform and accountability, a different description has emerged. Today’s principals contribute 25% to student achievement and no longer function only as managers (although that task remains on their plates), but rather as leaders of learning who can develop a team delivering effective instruction.

The Wallace Foundation suggests that principal leadership entails five key responsibilities:

  • Shaping a vision of academic success for all students — one based on high standards
  • Creating a climate hospitable to education — in order that safety, a cooperative spirit and other foundations of fruitful interaction occur
  • Cultivating leadership in others — so that teachers and other adults assume their parts in realizing the school vision
  • Improving instructionto enable teachers to teach at their best and students to learn at their utmost
  • Managing people, data, and processes — to foster school improvement

These five tasks all interact with one another in order for any part to succeed and are undergirded by the Professional Standards for Educational Leaders which BCPS uses to grow and evaluate principals.

I have worked with principals across this state, and Baltimore County has the best principals around. I would need three hours, not three minutes to describe to you the care, perseverance, dedication, loyalty, work ethic, and professionalism they exhibit every single day. For 50–60 hours a week. And then principals never really go home, as they carry their schools with them. 

Nationally, principal retention rates are plummeting. BCPS new principal support in the form of principal mentors, as well as the shift in compliance to coaching at the Zone level is encouraging, but the position has great burn out potential. 

The principal’s role may be the loneliest job in education. CASE encourages the Board, central office, and the public to offer sincere thanks and appreciation this and every month for the tireless and stressful work these folks do. Often, all it takes is a note, phone call, or visit to the principal, to remind them why they undertook such a daunting role. 

Thank you,

Tom DeHart

3 Minutes August 21, 2018

Chairman Gilliss, Vice Chair Stewart, Superintendent White, and Members of the Board,

Tonight, you will be asked to approve a strategic, limited reorganization of BCPS executive leadership. The Council of Administrative and Supervisory Employees is in full support of this reorganization. There are several reasons for this.

First, this reorganization supports the vision of the superintendent – Literacy and School Culture. The creation of a Division of School Climate and Safety, with dedicated and focused chief level leadership, speaks directly to the degree of importance, and leverage of this division. It addresses concerns regarding student safety voiced by all stakeholders, as it aligns resources for the physical and social emotional needs of our students, creating a more viable conduit to the schoolhouse. It also ensures the effective use of additional staffing given to BCPS by the late County Executive Kamenetz.

Secondly, at the last Board meeting I spoke to you about my enthusiasm for the commitment from System leadership, to ongoing collaboration between and amongst zone leadership. This helps to create much needed consistency and inter-rater reliability around principal growth and evaluation. I said that the most important thing an executive director does is increase the skills of the building principal.

This reorganization allows executive directors to supervise a far more manageable number of principals thereby increasing their ability to coach, supervise, and grow principal effectiveness. The move from 4 Zones to 3 begins to address the concerns CASE has had regarding consistency as well.

Lastly, this reorganization speaks to both of Superintendent White’s foci based on her vision. A good leader has a vision, shares it, lives it, and supports it in any number of ways, but most noticeably, by organizing resources and staff to support the vision, and Ms. White is an excellent instructional leader.

Some may suggest that reorganization should wait until a new superintendent is named. CASE feels however, that we have waited long enough, and frankly we support Ms. White as the next superintendent. We applaud the fact that Ms. White is putting her fingerprints on the System and we encourage her to continue. Because, as Louise Heath Leber says: “There’s always room for improvement – it’s the biggest room in the house.”

Thank you
Tom DeHart
CASE Executive Director

3 Minutes May 28, 2018

At each Baltimore County Board of Education meeting, CASE has three minutes to present information to the board in the interest of our organization. The following is a transcript from one of those meetings.

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

I want to share my remarks made to the Maryland State Board of Education this morning.

I am Tom DeHart, Executive Director of the Council of Administrative and Supervisory Employees of the Baltimore County Public Schools. Seated with me are Cheryl Brooks, President of the Association of Elementary School Administrators, and Erin O’Toole-Trivas, President of the Secondary Schools Administrators Association.

Additionally, we have over 40 principals and various other leaders in the Baltimore County Public school system here with us today to show in human form, the level of support we have for Verletta White as the permanent superintendent of BCPS.

Further, in a survey of all principals, assistant principals, supervisors, coordinators, and PPWs, with a 76% reply rate, the leaders in our system support Ms. White at a 9 to 1 margin as the permanent superintendent.

Our Board of Education voted 8–4, to offer Ms. White the Superintendent position. Those 8 Board members represent 2/3 of the entire district. Despite this overwhelming level of support for Ms. White, this state superintendent chose to override the local community’s wishes in an unprecedented “big brother knows best” mentality. 3 minutes does not allow me to debunk the two sticking points cited for this denial.

This action occurred in part because of a social media campaign conducted by BCPS Board members who were unhappy with the vote. What a shame. Last week the Cecil County Board voted 3–2 to hire a new superintendent. The two dissenting members said they would support the majority choice because after all it is about the students. How refreshing!

I believe all citizens in the State of Maryland should be extremely concerned with this historic overreach by this state superintendent with the approval of this Board. No less than 4 Maryland districts are currently searching for and will hire superintendents. Will they pass muster? Will this be the beginning of the end of local autonomy for districts to choose the superintendent that best meets the criteria that they have determined as local residents? Disturbingly, there is now precedence for such action. Maryland is the only state that requires a state superintendent approval of a local LEA superintendent.

These three BCPS leadership organizations ask that Dr. Salmon reverse her decision to disallow Ms. White’s contract in the wake of the overwhelming support from the entire Baltimore County community, and just as importantly, her unparalleled experience and qualifications for the job. Let’s not let politics override the will of the people because after all it is about the students.

Thank you.

3 Minutes May 11, 2018

At each Baltimore County Board of Education meeting, CASE has three minutes to present information to the board in the interest of our organization. The following is a transcript from one of those meetings.

Chairman Gilliss, Vice Chair Stewart, Superintendent White, and members of the Board.

Two months ago, in my remarks to the Board I likened the state of BCPS to that of a boat trying to survive in a perfect storm. Two of the factors I mentioned to creating this situation were:

  • Collateral damage because of political gamesmanship in an election year
  • Clear ongoing divisiveness of the members on this Board

I suggested that the various stakeholders in Baltimore County were looking for leadership from this body. Since then, to your credit, after hours of public debate bordering on filibuster, the Board voted 8–4 to offer Ms. White the permanent superintendent position.

However due to continued political gamesmanship, and the divisiveness of several Board members who did not get their way in an overwhelming 2–1 vote, that contract was not approved in an unprecedented move by the State Superintendent. This was in partial part because of a social media campaign by Board members in a move that is extremely disappointing and smacks of partisan politics. As author John C. Danforth said: “The loudest voices we hear are those who advocate conflict and divisiveness.”

I believe we need to change that narrative. As the Executive Director of the Council of Administrative and Supervisory Employees which has gone on record as supporting Ms. White as the permanent superintendent at a 90% margin, I am asking this Board to appeal to the State Superintendent regarding her  decision. I would further request that you not ask for the decision to be reevaluated, but rather reversed.

I know that any appeal from this Board will require a motion and second thus opening the way for discussion before a vote is taken. I would ask that the members of the Board limit the discussion in consideration of the members of the community and hard working BCPS employees here tonight. First, there is really nothing new to discuss, and second, hours of bickering will not change the final vote, which will be 8–4.

This Board has 7 more months to serve the students, parents, staff and public. Isn’t it a shame that I feel comfortable predicting Board votes?

Casey Stengel said: “Getting’ good players is easy. Gettin’ ‘em to play together is the hard part.”

You are the leadership for Team BCPS.  You are all good players. We need you to play together.

Thank you,

Tom DeHart
CASE Executive Director



3 Minutes April 2018

At each Baltimore County Board of Education meeting, CASE has three minutes to present information to the board in the interest of our organization. The following is a transcript from one of those meetings.

Members of the Board,

In October 1991, a confluence of weather conditions combined to form a killer storm in the North Atlantic. Caught in the storm was the sword-fishing boat Andrea Gail. This experience where about everything that could go wrong, did, was characterized in the movie: The Perfect Storm.

I would suggest that the Baltimore County Public School system is in the midst of a confluence of factors which is creating our own “perfect storm”.

  • Recent criminal guilty pleas by high ranking system officials that has eroded both public and school board confidence and has seemingly created distrust of all, as a result of the actions of a few.
  • Collateral damage to our school system as a result of the political war of words between the governor and the county executive
  • Some local politicians taking potshots at the school system leadership to garner votes in this election year
  • No shortage of inaccurate information on posts and blogs
  • A lame duck School Board with clearly apparent divisiveness on many issues
  • An interim superintendent while the Board searches for a permanent superintendent

There are more, but you get the idea…

Tonight, you will discuss and vote on a technology contract. Did you get necessary information in a timely fashion? Do you ignore the open, transparent, and representative process that was used to choose the product and vendor? Do you just flat out distrust the BCPS staff? Only you know the answers to this.

Here is what I know: The online platform is how business is conducted in BCPS today. Grading and reporting, parent communication, and curriculum access all require this technology.

And just as important, this contract is a social justice issue. Students of all socio-economic levels deserve the same access to technology.

Leadership during a perfect storm is difficult at best. Indecisiveness and poor decisions can prove costly, and spoiler alert: The captain of the Andrea Gail made poor decisions that proved disastrous.

The students, parents, teachers, and administrators are looking for leadership from this Board. You are all smart people…figure it out, and please use your remaining tenure to work collaboratively for the entire Baltimore County community.

Thank you.