Queen Anne’s BOE Names New Superintendent

The Queen Anne’s County Board of Education has appointed Dr. Andrea Kane as the next Superintendent of Queen Anne’s County Public Schools.

According to a press release,

With a contract in place, Dr. Kane will assume her duties on July 1, 2017. By law, she will have a four-year contract that will run through June 30, 2021.

Dr. Kane currently is the Associate Superintendent of Academic Services/Chief Academic Officer for Richmond Public Schools (Richmond City, VA). She has held a variety of positions including; computer technologist; classroom teacher; assistant principal; principal; senior manager for elementary school improvement; Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum & Instruction; and Associate Superintendent for School Performance.

During her professional career as an educator, starting in 1991 with Anne Arundel County Public Schools, Dr. Kane has overseen many programs, including; professional development; district-wide efforts to eliminate achievement gaps; teacher and principal evaluation models; and a variety of instructional programs. Starting in 2014, Dr. Kane established structures for systemic improvements through her leadership while achieving balanced academic and fiscal accountability with Richmond Public Schools.

Dr. Kane holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Sweet Briar College, a Master of Education in Curriculum & Instruction and Administration/Supervision certification from Loyola College in Maryland, and a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from Northcentral University.

She will succeed Interim Superintendent Gregory Pilewski, whose contract expires on June 30, 2017.

Dr. Kane will be introduced formally at an upcoming Board Meeting.

Read the full press release for more information.

MACo Hosts County Workers’ Compensation Discussion

This week the Maryland Association of Counties held a meeting of County Administrators, County Human Resources Directors, and County Risk Managers for a conversation regarding workers’ compensation coverage for county employees.

types of insurance only
Counties that self-insure and counties that purchase workers’ compensation insurance participated in this week’s discussion at MACo. (information from the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission)

Topics of discussion included, among others:

  • Costs of workers’ compensation and premiums increases for certain high risk categories of employees
  • Back-to-work policies and other cost reduction strategies
  • The relationship between case management and employee morale

Representatives of large and small counties throughout the state participated in the discussion, many attending the meeting in Annapolis in person. The best practices and experiences shared provided a learning opportunity for all.

For more information contact Robin Clark Eilenberg at MACo.

Baltimore City Schools Lay Off 115 on Thursday

Shelly Higgins was leading the seniors at Excel Academy through graduation rehearsals Thursday when she was summoned by the principal. Higgins figured there was a question about the graduation plans.

Instead, she learned she was being laid off.

“I looked at them like, ‘You got to be kidding me,'” said Higgins, a health teacher and the senior class advisor at the West Baltimore school. “I looked over at the principal. She had a tissue in her hand. You could tell that she was crying.”

As reported in The Baltimore Sun,

Similar scenes played out schools across the city as district administrators fanned out to tell librarians, guidance counselors, assistant principals and support staff that they would lose their jobs. Administrators said they laid off 115 people in all, including the first classroom teachers to lose their jobs in a decade.

The layoffs included 32 people who work in the district headquarters and 83 people in the schools. Among them were 13 classroom teachers, 21 librarians or school counselors, and 24 assistant principals, administrators said.

Leaders of the Baltimore Teachers Union were not happy that the district deployed teams to meet individually with affected employees and give them the bad news. The union reps said these meetings would disturb teachers and disrupt classes.

“The approach the District is taking of going into the schools and interrupting a teacher’s day to tell them that they have been laid off is unprecedented,” said Marietta English, the union president, in a statement. “This is a humiliating and truly shocking act that comes on the heels of a stressful semester.”

The union filed a grievance in April complaining that layoff decisions were based partly on employees’ performance evaluations and teaching certifications. The union alleges this is is a violation of the employee contract.

Alison Perkins-Cohen, chief of staff for schools CEO Sonja Santelises, said administrators consider teacher evaluations “one of the critical factors.” She said city school officials disagree with union leaders on whether evaluations should be considered.

Santelises warned months ago that 1,000 people could be laid off to help fill a $130 million shortfall in the $1.31 billion budget for next school year. After the shortfall was announced in December, teachers, parents and students held rallies outside City Hall in Baltimore and the State House in Annapolis to get more money. State and city officials pledged nearly $60 million to help narrow the gap, and Santelises scaled back the layoffs to about 300 in recent weeks.

On Thursday, officials announced that number was further reduced to 115 people. It’s the third straight year of layoffs in the school district.

The school system employs 11,000 people total, about 6,000 of them teachers. Each year administrators recruit hundreds of new teachers for subjects in which there are staffing shortages. The hiring will continue, officials said, and as many as 200 teachers could be recruited, including those laid off who qualify.

Read the full article for more information.

Governor Hogan Vetoes Sick Leave Bill

Governor Hogan today announced he will veto HB 1 / SB 230, Labor and Employment – Maryland Healthy Working Families Act, a bill that would have required employers with 15 or more full-time employees to provide workers with at least five days of sick and safe leave per year.

Hogan had proposed a rival bill that would require paid sick and safe leave for businesses with 50 or more employees and provide tax incentives to smaller businesses that provide leave. Democrats rejected that approach, noting that large businesses typically already provide employees with paid sick leave.

The bill was passed by veto-proof margins in both the Senate and House of Delegates. But unless the vetoed bill is taken up in a special session of the legislature, sick and safe leave advocates will have to wait until the Assembly reconvenes in January for a potential veto override vote.

Governor Hogan announced that his administration will submit a “common sense paid sick leave proposal” as emergency legislation on the first day of the next session. He also said he will issue three executive orders. The first will create a study to examine all aspects of sick leave in Maryland, the second will extend paid sick leave to all contractual employees of the executive branch of state government, and the third will give employers that offer paid sick leave a preference in seeking state government contracts.

The legislation would have also required county governments to provide sick leave to all employees. While county governments generally provide generous benefits, at a much higher rate than the legislation would require, MACo opposed the legislation, raising concerns about the bill’s potential effects on provision of emergency and essential services and with the bill’s broad requirements for providing leave to part-time, seasonal, and contractual employees in the same manner as full-time employees.

Useful Links

MACo Testimony on HB 1

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Maryland General Assembly Gives Final OK to Democrats’ Sick Leave Bill

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Right-sized Sick Leave, a Goldilocks Debate

Hogan Plans to Sign More Than 200 Bills Today. Paid Sick Leave is Not Among Them

Governor Larry Hogan will sign 209 bills today in what is believed to be his eighth and final bill signing of the 2017 legislative session.

The list includes a package of measures to address the state’s growing heroin epidemic. But missing from the hundreds of bills are several high-profile measures that are awaiting action from Hogan, including a top priority of Democratic legislative leaders that requires employers to provide paid sick leave benefits to their workers.

The Washington Post reports,

Hogan also has yet to take action on several other measures, including one that gives the attorney general the power to take legal action against drug companies that dramatically increase the price of off-patent or generic drugs; a bill that allows pharmacists to dispense contraceptives and a piece of legislation that prohibits public and private colleges and universities from including questions about criminal history on their applications.

The governor has 30 days to take action on bills presented to his office. The clock runs out on the paid sick leave bill on Saturday, May 27.

“Too many families know all too well that even if you are lucky enough to have affordable health care if you can not afford to take a day off to see a doctor,” Liz Richards, the director of the Working Matters Coalition, said in a statement. “Governor Hogan has the power to make this smart policy change for a stronger, healthier Maryland by signing” the bill.

Hogan’s office would not comment on whether he plans to veto the paid sick leave bill or if he plans to let the bill become law without his signature.

If Hogan refuses to sign the bill, it won’t be the first time he has allowed a socially progressive piece of legislation to become law without his signature.

Earlier this year, the governor allowed a bill to become law without his signature that commits state funds to reimburse Planned Parenthood clinics for their services if Congress defunds the organization. Hogan also let a measure move forward without his signature that gives additional state money to the attorney general’s office to help it sue the Trump administration over health care, environment and immigration.

The bill would also require county governments to provide sick leave to all employees. While county governments generally provide generous benefits, at a much higher rate than the legislation would require, MACo opposed the legislation, raising concerns about the bill’s potential effects on provision of emergency and essential services and with the bill’s broad requirements for providing leave to part-time, seasonal, and contractual employees in the same manner as full-time employees.

Useful Links

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Maryland General Assembly Gives Final OK to Democrats’ Sick Leave Bill

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Right-sized Sick Leave, a Goldilocks Debate

City Council Proposes Bill to Retain Service Workers Amid Contract Changes

If passed by the City Council and signed by the Mayor, Baltimore City could join the ranks of Montgomery County and other cities across the nation that would require certain incoming contractors to retain existing service workers for a set period of time when contracts are transitioning to new hands.

As reported in The Baltimore Sun:

The bill requires an incoming contractor to retain the existing workforce for at least a 90-day transition period. Backers say it would protect thousands of city workers from losing jobs on short notice or being forced to reapply for their own positions.

Similar laws have been enacted in Montgomery County, California and at least 12 cities, including Philadelphia and New York and Washington.

Councilwoman Shannon Sneed, the bill’s sponsor, said the city’s service workers, including many who live in her East Baltimore district, shouldn’t have to worry about losing a job just because of a change in management. Those who are not retained after the 90-day period at least would have time to look for a new job, she said.

“We’re just saying before you come in and make changes, find out how it works,” said Sneed, who said she has strong support on the council for the bill. “We are pro-business. We ultimately want to keep people employed so these folks won’t be put out with a minute’s notice.”

The bill, which is up for a hearing before the council’s labor committee on Thursday, covers workers in security, janitorial, building maintenance and food service jobs at universities, convention centers, stadiums, residential and commercial buildings, industrial facilities, distribution centers and the casino. During the three-month transition period, workers can be fired only for cause, not just to be replaced.

A spokesman for Mayor Catherine Pugh said Friday that the mayor is withholding judgment on the proposal until after the council acts on the bill.

Read the The Baltimore Sun to learn more.

Pugh Backs Calls For Multimillion Dollar Investment in Affordable Housing in Baltimore

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh publicly backed advocates’ calls Saturday for her administration to issue $40 million in bonds annually for affordable housing and deconstruction projects — a move activists say would cut down on the problems of joblessness and homelessness.

As reported by The Baltimore Sun,

About 200 people rallied at Baltimore’s War Memorial Building in favor of the Baltimore Housing Roundtable’s “20/20 Campaign,” which calls for the city to dedicate $20 million in public bonds to an affordable-housing trust fund each year and $20 million in public bonds annually to take down vacant homes and fund projects that create green space.

Pugh told the crowd she is troubled by the levels of homelessness and unemployment she sees in Baltimore.

“We cannot afford to have people living on the streets of our city,” the mayor said. “Regardless of what your status is, everybody deserves a place to live. … The vision for 20/20 is one that I support. When we lift the least, we lift all of us.”

The advocacy group United Workers formed the Baltimore Housing Roundtable in 2013 by bringing together 25 organizations to address affordable-housing issues.

In addition to the $40 million in annual bonds, the group recommends the city establish a land bank to speed up the conversion of vacant properties to affordable housing, and give priority to ex-offenders for training and employment working on such projects. It advocated a process called “decontruction,” rather than demolition of vacant properties, to provide more jobs and recycle building materials.

Several City Council members attended the rally, including Zeke Cohen, Ryan Dorsey, Bill Henry, Kris Burnett, John Bullock, Shannon Sneed and Mary Pat Clarke.

Clarke said she believes there would be support on the City Council for the advocates’ proposals.

“It’s worth the investment,” she said. “We need affordable housing that stays affordable.”

Read the full article for more information.

Baltimore Schools Chief Proposes Up to 300 Layoffs to Balance District Budget

Baltimore city schools chief Sonja Santelises is proposing to lay off as many as 300 people, including teachers, to balance a $1.31 billion budget next year.

Santelises released her full budget plan for 2018 late Friday. It will go now to the city school board for approval.

As reported in The Baltimore Sun,

The layoffs include fewer than 75 teachers in core subjects such as math and English, school officials said. The job cuts would mean a third straight year of layoffs in the school district, though cuts in recent years did not include teachers. The layoff notices will be sent to affected teachers and administrators by June 1, officials said.

“While we had to make cuts, we kept the majority of the resources where the core of teaching and learning happens — in the classroom,” Santelises said in a statement.

The majority of layoffs will affect administrators and support staff, such as classroom assistants, special education aides, office secretaries, and central office employees. District administrators expect to further reduce the number of layoffs through routine retirements and departures that typically occur at the end of the school year.

“We are very hopeful and optimistic that there will be fewer than 300 individuals,” said Edie House-Foster, the school district spokeswoman.

The budget has been a matter of debate and worry among school district employees for months, ever since Santelises revealed in January that the school system faced a $130 million shortfall. She warned then that there could be 1,000 people laid off. But four months later, after state and city legislators pledged nearly $60 million to help narrow the budget gap, Santelises has scaled back the layoffs.

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh praised the work of legislators to reduce the shortfall.

“That doesn’t make the proposed layoffs any less difficult, because these are real people and families,” she said in a statement Friday. “Funding quality education in Baltimore is a priority that we all share.”

The money from state and city legislators cut the deficit to about $70 million. Santelises closed the remaining shortfall with cuts of $30 million from schools and $10 million from the central office. She’s counting on $10 million in other savings next year, and plans to balance the budget by transferring $21 million from a reserve fund, considerably less than the $53 million diverted last year.

Her budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1 represents a 2.6 percent decrease from this year.

Santelises’ budget decreases per-pupil funding for traditional schools by about $150, bringing the total to $5,416 for next year.

Charter schools are budgeted to see an increase of about $150, pushing the per-pupil total to $9,288. Charters receive more money because the central office doesn’t provide essential services and they must pay for their own administrators and building expenses.

The budget passed last year increased per-pupil amounts for traditional schools but decreased amounts for charters, both by more than $200.

Last year, the school system laid off about 100 people in a round of cuts that affected school police officers and central office administrators, but spared teachers and principals. The cuts saved about $14 million. Forty-four employees who lost their jobs worked in the central office.

In spring of 2015, administrators also laid off more than 100 people, bringing the district’s first job cuts in more than a decade. The district tapped into its rainy-day fund to avoid layoffs in 2014.

School board members are scheduled to vote May 23 on Santelises’ budget.

Useful Links

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Baltimore City Schools CEO Warns of Massive Layoffs

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Hogan Signs Bill to Help Close Baltimore Schools Budget Gap

Read the full article from The Baltimore Sun

Maryland General Assembly Gives Final OK to Democrats’ Sick Leave Bill

The General Assembly gave final approval to a bill that would extend paid sick leave to almost 700,000 Maryland workers, setting up a potential clash with Gov. Larry Hogan, who has threatened to veto the measure.

The House of Delegates approved the Senate version of the Democratic legislation by a veto-proof margin, sending it to the Republican governor.

According to The Baltimore Sun,

A Hogan veto would set up an override vote as one of the first items of business when the legislature reconvenes in an election year next January. Hogan promised last month to veto the bill, which he derided as “a partisan attempt to put points on the board to use against me in a campaign in 2018.”

Asked about the bill at an event in Baltimore Wednesday afternoon, Hogan was more equivocal.

“We’re dealing with the 27 bills they sent us,” he said. “They’re going to send us another thousand. We’ll have until May to talk about all those.”

The legislation, five years in the making, would require businesses with 15 or more full-time employees to let their workers earn at least five days of sick time a year.

Hogan had proposed a rival bill that would have applied to businesses that employ 50 or more workers in a single location. Democrats rejected that approach, saying businesses that large typically already provide employees with paid sick leave.

The governor’s bill would have offered tax credits for smaller businesses to offer such a benefit. Democrats said Hogan never explained how he would pay for the $60 million annual cost of the credit.

Republicans warned that the bill sponsored by Democrats would hurt small businesses and cause them to close their doors or move out of state.

The House voted 87-53 to approve the legislation. GOP delegates voted as a bloc against the bill. Three Democrats joined them. Another was absent Wednesday. It takes 85 votes in the House to override a veto.

The Senate passed the bill Monday, after amending it to reduce some burdens on businesses.

Where the House had proposed seven days of leave, the Senate changed that to five. The Senate also changed the average number of hours an employee needs to work per week to qualify from eight to 12, and extended the minimum number of days on the payroll to qualify from 90 to 106, a concession to employers who hire workers for seasonal jobs, such as those in Ocean City in the summer.

Similar legislation passed the House last year but got hung up in the Senate Finance Committee.

That panel’s chairman, Sen. Thomas M. “Mac” Middleton, convened a work group including businesses and advocates last summer. The group helped hammer out a more acceptable version of the bill.

With the Democrats’ proposal gaining momentum, Hogan weighed in late last year with what he billed as a “common sense” alternative. The measure won praise from Republican lawmakers, but business groups did not line up to support it.

Read the full article for more information.

City Council Won’t Attempt Override of Pugh’s $15 Minimum Wage Veto

The effort to raise Baltimore’s minimum wage to $15 an hour is dead — at least for now.

Two weeks after the City Council backed the wage hike by a veto-proof majority, the bill’s lead sponsor said Monday she had failed to collect enough signatures to even attempt an override of Mayor Catherine Pugh’s veto.

According to The Baltimore Sun,

“It has been laid to rest,” City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke said of the legislation, after acknowledging just six of her colleagues had joined her in trying to force a vote to override the veto. She needed 10 council votes to force an override attempt.

But Clarke said she wasn’t done fighting for a $15 minimum wage. She suggested she would try to launch a petition drive to place the matter before voters in the 2018 election.

“The fight for $15 goes on,” Clarke said.

Due to a little-known provision in city law and scheduling issues, council members needed to hold a special meeting within the next two weeks to attempt to override Pugh’s veto. But while 12 of the council’s 15 members supported the $15 minimum-wage legislation — the exact number needed to override a mayoral veto — just seven signed Clarke’s letter calling for a special meeting to do so.

Council members Zeke Cohen, Ryan Dorsey, Bill Henry, John Bullock, Kristerfer Burnett and Shannon Sneed signed Clarke’s letter calling for a vote on the veto override. Five of the seven are freshmen on the council.

After Pugh said she was vetoing the bill, City Councilman Edward Reisinger announced he was withdrawing his support of it. And City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young and Councilman Robert Stokes said they would not sign Clarke’s letter forcing an override vote.

When running for mayor, Pugh told labor unions she would sign the $15 minimum-wage bill if it reached her desk. Pugh said she changed her position, in part, because of the budget problems she encountered after taking office in December, including a $130 million schools budget deficit she is trying to help close. The mayor allocated $22 million in her first budget proposal to help that effort.

The Pugh administration estimated the minimum-wage bill would cost the city $116 million over four years, including the expense of paying city workers a higher minimum wage. Some businesses said they would offset higher costs by raising prices, laying off workers, putting expansion plans on hold or looking for sites outside the city.

The vetoed bill, which would have raised the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2022, exempted workers younger than 21 and gave businesses with fewer than 50 employees until 2026 to comply.

Even with the veto, Baltimore’s minimum wage is increasing along with the rate statewide under legislation Pugh supported while in the state Senate. The rate in Maryland will rise to $9.25 on July 1 and to $10.10 a year later.

Pugh said advocates should focus on raising the wage at the state level. She said an economic imbalance between the wages of Baltimore and its surrounding counties could cause jobs to leave and unemployment to rise.

“We are on target to continue to raise the minimum wage,” Pugh said, noting the minimum wage will rise for the next two years. “The fight for $15 goes out to 2026. … We will be pushing just as hard as we can as at the state level. We may be past $15 by 2026.”

Useful Links

The Baltimore Sun Article

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Pugh Vetoes $15 Minimum Wage Bill