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Three new statewide laws regarding education went into effect Thursday, and all of them will impact Harford County’s public schools.

Both the Fairness in Negotiations Act and the Safe Schools Act of 2010 went into effect Thursday, as did a law implementing a statewide longitudinal data system.

Binding arbitration

The Fairness in Negotiations Act will create an independent labor board that will be responsible for issuing mandatory rulings when the board of education and one of its five bargaining unions reach an impasse.

The binding arbitration process will cost the school system money, and if the county government does not approve sufficient funds to implement a negotiated agreement, the school board must renegotiate and find the balance of the funds in its budget. The new law affects labor relations between the school system and more than 5,400 employees, more than 60 percent of them teachers.

The school system has reached tentative agreements with three of its unions for the next school year, but is still negotiating with the Harford County Education Association, which represents teachers, and the Harford County Educational Services Council.

The new law will not apply to negotiations that began prior to July 1, according to Patrick Spicer, legal counsel for the school board.

Under previous law, when collective bargaining reaches impasse, the state superintendent and an impasse panel would assist the board of education and the employee organization during the impasse, but there was no binding arbitration.

School security

The Safe Schools Act of 2010 requires that every high and middle school have a school security officer designated by the local superintendent or principal.

Each high school in the county has one school resource officer who is also responsible for responding to incidents at their corresponding middle schools.

The student resource officer required in each secondary school, under the law, can be a principal, administrator or local police officer, but cannot be a teacher.

The law also contains sections dealing with prevention of and response to gang activities in schools, and requires the Maryland Board of Education to develop a model policy to address gangs and gang-like activity in schools by January 2011.

Longitudinal data

The new Maryland Longitudinal Data System is a statewide database containing individual student data from all levels of education and into the workforce.

It allows schools to keep track of a student’s educational history from the moment they enter kindergarten through and into the workplace.

Having a longitudinal data system was one of the requirements outlined in the Race to the Top competitive federal grant program.

Maryland has applied to participate in the Race to the Top program, which is designed to competitively reward states for implementing education reforms, and one of those reforms is tentatively set at partaking in longitudinal data.

In April, Harford’s school board unanimously approved the purchase of the Performance Matters Enterprise Edition, a longitudinal data system.

A student’s educational history captured in Performance Matters will be aligned with the state so it can be accessed by school systems and colleges all over Maryland.

The assessment system was scheduled to be accessible Thursday, the same day the law requiring it took effect.


user comments (1)


user joestrummersghost says...

Bold move with adjacent homophones in the title. Editor's choice?


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