Monday, September 15, 2014

This 17-Year-Old's Brilliant Invention May Lower Accidental Gun Deaths In America

Huffington Post
By
9/11/14

Seventeen-year-old Kai Kloepfer's idea for a finger-print sensitive smart gun came to him in a dream. This week, the Colorado teen won a $50,000 grant from the Smart Tech Challenges Foundation with the hopes of bringing that vision to life.

In an interview with FOX's Denver news channel KDVR, Kloepfer said that he believes his invention could improve America's gun safety and reduce accidental gun deaths. He describes a design that is simple and user-friendly.

"All you have to do is pick the firearm up and the way you naturally rest your hand on the firearm unlocks it," he says. "So you don't have to swipe or anything like that."

The design uses fingerprint sensors to prevent anybody but the gun's owner from firing a bullet. Because the gun can be programmed to store an unlimited number of owners, Kloepfer's invention could even be used by police forces and military units.

Previously, Kloepfer entered his design in the 2013 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, where he was ranked in the top 34 out of 7 million high school students.


Read more HERE

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Board increases GPA, attendance rules for sports, clubs

The Board of Education on Tuesday unanimously voted to increase grade and attendance requirements for students participating in extracurricular activities and athletics.

The new requirements take effect next school year, but students’ grades the second semester of this school year will impact their eligibility to participate in extracurricular activities in the fall of 2015. The new rules require students to maintain a 2.25 grade-point average with no failing “F” grades to participate in any extracurricular activity, including sports. Additionally, students may not be absent more than 9.5 days in the previous semester.

The change raises the standards from a 2.0 grade-point average and takes effect with the 2015-16 school year. Incoming ninth graders are no longer automatically eligible to participate in fall sports or clubs the first semester; the student’s second semester grades in eighth grade will determine eligibility. Students promoted from fifth to sixth grade are automatically eligible to participate the first semester.

Currently, students must maintain a minimum grade-point average of 2.0 and receive no more than one failing grade per quarter in order to participate in extracurricular activities.
The Board also approved the following eligibility guidelines:

  • Eligibility for fall extracurricular activities will be based on a student’s second semester grade-point average at the end of the previous year.
  • Eligibility for winter extracurricular activities will be based on a student’s second semester grade-point average at the end of the previous year.
  • Eligibility for spring extracurricular activities will be based on a student’s first semester grade-point average.
  • If a student receives a failing grade in any quarter, they are ineligible for the remainder of the season and semester. Students cannot gain eligibility at interim.
  • Any student who receives a failing grade for the semester is ineligible for participation for the following semester.
  • Students academically ineligible at the end of the second semester cannot regain eligibility by enrolling in summer school.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Notes from Board of Education Meeting, 9/9/14


The Board of Education Meeting on Tuesday, August 12 will be re-broadcast on Comcast Channel 96, Verizon FIOS Channel 12 and is available via webstream at http://www.ccboe.com/ . To view the full agenda and the various reports, please visit BoardDocs.

 
The below notes are my personal notes and are not intended to be all-inclusive or official minutes for the Board of Education meetings and are provided as a request from my supporters and the general public in a personal effort to be more transparent. Although I have diligently tried to make these notes as unbiased and accurate as possible, I am only human and do make mistakes.





Executive Session – 12 p.m.

Call to order – 1 p.m. - Pledge of Allegiance – Westlake High School
 
Superintendent’s update to the Board - See report

Correspondence/board member updates
  • Bowie - timely notice for PK families regarding notification process; calendar - 2 hour early dismissal days, reevaluation; Common Core math challenge the board to take the math sheets.
  • Pedersen - Hunger in the county is an issue; Tri-County Food Pantry.
  • Lukas - 5K race at Thomas Stone; St. Charles High School Saturday night fascinating.
Education Association of Charles County update - See Report

Student board member’s update - See report

Oral Update on Opening of schools
  • 5 new Principals; 8 new Vice Principals
  • New vaccine requirements; health department providing

Oral Update on Summer School
  • 92 Middle School; 409 High School; 614 credits; 31 different classes;
  • Financial Literacy

Visitor Mangement System - See report
  • New Security Sign-In Procedure

Capital Improvement Program (CIP) update - See report
  • Pedersen - Relocateables at Somers?
  • Abell - Update relocateables on report
  • Abell - need for Feasibility Study

FY 2014 Comprehensive Maintenance Plan - See report

Instruction Update Computer Science - See report
  • Coding K-12
Unfinished business

New business

Future agenda items





Public Forum – 6 p.m.
  • Ron Wade - Athletic Eligibility proposal.  Concerned about the "F" especially for AP students.

Action items
  • Minutes
Motion to accept the minutes Abell; Second by Cook
Yes = Abell, Bowie, Cook, Lukas, Pedersen, Wise
  • Personnel
Motion to accept the personnel Cook; Second by Abell
Yes = Abell, Bowie, Cook, Lukas, Pedersen, Wise





  • FY 2015 CIP state and local CIP program
Motion to accept the CIP Lukas; Second by Cook
Yes = Abell, Bowie, Cook, Lukas, Pedersen, Wise
  • CIP Amendment
Motion to accept the CIP Amendment Cook; Second by Pedersen
Yes = Abell, Bowie, Cook, Lukas, Pedersen, Wise
  • Policies 5161.1
Motion to accept Policy 5161.1 Cook; Second by Pedersen








Yes = Abell, Bowie, Cook, Lukas, Pedersen, Wise
  • Academic eligibility grade-point average
Motion to accept the Academic Eligibility GPA Cook; Second by Pedersen
Yes = Abell, Bowie, Cook, Lukas, Pedersen, Wise
  • Recurring resolutions: American Education Week; American Freedom Week; African-American History Month; Career and Technology Education Month; Gifted and Talented Education Month; National School Counseling Week; Read Across America; Women’s History Month; Fine and Performing Arts Month; Month of the Young Child; National Student Leadership Week; Teacher Appreciation Week; Administrative Professionals Week; Child Nutrition Employee Appreciation Week; National Physical Education and Sport Week; Washington Post Distinguished Educational Leader; Charles County Teacher of the Year; Employees Retirement; and Washington Post Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teacher Award.
Motion to accept the Recurring Resolutions Cook; Second by Pedersen
Yes = Bowie, Cook, Lukas, Pedersen, Wise; Abstain = Abell
Adjournment



Wednesday, September 03, 2014

REMINDER: Board of Education Meeting, 9/9/14


The Board of Education’s next monthly meeting is Tuesday, Sept. 9, at the Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building on Radio Station Road in La Plata. The public portion of the meeting begins at 1 p.m. The meeting is televised live on Comcast Channel 96 and Verizon FiOS Channel 12, and is rebroadcast throughout the week. Board meetings are also streamed live on the school system website www.ccboe.com. Select CCPS TV and then choose the Live Broadcast tab.

Executive session – 12 p.m.
Call to order – 1 p.m. - Pledge of Allegiance – Westlake High School

Superintendent’s update to the Board

Reports of officers/boards/committees
·         Correspondence/board member updates
·         Education Association of Charles County update
·         Student board member’s update
·         Opening of schools
·         Capital Improvement Program (CIP) update
·         Report item: FY 2014 Comprehensive Maintenance Plan
·         Legislative update

Unfinished business
New business and Future agenda items

·         New business
·         Future agenda items

Public Forum – 6 p.m.
Action items
·         Minutes
·         Personnel
·         FY 2015 CIP state and local CIP program
·         Policies 5161.1
·         Athletic eligibility grade-point average
·         Recurring resolutions: American Education Week; American Freedom Week; African-American History Month; Career and Technology Education Month; Gifted and Talented Education Month; National School Counseling Week; Read Across America; Women’s History Month; Fine and Performing Arts Month; Month of the Young Child; National Student Leadership Week; Teacher Appreciation Week; Administrative Professionals Week; Child Nutrition Employee Appreciation Week; National Physical Education and Sport Week; Washington Post Distinguished Educational Leader; Charles County Teacher of the Year; Employees Retirement; and Washington Post Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teacher Award.

Adjournment

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Vaccination requirement deadline is Sept. 15; clinics available

The state health department is requiring kindergarten and seventh-grade students to get additional vaccinations this school year. Failure to receive the immunizations or provide proof of updated shot records by Sept. 15 could lead to the exclusion of students from school.

Charles County Public Schools kindergarten students are now required to have two doses of the Varicella, or chickenpox, vaccine and seventh graders must have one dose of the Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis/whooping cough) and one dose of the Meningitis (MCV4/Meningococcal) vaccine. These are new requirements for the 2014-15 school year from the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and updated shot records for these students must be provided to the school within the first 20 calendar days of the school year.

The 20-day calendar rule is required by law under the Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR). By law, if proof of immunization (an updated shot record) is not provided to the school by Monday, Sept. 15, students will be suspended. Students will be reinstated once proof of the new vaccinations is received.

Students can receive the new vaccinations from their physician. The Charles County Department of Health is also hosting vaccination clinics on Thursday, Sept. 4 and Thursday, Sept. 11, both from 3 to 7 p.m., to provide students in kindergarten and seventh grades with new vaccinations required this school year.

The Charles County Department of Health is located at 4545 Crain Highway, White Plains, Md., 20695. Appointments for either clinic are preferred and can be made by calling the Health Department at 301-609-6900, ext. 6018. Parents attending the clinics should bring a copy of their child’s shot record.

These are in addition to the already required vaccines of DTaP, polio, measles, mumps, rubella (MMR), chickenpox (Varicella), hepatitis B, Hib and prevnar.

The MCV4 vaccination protects students from certain meningococcal bacteria that can lead to meningitis or sepsis. After students are initially vaccinated before seventh grade, an additional booster shot is recommended at age 16. Typically, MCV4 is a required vaccination for college/university students; however the State Department of Health has found it necessary for students age eleven and older to receive these vaccinations.

As for Tdap, the original vaccination received in early childhood for tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis (DTaP) wears off; therefore a supplemental booster shot is suggested at age eleven for continued protection against the bacteria that causes these diseases.

Parents with questions about the vaccinations should contact their child’s physician or the nurse at their child’s school.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Board appoints ethics panel members

The Board of Education of Charles County has appointed William Olmsted, a La Plata lawyer, to serve as chairman of the newly appointed Board of Education Ethics Panel. The panel is serving a four-year term that ends in June 2018.

Joining Olmsted on the panel are James Cornette of La Plata, Theresa Everette of Waldorf, Jessie Morris of Waldorf and Derrick Nunn of Waldorf.

The Board appoints the all-volunteer, five-member panel every four years prior to a Board of Education election. The ethics panel interprets ethics regulations and provides advisory opinions to Board Members and employees subject to the regulations. The panel also reviews complaints concerning any alleged ethics violation and receives and maintains all forms required to be filed under the ethics regulation.

Board wants staff, public to weigh in on facilities study

The Board of Education is hosting three public forums to provide information about a facilities report evaluating all Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) schools and centers as well as renovation and school construction recommendations for the next decade.

CCPS has scheduled the following sessions to present information to the public about the survey report, answer questions and accept comments:

  • Benjamin Stoddert Middle School, 6 p.m., Sept. 22, in the cafeteria;
  • La Plata High School, 6 p.m., Sept. 29, in the auditorium; and
  • Maurice J. McDonough High School, 6 p.m., Oct. 13, in the auditorium.
Last school year, the Charles County Commissioners approved payment for a comprehensive survey to assess the physical condition of each school building and site to determine its ability to provide students with a modern education program aligned with CCPS educational specifications. CCPS contracted GWWO Architects to compile and analyze data including school capacity, student enrollment, physical building conditions, staff survey responses, mechanical system conditions and site characteristics. The Board of Education, on Aug. 25, received the report from GWWO and the school system’s supporting services staff.

The next steps, according to Keith Hettel, assistant superintendent of supporting services, are to analyze the GWWO report, inform the public and solicit input; continue with current Capital Improvement Program (CIP) submissions; discuss affordability and forecasts with county government staff; revise CIP submissions at the county and state level; and work with the state on CCPS decisions on future renovations and new construction.

The complete report is located on the Board of Education’s Board Docs area at http://www.boarddocs.com/mabe/ccpsmd/Board.nsf/files/9NBNWZ61FB52/$file/GWWO-Study-DRAFT-description%20sheets_4102014.pdf.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Board of Education and Commissioners Work Session, 8/25/14

The Board of Education has scheduled a joint work session with the Charles County Commissioners at 6 p.m., Monday, Aug. 25, at the Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building at 5980 Radio Station Road, La Plata. There is a public forum scheduled at 6 p.m., followed by the work session.

The work session is scheduled to receive the report contracted by the Board and the Commissioners to survey the physical condition of each school building, geographical location, and projected demographics. The report provides information about optimum number, size and locations of schools countywide and will be used as a guide for the Charles County Board of Education to develop a 10-year capital improvement plan.

All Board of Education meetings are televised live on Comcast Channel 96 and Verizon FiOS Channel 12, and rebroadcast throughout the week. Board meetings are also streamed live on the school system website www.ccboe.com. Select CCPS TV and then choose the Live Broadcast tab.

The following is the meeting agenda:

Call to order – 6 p.m. - Pledge of Allegiance

Public Forum

Work session

  • GWWO school facilities study
Adjournment

Friday, August 22, 2014

System launches new building entry system

Charles County Public Schools is launching a new entry system at all schools, centers and buildings this school year that changes how visitors, students and staff enter the facility. The system is intercom and video-based and is being programmed to match the bell schedules at each individual school. Most schools will begin use of the system when schools open on Monday, Aug. 25.

Based on the school bell schedule, doors will be locked automatically when the first period bell rings. Outside visitors will then be required to use the intercom system to speak to the main office staff. An intercom button and camera are located at the main entrance of all schools, and office staff will use the touchscreen video equipment to respond to requests for entry during the school day. Visitors will need to use the intercom box to notify main office staff of their arrival to the school before staff will unlock the doors for entry. The system does not lock or unlock any interior doors in schools, including classroom doors, but controls specified access areas to the main building.

Staff members will receive access badges to use during the school day when the system is active. Additionally, schools will also have access badges to use as student hall passes for restroom purposes, for travel to and from the school building to trailer classroom areas and for use at any time during the bell schedule when the system is active.

The system is an enhanced security feature for all schools, centers and buildings and was piloted at three elementary schools – Berry, Dr. Thomas L. Higdon and Mary H. Matula – last school year. Electrical Automation Services, Inc. is finalizing the installation this week. Cost of the security upgrade is $1.178 million, of which more than half of the cost, $659,000, was funded by the state.
Contact your child’s school with any specific questions about the new entry system change.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

School system prepares to open schools on Aug. 25

The 2014-15 school year officially begins on Monday, Aug. 25 for students in grades kindergarten through 12. Charles County Public Schools expects to welcome more than 26,500 students this school year. Students enrolled in the prekindergarten and three-year-old programs start back on Tuesday, Sept. 9. Charles County Public Schools staff and teachers are preparing for the start of another school year and are finalizing services and programs for students and parents.

Bus hotline
The school system is sponsoring a bus hotline for parents to call with questions about bus routes. The hotline can be reached at 301-932-6655, and is only available on Aug. 21-22 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Aug. 25-26 from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Parents can access bus route information through the School Locator feature available on the CCPS website at http://schoollocator.ccboe.com/.

Opening of county’s seventh high school
Opening on Aug. 25 is St. Charles High School, the county’s seventh public high school, located off of Piney Church Road in Waldorf. St. Charles also houses the James E. Richmond Science Center, which includes Science on a Sphere and digital classroom technology. St. Charles is hosting a public open house event on Saturday, Sept. 6 from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. Tours of the school, including the Science Center, will be held every hour for a maximum of 180 guests at a time. Visit http://www.ccboe.com/sciencecenter/ for more details.

Changes in start and end times for three schools/Gwynn Center
The start and end times for three schools, as well as the F.B. Gwynn Educational Center, have changed for the coming school year. The changes are necessary to provide additional instructional time for students and to accommodate the opening of St. Charles. Affected schools are Berry Elementary School, and Theodore G. Davis and Mattawoman middle schools. Berry’s new hours are 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Davis’ times are 8:50 a.m. to 3:20 p.m.; and Mattawoman’s new hours are 8:25 a.m. to 2:55 p.m. The F.B. Gwynn Center is open from 9:15 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. The Charles County Public Schools 2014-15 Parent Handbook/Calendar reflects the changes.

Orientation events for schoolsAll schools are hosting orientations this week for new and returning students. A complete list is posted under the Charles County Public Schools press releases section at http://www.ccboe.com/pr/student-orientations-planned-for-schools-2/. Contact the specific school for additional information.

Testing changes
The 2014-15 school year is Charles County Public Schools first year that the new Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) will be administered in reading and mathematics for students in grades 3-11. PARCC is administered during two different windows during the school year. Additional information on PARCC testing is available on page 16 of the Charles County Public Schools 2014-15 Parent Handbook/Calendar.

Lunch prices increase by $.10
Lunch prices for all students increased by $.10 this school year. There is no change in the cost of breakfast for students this year. For elementary school students, lunch is $2.45 and breakfast is $1.25. For middle and high school students, lunch is $2.70 and breakfast is $1.40. Menus are available at all schools, and on the CCPS website at http://www.ccboe.com/meals/meals.php. The school system uses a cafeteria prepayment system called MyPaymentsPlus, which is a secure, Internet-based system that allows parents to deposit funds electronically on their child’s cafeteria account. Visit https://mypaymentsplus.com/default.aspx for more information.

New building entry system
The school system is launching a new entry system at all schools, centers and buildings this school year that changes how visitors, students and staff enter the facility. The system is intercom and video-based and is being programmed to match the bell schedules at each individual school. Most schools will begin use of the system when schools open on Monday, Aug. 25. Additional information about the new system is posted on the CCPS website at: http://www.ccboe.com/pr/system-launches-new-building-entry-system/.

2014-15 Parent Handbook/Calendar
Students and staff will receive a copy of the 2014-15 Parent Handbook/Calendar during the first week of school. The calendar is available on the Charles County Public Schools website at http://www.ccboe.com/calendar/201415calendar.pdf. Requests for additional copies will be honored the first week of September.

We Care program kick-off
School resource officers at each of Charles County’s seven public high schools are helping to launch the “We Care” program on Friday, Aug. 29. The program is a safe driving initiative for teens by teens with guidance from the Charles County Sheriff’s Office and CCPS. Police officers will be on hand at each high school Aug. 29 to distribute safety flyers to all student drivers.

We Care was officially launched seven years ago following a series of car crashes that took the lives of nine teenagers in Charles County.  The campaign continues to engage students in conversation about safe driving while promoting safety through a series of checkpoints in school parking lots and other activities.

System partnership with Code.org
Charles County Public Schools launched a partnership with Code.org earlier this year that infuses computer science concepts into curriculum for students in grades kindergarten through 12. Over the summer, more than 75 teachers were trained through Code.org on how to tie computer coding into lessons about English, mathematics and science, as well as other content areas. Additional training will be offered by Code.org to CCPS teachers this school year. Charles County Public Schools is one of only two Maryland counties to partner with Code.org. Visit https://code.org/ for more information.

St. Charles/Science Center offering tours on Sept. 6

St. Charles High School is offering free tours of the school and the James E. Richmond Science Center on Sept. 6 to provide the public a chance to see Charles County Public Schools newest high school.

Principal Richard Conley says one-hour tours will be held beginning at 12:30 p.m. Due to capacity restrictions in the digital classroom, each tour will be limited to the first 180 people arriving for each time slot. Tours will begin promptly at 12:30 p.m., 1:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.
St. Charles High School staff members will host the tours and are excited to share the design and the educational and instructional components at the 1,600-capacity high school that opens Aug. 25 with grades 9 through 11.

Following the school tour, visitors will enter the James E. Richmond Science Center where staff will provide presentations of the digital classroom and Science on a Sphere. Staff will also share previews of upcoming shows.
Later in the evening,
the public is invited to observe the Moon up close at the center’s Science on a Sphere and tour the moon in the digital classroom. Events are part of the International Observe the Moon Night, which begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are $8 and group discounts are available. Activities include a Flight to the Moon movie in the digital dome; lunar missions and landing sites on Science On a Sphere; a rocket discovery lab; telescopes outside to view the moon and more. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit http://www.ccboe.com/sciencecenter/.

Charles County Public Schools provides 26,500 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 35 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Notes from Board of Education, 8/12/14

The Board of Education Meeting on Tuesday, August 12 will be re-broadcast on Comcast Channel 96, Verizon FIOS Channel 12 and is available via webstream at http://www.ccboe.com/ . To view the full agenda and the various reports, please visit BoardDocs.

The below notes are my personal notes and are not intended to be all-inclusive or official minutes for the Board of Education meetings and are provided as a request from my supporters and the general public in a personal effort to be more transparent. Although I have diligently tried to make these notes as unbiased and accurate as possible, I am only human and do make mistakes.

Executive Session – 10 a.m.

Call to order – 12 p.m. Pledge of Allegiance

Superintendent’s update - See report

Correspondence/Board member updates

  • Wise - St. Charles HS, science on a sphere, amazing and WOW
Education Association of Charles County update - See Report

American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees update
  • Also wowed by the opening of St. Charles HS
  • Kudos to building service personnel
Student Board Member update - See Report

Athletic eligibility GPA for 2015-16 school year - See Report
  • eligibility information will be included on report cards
  • Also will be enforced for ALL extra-curricular activities
Summer meals program
  • 2013= 6,800 meals     2014 = 15,000 meals   123%
  • Attributed to early start in planning, hot meals at stationary sites, consolidated mobile sites and moved to lunch friendly times, improved marketing and publicity to target groups.
CCPS on the Go & Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program update - See Report
  • Rollout to community on October 1 with 7 sections
  • December - survey 4 parents for needs to increase sections.
CIP update - See Report

Lifelong Learning Center update

FY 2015 CIP state and local CIP program - See Report

Summer overview
  • revised and change writing curriculum
  • new keyboarding program for all elementary
Policy 5161.1 - See Report

Recurring resolutions: American Education Week; American Freedom Week; African-American History Month; Gifted and Talented Education Month; Career and Technology Education Month; National School Counseling Week; Read Across America; Women’s History Month; Fine and Performing Arts Month; Month of the Young Child; National Student Leadership Week; Teacher Appreciation Week; Administrative Professionals Week; Child Nutrition Employee Appreciation Week; National Physical Education and Sport Week; Washington Post Distinguished Educational Leader; Charles County Teacher of the Year; Employee’s Retirement; and Washington Post Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teacher Award.

Unfinished business
  • Revisit board goals and objectives
  • Prepare and revise new board member handbook
  • Prepare Superintendents Goals and evaluation
New business - Part-time daily and hourly wage rate

Motion to accept the Minutes by Pedersen; Second by Lukas
Yes = Abell, Lukas, Pedersen, Wise  Absent = Bowie, Cook
 
Future agenda items
  • Lukas - GWWO facility meeting; wants to revisit some of our budget cuts. 
  • Balides - recommendation is to wait until October after enrollments news.
Public Forum – 3:30 p.m. 

Action items   
  • Minutes
Motion to accept the Minutes by Pedersen; Second by Abell
Yes = Abell, Lukas, Pedersen, Wise  Absent = Bowie, Cook
  • Personnel
Motion to accept Personnel by Abell; Second by Lukas
Yes = Abell, Lukas, Pedersen, Wise  Absent = Bowie, Cook

Adjournment