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

Monday, August 11, 2014

REMINDER: Board of Education Meeting, August 11

The Board of Education’s next monthly meeting is Tuesday, August 12, at the Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building on Radio Station Road in La Plata. The public portion of the meeting begins at 12 p.m. and Public Forum is at 3:30 p.m. All Board meetings are televised live on Comcast Channel 96 and Verizon FiOS Channel 12, and rebroadcast throughout the week. Viewing schedules are available on the Charles County Public Schools website at www.ccboe.com.

Executive Session – 10 a.m.
Call to order – 12 p.m. Pledge of Allegiance

Superintendent’s update

Reports of officers/boards/committees
  • Correspondence/Board member updates
  • Education Association of Charles County update
  • American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees update
  • Student Board Member update
  • Athletic eligibility GPA for 2015-16 school year
  • Summer meals program
  • Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program update
  • CCPS on the Go update
  • CIP update
  • Lifelong Learning Center update
  • FY 2015 CIP state and local CIP program
  • Summer overview
  • Policy 5161.1
  • 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

New business and future agenda items
  • New business - Part-time daily and hourly wage rate
  • Future agenda items
Public Forum – 3:30 p.m. 

Action items   
  • Minutes
  • Personnel
Adjournment

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Out or In?

Teachers May Not Want To Reduce Number Of Out-Of-School Suspensions, Survey Suggests

The Huffington Post
By:  Rebecca Klein
7/31/14


Many school superintendents say they want to reduce the numbers of school suspensions for students, but teachers may be standing in their way.

A new survey out this week from The School Superintendents Association, in collaboration with the Children’s Defense Fund, takes a look at how district leaders feel about school discipline practices. The survey solicited information from 500 school superintendents across the country who work in districts of differing sizes and varying student populations.

According to the survey, about half of superintendents said they strongly want to reduce expulsions and out-of-school suspensions (OSS) during their time in leadership. However, if they were to take official action in doing so, 72 percent would expect pushback from teachers and 57 percent would expect opposition from principals. At the same time, a majority of superintendents said they would expect support from parents and students.

The survey comes months after the Obama administration issued guidelines to reduce unfair suspension practices that disproportionately impact minority students and discouraged districts from employing zero-tolerance discipline policies that perpetuate the school-to-prison pipeline.

“A routine school disciplinary infraction should land a student in the principal’s office, not in a police precinct,” Attorney General Eric Holder said at the time, according to PBS.

Read more HERE.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

How Did Maryland Fare?

These Are The States With The Best And Worst School Systems, According To New Rankings

The Huffington Post
By:  Rebecca Klein

     
A new education ranking released this week found that students in New Jersey are receiving a much better education than students in Mississippi.

The ranking, from the personal finance site Wallethub, outlines the best and worst states for K-12 education, given the connection between one's education and future earning potential. The ranking was based on 12 factors, including student dropout rate, pupil/teacher ratio, test scores, rates of bullying and school safety measures.

The top scorers were New Jersey, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and then Kansas. The site dubbed the areas with the worst school systems as Nevada, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and, lastly, the District of Columbia.

 

 The report also looked at which states are spending the most on education, and in turn, have the highest-quality school systems.

Read more HERE and find out how other states ranked. 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

With Friends Like These...

Bobby Jindal Sued By His Allies Over Common Core
Huffington Post
By:                                          
July 22, 2014

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) speaks during a news conference about his efforts to remove Louisiana from tests associated with the Common Core education standards on Wednesday, June 18, 2014, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
(AP Photo/Melinda Deslatte) | ASSOCIATED PRESS

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) spent Tuesday fending off a legal attack from his allies.

Two years ago, Jindal visited a charter school operated by the Choice Foundation, a nonprofit organization that manages a chain of charter schools in Louisiana. Jindal was there to announce his support for the Common Core State Standards. As Jim Swanson, chair of the Choice Foundation schools, remembers it, Jindal praised the package of learning benchmarks as state-of-the-art.

Since then, Jindal has changed his mind, demanding that Louisiana drop the Common Core and suspending the state's contracts with testing vendors who create Common Core tests.

Now, Swanson is joining a group of parents and teachers to sue Jindal for trying to reverse his state's adoption of the standards. "This action by him has had an incredible practical effect on the education at our schools," Swanson said Tuesday during a conference call with reporters. "This action of throwing the system into disarray was a very irresponsible action."

The Common Core, a set of learning benchmarks in math and English language arts adopted by over 40 states, has recently become controversial, with tea party networks railing against what they see as intrusive federal overreach, and teachers' unions decrying what they call hobbled and rushed implementation.

On Tuesday, the Choice Foundation, together with a number of teachers and parents, filed suit against Jindal, claiming his executive actions on the Common Core -- specifically, his suspension of the testing contracts -- exceed his authority.

Read more HERE.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Drug-Use Statistics Trouble Those Looking to Curb Addiction

Risks Higher for State’s High School Students

Maryland Independent
by Nicole Clark Staff writer
July 23, 2014


Parents in Southern Maryland have continued to meet since two youth drug summits were held earlier this year, said DeForest Rathbone, a parent and grandfather who has been active in looking for solutions to curb addiction among students.

“All of them are telling the same story,” he said. It’s one of frustration when their children start taking drugs and the difficulty of trying to get youth sober and clean.

“Private programs are costly, and public programs are overwhelmed,” Rathbone said recently. “It’s a big dilemma, and I think that’s going to continue on indefinitely because of the number of kids in the pipeline who’ve already been exposed to drugs.”

Activists like Rathbone, along with community health and school leaders, are looking at data, recently released from the Centers for Disease Control, that offer some clues about what risks Maryland youth are experiencing — everything from getting enough physical activity and eating breakfast in the morning, to being raped or having drugs offered to them in school.

Only 16.9 percent of Maryland high-schoolers questioned said they were currently using tobacco, compared to 22.4 percent nationwide, according to the 2013 CDC Youth Risk Behavior Survey. But Marylanders in that age group reported using a list of other drugs at higher percentages than their peers across the country.

Read more HERE