Monday, November 27, 2006

Legislative Breakfast Notes 11/27/06

Since official Board of Education Meeting Minutes are generally not available to the public for at least one month folowing a meeting, I will be posting my notes here for the public to review. These are my personal notes and are not intended to be all-inclusive or official minutes for the BOE meetings. Although I have diligently tried to make these notes as accurate as possible, I am only human and do make mistakes. Please follow-up for official minutes upon approval.

For a copy of the Board of Education Legislative Issues Packet, please go to:
Go to the meeting of 10/10/06; look under New business (Stand on your head and count to 10) :)

Board of Education – Bailey, Abell, Cook, Pederson, Wise, Coggins Marshall, Carrington, Wade (late)
BOE Staff – Wineland, Estep, Richmond, O’Malley-Simpson, Stubblefield, Hettel, Schwartz, Cunningham, Balides (late)
Commissioners - Cooper, Patterson, Collins, Graves
C.C. Government Staff – Fink, Eicholtz, Voehl
Delegates – Jameson, Levy
Pages – Frazee, Coombs, Coggins III
Media – Rabe (MDIND)

Jameson – foresee structural deficit. Will try not to cut funding for education and school construction and renovation.

Levy – state general fund helps fund education like Thorton. Doesn’t think education or Thorton is going to be cut in 07. Maybe not in 08. Probably in 09. Risky. 1+ billion shortage. Suggests we (BOE) should look at funding sources. Mindful spending. Push forward with construction. Suggests having finance people from BOE call him and review finances.

Wineland – compounding of state overlapping payments & stretching them out causes funding problems. Build seats or renovate; can’t do both.

Levy – Housing market has dropped nationally 7%. County 21%.

Cooper – Commissioners proposed increasing the excise tax for the state formula. 3% increase. DRRA – builders having trouble paying because market has slowed down. Caution overfunding.

Abell – Is it feasible to obtain any kind of funding on on resales? Don’t have current figures here but a lot of the students entering the system are from resales not new construction.

Cunningham – 06-07 school year had a student turnover of 3,300. 217 student net gain.

Cooper – Not looking at resales now but possible in the future for school renovation cost. Not enough profit for new schools.

Patterson – Teacher housing – offer incentives to home owners to rent to teachers. Keys for Employees program. Commissioners have adopted program. BOE unaware. Hettel to prepare presentation for Board.

Cooper – Is there any one issue more important than the others?
Bailey – Teacher retirement legislation that allows them to stay in county and teach with out losing retirement benefits.

Wise – Wants Hope Scholarship reinstated.

Abell – Hope Scholarship – Didn’t Erlich replace it with an equally advantageous program?

Levy – No

Jameson – No

Hettel – No

Levy – financing a program similar to the Hope Scholarship is similar to the budgeting and financing of a pension fund.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Arts in the Schools Paint Masterpiece: Higher Scores

In an era when school arts programs often have been considered expendable as budgets were tightened, the first comprehensive study of the effects of such instruction shows a statistical rise in student achievement, especially among low-income students.
The study found that art programs have a dramatic influence on elementary and high school students’ performance—not just in painting a still life or playing the trombone but also in standardized test scores. The study looked at programs across the country, including one currently used in 30 Chicago public schools.
"The people who run our schools have been looking for some hard evidence that what happens in arts classes impacts on learning. Well, here it is," said Dick Deasy, director of the Arts Education Partnership, a sponsor of the study along with the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities.
James Catterall, a UCLA professor and co-author of the report, found that, "high arts participation makes a more significant difference to students from low-income backgrounds than for high-income students."
For the complete article

Monday, November 20, 2006

New High School to be SPACE & SCIENCE SCHOOL???

Charles County Technology Council - November General Members Meeting
Lunch & Learn with Guest Speaker Mr. James E. Richmond, Superintendent of Schools

DATE: Tuesday, November 28
TIME: 12pm-1:30pm
LOCATION: Charles County Chamber of Commerce, 101 Centennial Avenue, Suite A., La Plata, Maryland.
COST: $10 members; $15 guests
RSVP: RSVP by Wednesday, November 22 (see below)

Please be our guest at CCTC's Annual General Members Meeting/Lunch & Learn. Our speaker for the event is Mr. James E. Richmond, Superintendent of Schools for Charles County. Mr. Richmond will talk about Charles County's next high school, which will focus on Space and Science.

Legislative Breakfast, November 27

The Board of Education (current and newly elected apply to all positions) will be meeting with delegates and commissioners on Monday, November 27 at 7:30 am at the Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building for their annual legislative breakfast. The breakfast is for all official participants but the media and public are invited to attend to observe and listen to the dialog.

Saturday, November 18, 2006


Ms. Margaret Young has filed an official complaint to the Open Meetings Compliance Board against the Board of Education regarding a variety of concerns including discussions amongst Board members that took place behind closed doors on August 8, 2006, the Boards failure to record executive session official minutes, and evasive "boilerplate" language on public minutes regarding executive session agenda topics.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Televising Board of Education Meetings: In the Legal Notices of the Indy??

Okay, I think everyone knows the story but just in case, here is a little history...Abell and Young are on a mission to televise Board meetings (gasp!) in an effort to be transparent and make the public fully aware of all decisions and discussions. The Superintendent, Mr. James Richmond, has recommended NOT televising the meetings and will only put his endorsement on the project after we spend thousands of dollars to "do it right". (We currently can video tape football games and other special events and air them on our station at whim.) The remaining five Board members CONTINUOUSLY VOTE AGAINST televising the meetings.

Now for the next chapter.

I open todays Indy and for some odd reason I am compelled to read the legal notices. (I have never in my life ever read these.) Call it divine intervention... Low and behold CCPS is in the legal notices. INDY. CCPS, contrary to the majority vote of the Board, is evidently requesting RFP's (bids) for a television studio and control room for staff at central office!?! You must read the above link. I am completely befuddled. the bottom it says "By Order of the Board of Education of Charles County." What the heck?

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Meet The Author

Robert Westfield, a former Henry E. Lackey High School student and recently published author, will be available to meet and greet the public on Sunday, November 19, 12-2 p.m., at the Brewhouse coffee shop in LaPlata. Charles County Public Schools arranged for the meet and greet, and encourage everyone to come out and show support for one of our successful former students.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Synopsis of Board Meeting, 11/14/06

Since official Board of Education Meeting Minutes are generally not available to the public for one month I will be posting my notes here for the public to review. These are my personal notes and are not intended to be all-inclusive or official minutes for the BOE meetings. Although I have diligently tried to make these notes as accurate as possible, I am only human and do make mistakes. Please follow-up for official minutes upon approval. For copies of printed reports presented visit

Public Forum

  1. Mitchell Elementary parent concerned about large class sizes. 1st grade classes of 27+. Only three 1st grade classes. Teacher problems giving individual students attention needed at this young age.
  2. Mitchell Elementary parent. Board meetings need to be moved to a more community friendly time. Concern of large class sizes. 30+ students in daughters 4th/5th grade math class. Principal promised 1 teachers aid per grade. Has not happened as of yet.
  3. Mitchell Elementary parent concerned with class sizes.
  4. Wants the next school named after his brother, Walter Melvin “Johnny” Johnson, Jr. Killed in action during WWII at age 19.
Action - Approval of Minutes from 10/10/06
Abell questioned why the table summary of votes was not included on the minutes. Per last months meeting it was requested to be included in the minutes in order for the Board to be in adherence to policy. Staff response was it would be forthcoming momentarily. (Did not receive by end of meeting.)
Yes=Coggins, Crawford, Marshall, Young, Wade; No=None;Abstain=Abell;Bailey=no vote

Correspondance/Board Member Updates

  • Coggins relayed information on meetings he's attended as well as upcoming seminars and meetings that might be of interst to other Board members.
  • Crawford emotionally spoke about his tenure and experience on the Board.
  • Young relayed comments she received from teachers regarding the new elementary math program. i.e. - lack of supplies, premature introduction of abstract ideas, willingness to give the program additonal time, etc.
  • Young relayed concern over increase in emails from parents feeling as though CCPS is "pushing" them out of their child's school experience.
  • Marshall was adamant that he did not like Young's comments and asked for her to continue at the end of the meeting.

Later resumed

  • Young requested concern over the use of social security numbers within the school system.
  • Young relayed concern over the Drama department at oneof the high schools. The teacher has lost her official office space due to overcrowding issues and is now located in the boys dressing room. The boys and girls are now forced to share one dressing room.
  • Young relayed concern over comments she hear at the Economic Development Summit regarding the new high school. Seems as though it is a done deal for it to be a space school.
  • Young expressed concern over Board members lack of access to Executive Session notes/minutes ad they how they are not approved by the Board. She has filed a complaint with the Open Meetings Act Compliance Board.
Report - EACC
Collecting data via survey regarding teacher workload and testing. Reviewed festivities for American Education Week. Welcome and farewells to Board members.

Report - Student Board Member
CCASC Meetings. Legislative positions discussed amongst members. Pursuit of voting rights for student members. Upcoming Legislative Conference to be hosted at North Point and video played.

Report - Superintendent
Charles County is one out of five counties in the state with NO schools on state improvement list. Redistricting committee for next elementary school has begum meeting. Student Recognition will take place 11/27 at North Point. American Freedom Week festivities. School Safety flyer provided by Sheriff's Office will be provided to PTA/PTO/PTSO's. SAT/ACT/AP consultant (Kregar) has made a history CD to be provided to students and aired on the CCPS station. Additional subjects will be made as time and funds permit. Young stated she had tried to locate Kegar at Central Office and could not. Staff stated he is located in New Jersey. Young requested staff consider using different colored badges for contractors/consultants etc.

Report - Deputy Superintendent
Student enrollment numbers are up 217 students fromlast year.
  • 26,623 total count
  • 3,303 first time to Charles County public schools
  • 1,354 first time in school
  • 1,037 from other counties
  • 558 from other states
  • 52 from other countries
  • 284 from private schools
  • 218 from home schools

Report - CIP

  • North Point students from construction related classes are receiving tours of Davis Middle School throughout the construction phase for on-site training.
  • Soccer fields at Lackey are complete and will be available for play by fall 07
  • Diggs playground is complete
  • Smallwood is undergoing boiler replacement
  • North Point is having an underground sprinkler system installed
  • State report from IAC should be forthcoming
  • Abell questioned the portable classroom report which states there are two portables at Craik. Abell doesn't recall portables at Craik. Staff confirmed the report is correct.

Report - Curriculum Update - Adult Education
FY06 there were 224 graduates. (Please see the link above for complete report). All teachers in the program have degrees. Young asked if we are restricted by NCLB guidelines in this program. Staff response was negative. Young asked our GED success rate compared to other counties and states. Staff did not have that data.

Report - Budget
(Please see link above for complete report) Item of note was the Nutrition/Food Services Department is suffering due to high cost of freight and delivery charges in direct relation with rising gas prices.

Report - School Naming Committee
New elementary school to open in August 2008 on Piney Church road. (Please see the link above for the complete report.) Suggestions by committee: Piney Church Road Elementary School· Mary Keech Edelen Elementary School· Mary Burgess Neal Elementary School. Vote to be taken in December.

Report - Suggested Changes to Bylaws
(Please see link above for suggested changes). Bailey asked the attorney (Schwartz) for his legal advice on the proposed changes to the policies and bylaws. Schwartz advised that all changes to policies and bylaws remain on hold until the new Board is in office. Young motioned, seconded by Abell to move ahead with the proposed changes.

Yes=Abell, Young; No=Coggins, Crawford, Marshall, Wade;Abstain=None;Bailey=no vote

Action - Personnel
Yes=Abell, Coggins, Crawford, Marshall, Young, Wade; No=None;Bailey=no vote

Action - Month of the Young Child Resolution
Yes=Coggins, Crawford, Marshall, Wade; No=Young;Abstain=Abell;Bailey=no vote

Action - Salute to School Food and Nutrition Service Personnel Resolution
Yes=Coggins, Crawford, Marshall, Wade; No=Young;Abstain=Abell;Bailey=no vote

Unfinished Business

  • Young asked if date-stamping had been implemented on Board Doc as of yet. Staff response was they are still working on the logistics of it.
  • Young asked if the committee for the vision of the new high school had met yet. Staff stated they were in the process of identifying members at this time.
  • Young asked if the meeting between the Board and the Economics Development Commission had been set up as of yet. Staff response was negative.
  • Abell requested an update on the possibilty of audio tapes of Board meetings being broadcast on CCPS station. Staff response was negative.

New Business/Future Agenda Items

  • Abell relayed concern over the state nutrition guidelines and emails from parents concerning their enforcement during special occassions such as holiday parties. Abell requested the Board send a letter to MSDE requesting clarification on their policies and procedures and their pertinance to special occassions.

Yes=Abell, Young; No=Crawford, Marshall, Wade;Abstain=Coggins;Bailey=no vote

  • Abell relayed parent and teacher concern regarding foods sold in the school cafeteria and their lack of being within the policy guidelines. Abell cited numerous nutritional values of foods currently sold in the school cafeteria. Abell requested a review of the policy and a future staff report on food items available in the school cafeteria.

Yes=Abell, Young; No=Crawford, Marshall, Wade;Abstain=Coggins;Bailey=no vote

  • Abell relayed concern over the parent visitation policy and rules. The current restrictions are two 45 minute classroom observations per quarter. Abell's concern was now we are implementing block scheduling in some of our schools and the classes are longer than 45 minutes in duration. In addition, if a child is having difficulties in more than two subjects, the parents are unable to observe the other classes. Abell requested the Board review this policy. Chairman Bailey stated thatall policies are due for review on an annual basis and would defer this to the incoming Board in January.
  • Young requested the Board send a letter to the State Highway Administration requesting confirmation on the new high school site.

Yes=Abell, Young; No=Coggins, Crawford, Marshall, Wade;Abstain=None;Bailey=no vote

  • Young requested an update on the number of violent offenders at each school. Young relayed teachers concerns and fears regarding the number of students required to wear "ankle bracelets" by juvenile services/sheriff's department. Staff was uncertain if we have this data and will be getting back to us.
  • Young requested a meeting to gather public input on the vision for the new high school.

Yes=Abell, Young; No=Coggins, Crawford, Marshall, Wade;Abstain=None;Bailey=no vote

  • Young requested the counties NAEP test results. Staff is checking on this data to see if we have received as of yet.
  • Young requested a report on the new initiative for a 10-digit student identifier number, who has access and what information it contains. Staff could provide in update.

Yes=Abell, Young; No=Coggins, Crawford, Marshall, Wade;Abstain=None;Bailey=no vote

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Nancy Grasmick...No Plans on Leaving

O'Malley suggest that its time for Nancy Grasmick, state schools superintendent, to relinquish her office and provide Maryland schools a "fresh start". Grasmick vows to serve the last 20-months of her 4-year term. For the complete article,0,1286834.story?coll=bal-local-headlines

Sunday, November 12, 2006

REMINDER: Board Meeting Tuesday, 11/14/06

Just wanted to remind everyone there is a Board Meeting this Tuesday, November 14th at 1:00 pm. To see the full agenda please visit
A few highlights include:

  1. Curriculum Update - Adult Education - Did you know that approximately 20% of the adults in Charles County do not have a diploma. Based on 2000 census data the population increased 19% in the last decade, while the English as a Second Language population increased 65% during the same period. Click here to view the full report.
  2. School Naming Report - Naming of the new elementary school off Piney Church Road in Sheffield Neighborhood in Waldorf. Committees suggestions are · Piney Church Road Elementary School· Mary Keech Edelen Elementary School· Mary Burgess Neal Elementary School. ( Let me know what you think)
  3. Suggested changes to bylaws - Submitted by Margaret Young regarding policy's and minutes.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Thank you to all my supporters and to all the other candidates for being advocates for our children. My hope is that everyone remains very active in their commuity and their school system. Together we can make a difference!!!!