Friday, March 30, 2007

Board Debates Ethics of Blogging

If you are making your way to my site due to the article in today's Indy, WELCOME! Feel free to use this thread to comment and let me know how you feel. You can even leave comments anonymously :).
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Superintendent's Blog Too?

According to three articles by the American School Administrator's Association, some Superintendent's like to blog also. Check out these articles.

  1. Superintendent Pair Share Their Purpose for Blogging
  2. Blogging to My Advantage
  3. Blogging With the Doors Open

Thursday, March 29, 2007

School Schedules Part 5 - Full Day Kindergarten

The below post is the fifth and last post in a series dealing with alternatives to the traditional school calendar and school day. Beginning in the 2007/2008 school year, all Charles County Public Elementary Schools will offer full day kindergarten.

An article by the Center for Public Education...

Half-day kindergartens are still the norm. Only 12 states require that students attend kindergarten, although most states (41 and the District of Columbia) require that public schools offer a kindergarten program. State policies regarding kindergarten have not changed much in the past decade, with nine states requiring full-day programs (compared with 10 in 1995), 23 states requiring half-day programs, and 12 requiring either of the two (Cavell et al., 2005). Only nine states report no policy on the matter.

Reported Benefits

Children in full-day kindergarten classes learned more during the year in both reading and mathematics compared to those in half-day classes

Read more HERE.

The Education Legislation Lowdown

Below is some of the education legislation and their current status.

  • GEOGRAPHIC COST OF EDUCATION INDEX FOR SCHOOLS (Require that future budgets provide additional money for schools in areas with high cost of living) Stalled
  • TUITION FREEZE (Freeze tuition at public universities) Approved by both chambers and included in budget
  • SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION (Provide $400 million for school construction) Approved in House capital budget; pending in Senate budget
  • TUITION FOR ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS (Provide in-state tuition at public universities to immigrants who graduate from Maryland high schools) Approved in House
  • APOLOGY FOR SLAVERY (Express "profound regret" for Maryland's role in the slave trade) Approved by both chambers
  • TRUANCY (Prevent habitual truants from getting a learner's permit to drive) Different versions pass in House and Senate

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Blogging Board Members

I first learned of blogging at the National School Board Association Conference in Chicago last April. I was totally fascinated by the idea and attended a short session on the how-to's. What a wonderful way to reach out to the public. A couple of months after returning home, this site was up and running.

Click HERE to view an article published by the American School Board Journal in 2005 endorsing board member blogging.

I briefly searched for other blogging school board members and quickly discovered the following sites. Let me know if you find anymore.

School Schedules Part 4 - Accomodating Teenagers Sleep Cycles?

The below post is the fourth in a series dealing with alternatives to the traditional school calendar and school day. I have to admit when I first saw this topic I thought, "You have got to be kidding me. Systems actually implement this?" Tell me what you think.

An article by the Center for Public Education...

Some districts are adjusting high school start times in light of research suggesting that the sleep-wake cycle shifts during adolescence leads to teenagers’ natural tendency to fall asleep later and wake up later (Graham, 2000). A recent study from Northwestern University builds on this research, finding that high school students performed better later in the day than early in the morning, and most high school schedules contribute to sleep deprivation among students (Tonn, 2006).

Reported Benefits
  1. Improved attendance
  2. More alert students, less sleeping in class
  3. Less student-reported depression
  4. More efficient use of transportation

Read more HERE.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Notes from Board Work Session, 3/26/07

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. Please follow-up for official minutes upon approval. For copies of printed reports presented visit Board Docs.

Public Forum

  • None

Code of Conduct

  • Wade – Current Code of Conduct (Policy 8140) needs some teeth in it
  • Abell – suggests we wait to hear the committee’s recommendation that was formed at the MABE training. Some new board members are seeing this Policy for the first time
  • Schwartz - No way to punish a Board member except removal from the Board and only the State Superintendent can do this. The Board can publicly announce it’s disapproval of a Board members actions
  • Wise – Wants to add punishments to the current policy
  • Pedersen – highly offended with the delusional duck website and regrets being involved during the campaign
  • Pedersen – is there attendance requirements for members.
  • Schwartz – no state requirements
  • Pedersen – clarification on “abides by the majority decision of the Board”. Not going to the press after the decision is made and speak negatively.
  • Schwartz – advises the Board Chairman – another form of “punishment” could be “overlooking” a certain member during meetings and NOT calling on that member for comments.
  • Carrington – Board members should be careful of comments made outside of Board meetings
  • Pedersen – As a Board member are we gagged and should only work through the Chair
  • Carrington – Thinks members should approach members with concerns one on one not in publicly
  • Wise – Thinks the stuff that goes on in meetings should not be put on blogs
  • Pederson – Requests direction from Schwartz on what is legal and what is not
  • Schwartz – We can’t control what people say. First amendment rights trump our Code of Conduct Policy. But…you can advise members to play by the rules of the Board or suffer the consequences from the other members
  • Bailey – Points out that we all ran on “open and transparent” and how is this is any different than televising.
  • Wise – extremely unethical to post the announcement of the Chair and Vice-Chair prior to the meeting being over.
  • Wade – unethical to use laptop computers for personal use.
  • Abell – NSBA and NEA endorse Board members and Superintendents blogging
  • Carrington – All in all blogging is okay but be respectful.

CIP (packages and documents handed out)

  • Letter to Dr. Lever re: Craik Roof/ RTU Replacement S/R
  • CCPS School Construction Costs
  • Revised FY 2008 state & local Capital Improvement Program (CIP)
  • Use of Facilities by Outside Organizations
  • Supporting Services Organizational Chart
  • Capital Improvements Program FY 2008
  • Education Facilities Master Plan FY 2007
  • Comprehensive Maintenance Plan FY 2007

* Vote - Wise motioned and seconded by Bailey to support the Superintendent’s recommendation on the CIP.
Yes – Abell, Bailey; Carrington,, Pederson, Wade; Wise

2008-2009 School Calendar

  • Teachers off for election day but on for veterans day
  • Winter break 12/22 – 1/2
  • Spring break 4/6 – 4/13
  • End of year for students – 6/10 (no snow) 6/16 (4 snow days)

New Business

  • Pederson – Legislative Committee Issue – House Bill 326 – Changing the hiring practices for speech pathologists and audiologists requiring master degrees

* Vote - Pederson motioned and seconded by Wise to send a letter to the delegation opposing this bill
Yes – Abell, Bailey; Carrington, Pederson, Wade; Wise


  • Pederson – What Counts Forum dates and location. Suggests 4/30, 5/7, 5/9, or 5/10
  • Wise – Members without Bachelors or Masters degrees should have stoles not hoods for graduation ceremonies.

Monday, March 26, 2007

School Schedules Part 3 - Four Day School Week

The below post is the third in a series of post dealing with alternatives to the traditional school calendar and school day.

An article by the Center for Public Education...

A scheduling strategy that has been adopted by some rural school districts is to drop the fifth day of instruction by adding time to the remaining four weekdays (Yarbrough and Gilman, 2006). A few hundred districts in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oregon, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Wyoming have implemented this schedule, primarily for fiscal reasons (cutting down on transportation costs). An unforeseen bonus is that the schedule has unexpected educational and morale benefits for both students and staff.

Documented Benefits
  1. Increased scores on all areas of the Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills for two consecutive years.
  2. Increased scores on the state assessment for two consecutive years.
  3. Decreased suspensions and code-of-conduct violations.
  4. Improved response to behavior management strategies for special education students with behavioral issues.
  5. Increased collaboration and planning among teachers, which in turn improved academic rigor and lesson preparation.
  6. More core content covered during the school year.
Read more HERE.

Friday, March 23, 2007

School Schedules Part 2 - Year Round Schools

The below post is the second in a series of post dealing with alternatives to the traditional school calendar and school day.

An article by the Center for Public Education...

Three Most Common Schedules

  1. 60–20 and 60–15: The year is divided into three 60-day sessions with three 20-day vacation periods. A variation on this schedule is the 60–15, which allows for an additional three–four week common vacation. As with most year-round schedules, this plan can be carried out using either a single-track or multi-track system. Together, these two types of calendars account for 37 percent of all year-round schools.
  2. 45–15 and 45–10: These schedules account for the largest portion of all year-round calendars (40 percent). In the 45–10 system, 45 days of instruction are followed by 15 days of vacation. The related 45–10 plan provides an additional four-week common vacation for staff and students. Again, either of these plans can be implemented in either a single-track or multi-track system.
  3. Concept 6: The year is divided into six terms of approximately 43 days. This plan is typically used as a three-track, year-round schedule to address overcrowding issues with students and teachers divided into three groups that attend two consecutive sessions and then have one session off. This pattern is repeated for a total of 172 instructional days. During the 1997–1998 school year, eight percent of year-round schools were following this plan.

Are year-round schools effective?

The answer seems to be a qualified “yes.”

For the complete article and statistics, click HERE.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Prayers Requested

Prayers and condolences are requested for the family of a young county youth, Ryan Simpson, who lost his life on Wednesday. May his family find comfort and healing in this most difficult time of grieving the lost of their child.

School Schedules Part 1 - Block vs. Period Scheduling

The below post is the first in a series of post dealing with alternatives to the traditional school calendar and school day. Charles County Public Schools currently uses block scheduling in an A/B pattern in most, if not all, of its middle schools.

An article by the Center for Public Education...

Types of block schedules

  1. The trimester plan: The school year is organized into three sessions (trimesters), with students attending two core classes per trimester. These core classes can be coupled with up to three other year-long elective classes. Students complete the core classes in 60 days and then move on to another two core classes.
  2. The 4x4 block: The school day is divided into four blocks, with classes lasting anywhere from 85 to 100 minutes with additional time for lunch and transitions. Students complete in one semester what would have taken them a full year in traditional schedules.
  3. The alternating plan (also known as the 8-block plan or the A/B plan): Using this format, students attend eight blocks of classes (again, typically 90 minutes long) over two days.
  4. The 75-75-30 plan: This scheduling plan is one in which students take three classes each for two 75-day terms, followed by a 30-day intensive course or enrichment program.

Benefits of block scheduling

  1. More time on task
  2. Depth and breadth
  3. More opportunities for planning and professional development
  4. Stronger adult-child relationships
  5. Studies indicate that discipline problems decrease (O’Neil, 1995; Freeman, 2001)

To view the complete article and statistics, click HERE.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Navigating Board Politics

In an article in the American School Board Journa this month...

Five veteran school board attorneys recently participated in a live audioconference sponsored by NSBA’s Council of School Attorneys. The session, titled “Navigating Board Politics: The School Attorney as Counselor at Law,” provided the backdrop for an insightful discussion about various issues routinely presented to school boards and their attorneys. The panelists’ comments, which were peppered with narrative responses and shared experiences, are summarized here.

Friday, March 16, 2007

No School, No Car Keys

...a tough warning issued to teenagers by Maryland lawmakers yesterday according to an article in the Washington Post.

The House of Delegates approved a bill that would deny driver's licenses to students with 10 or more unexcused absences in the previous calendar year. A similar measure passed the Senate Judiciary Committee late yesterday, and it appears to have wide support in the full chamber.

For the complete story, click HERE

Fair Share Fee

I've had a number of people approach me with questions regarding the Fair Share Representation Fee. Mr. Fisher, EACC, provided the Board with a wonderful document explaining the fee. You can view that document HERE.

Parent Visitation Policy - PUBLIC HEARING

Here's your chance parents, teachers, students and staff.

The Board of Education will hold a public hearing on Monday April 23 7:00 pm at the Starkey Building to gather input on the current parent visitation policy.

Rules for the forum.

  1. All speakers must sign the roster in the lobby in person.
  2. Speakers will be called in the order they signed up
  3. Speakers are allotted three minutes.
  4. Time may not be assigned from one speaker to another.
  5. Staff will be available to answer questions prior to the public hearing.
  6. Written comments will be accepted up until April 19, 2007, at the Starkey Building.

Board of Education & Commissioner Retreat

The Board of Education and the Comissioners will be meeting in a retreat at the Starkey Building on Tuesday, March 20th from 9:00 am - 6:00 pm and Wednesday, March 21st from 9:00 am - 2:00 pm. Items on the agenda include:


  • Team Building/Communication
  • Condition of Older Schools (aesthetics, maintenance, renovation, mechanical systems)
  • New School Construction (funding, feasibility/timing of reducing class size and elimination of relocatables, evaluation of new school cost)
  • Financial Outlook
  • Joint Technology
  • Benchmarks
  • New High School (Board of Education vision)


  • GASB 45
  • Workforce/Affordable Housing (affect on teachers)
  • Unfinished Business

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Notes From Board Meeting 3/13/07

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. Please follow-up for official minutes upon approval. For copies of printed reports presented visit Board Docs.

Public Forum

  • Gentleman spoke about the bus contracts and bus lots and negotiations

Action - Approval of Minutes from 2/13/07 and 2/26/07

*Vote to approve minutes

Correspondence/Board Member Updates

  • Abell – Motioned for public, staff, and EACC input during a public forum or town meeting regarding parent visitation policy and rules. Cook seconded motion. Some discussion

*Vote to hold a public forum to gather input regarding the parent visitation policy

Report – EACC – Bill Fisher

  • Read Aoss America success
  • FEA members went to San Diego, CA for conference
  • EACC members testified before a joint House Committee re: HSA's
  • Thank you for reinstating resolutions

Report - Student Board Member – Andrew VanWoerken

  • CCASC meeting – reviewed agenda
  • Senior Citizen Prom 3/23 6-9 pm @ Jaycees
  • MASC Convention 3/28-30th in Hagerstown

Report – Superintendent – Jim Richmond

  • Japan visitors
  • State Superintendent Meeting re: testing and the future of HSA
  • 5th Grade transition dinners
  • 1st live classroom exchange with Pensa, Russia in future

Report – Deputy Superintendent – Ron Cunningham

  • Feels positive about upcoming tests.
  • Visits to schools and student manners are outstanding

Report – Redistricting Committee Neal Elementary

  • Alternative A (pg. 15 of report) Matula –172; Ryon –118; Martin -17; Mitchell +17; Turner –153
  • Alternative B (pg. 16 of report) Matula –172; Ryon –89; Martin -17; Mitchell +17; Turner –153

Report – CIP - Wineland

  • Davis MS – 80% complete; finish in June
  • 20 year renovation plan is now over 1 billion $$
  • Pedersen – Craik roof; what happens if state denies funding
  • Wineland – discuss in private later
  • Further discussion about how to fund renovations and fund balance

Report - Technology Update

  • Demonstration of electronic notification and email notification per student, class, school, or system
  • Abell – Possibility of using other languages for families where English is not the primary languages
  • Capability is there. Will review and update later

Report – Curriculum - Judy Estep and Minnie Reynolds

  • MESA – Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement Overview. Students from Stoddert MESA team. Competition 3/26 and 3/27 at North Point HS
  • Indian Education Program – federally funded by Title VII grant – Office of Indian Education program moved from Bumpy Oak to building 102 in SY 06 because of (1) safe environment (2) CCPS mission (3) centrally located; officials from Office of Indian Education to visit 4/2007. Total grant $49,413

Report – Budget – Paul Balides

  • February Financial Reports
  • These reports will be available in update from now on

Report – Human Resources – Keith Hettel

  • Calendar for 08-09; Election day – teachers and safety concerns with in service day; winter break; discussion at March Work Session
  • Richmond – recommends for Presidential election year
  • March 19 First time home buyer seminar
  • June 2 Teacher Hiring Fair

Report – Legislative – Eric Schwartz

  • Bridge to Excellence currently fully funded. Possibility to be cut
  • $400M for school construction – probably cut over next years
  • #164 House Bill – Air Quality on relocateables. More expensive
  • #669 Senate Bill – Charter schools; MABE supports
  • Physical Education mandates. A lot of stress on school system
  • Truancy Bills – restrict drivers license of truant students and school boards would need to establish review boards
  • Labor relations
  • Master Plan mandates extended
  • House Bill 994 re: high school assessments
  • Schwartz suggests sending a letter to delegation in support of task force.
  • Discussion continued

* Vote to send a letter to delegation
Yes – Cook, Carrington, Wade, Wise
No – Abell, Bailey, Pedersen

Action – Personnel

* Vote to accept staff recommendations

Action – Policy Amendments

  • Abell – urged fellow Board members to consider this policy for future Boards not just the current one.

* Vote to accept staff recommendations
Yes – Bailey, Carrington, Cook, Pedersen, Wade, Wise
No - Abell

New Business & Future Agenda Items

  • Wise – reinstate resolutions; National School Counseling Week; Career and Technical Education Week, Health Careers Month, National Physical Education and Sport Week

* Vote to reinstate resolutions
Yes – Bailey, Carrington, Cook, Pedersen, Wade, Wise
No - Abell


Board of Education Determines Priorities

The Board members and CCPS staff met with a member of MABE (Maryland Association of Boards of Education) on March 8th for training session to help determine the Boards direction and priorities for the coming months. All Board members were asked to list their top three priorities and present them to the remaining members. We then voted on the list. The following were determined to be the top priorties, listed in order of importance and identified by the members who proposed:

  1. Teacher Recruitment and Retention (Abell, Cook, Pedersen, Wise)
  2. Code of Behavior of Board - Policy 8140 (Wise)
  3. Testing.Over-testing/Time on Test Prep (Abell, Pedersen, Wise)
  4. Gifted Education - more rigor (Cook)

Item #2, Code of Behavior of Board - a Board subcommittee was formed and tasked with bringing a proposal to the Board. Members of the committee are (Schwartz, Wise, Cook, Wade)

Other items brought forward by members include the following, listed in no particular order:

  1. Financial Literacy for Students (Carrington)
  2. School Construction and Maintenance Funding (Abell, Wise)
  3. AYP and HSA requirements (Wade)
  4. JROTC military ball (Wade)
  5. Increase student opportunities (Bailey)
  6. Strengthen & develop critical thinking skills in students (Bailey)
  7. Enhanced Science and History (Bailey)
  8. Open Communication with the Community (Pedersen)
  9. Non-County School Students (Cook)

Monday, March 12, 2007

REMINDER - Board Meeting Tuesday, March 13

Just wanted to remind everyone there is a Board Meeting Tuesday, March 13th at 1:00 pm. To view the full agenda and the various reports, please visit Board Docs.

Reports include:
Redistricting Committee's Report for Mary Burgess Neal Elementary School
MESA and Indian Education Update
School Calendar Recommendations for 08/09 School year
Technology Update

Actions include:
Policy Amendments

Monday, March 05, 2007

Take the Pressure Out of Standardized Tests

An excerpt from an article in the Calvert Recorder.

The High School Assessment regime as articulated up to this year is even more absurd. The HSA is a set of four tests, in English, algebra, government and biology, that all high school students, beginning with the class of 2009, must pass in order to receive a diploma.

This strikes us as the height of bureaucratic arrogance. It simply emasculates the local school system’s judgement on the most important question facing them: How well prepared are our students for work and higher education?

If we don’t trust our local educators to make this determination, what are we paying them for? And if we trust state-level bureaucrats more than our local folks to make these decisions, the most vital ones about our children’s futures, where is the groundswell of support for a state takeover of all school systems?...

Click here for the complete article.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Live Discussion on the Pros and Cons of Homework TODAY!

The Center for Public Education is hosting a live discussion today on the pros and cons of homework.

Homework has gone in and out of fashion since the 19th century. Does it help or hamper student learning? Do kids get too much or not enough?

Parents, teachers, and policymakers struggle with these and other questions about homework.

Get answers at the Center for Public Education's next live chat:

Homework: What is it Good For?
Thursday, March 1, 2007
2 p.m. EST

Find out what research says about the value of homework.

Submit questions now or during the session.