Thursday, May 31, 2007

Four Veteran Principals Will Be Missed

Four principals will be leaving CCPS at the end of the school year taking with them, 55 years of combined experience.

  • North Point High School - Peter Cevenini - A Charles County educator for 17 years will be pursuing a career with Cisco Systems as the K-12 education consultant for Internet Business Solutions Group. North Point houses the Cisco Networking Academy, which trains students in computer networking.
  • Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer Elementary School - Susan Fowler - Principal of Jenifer for 10 years, is retiring from Charles and has accepted a position as principal of Lexington Park Elementary School in St. Mary’s County
  • Benjamin Stoddert Middle School - Sylvia Lawson - CCPS for more than 20 years will become the vice principal at Patuxent High School in Lusby (Calvert County)
  • William A. Diggs Elementary School - Kristen Shields - CCPS for seven years will be returning to Pennsylvania, where she has been appointed principal at Latrobe Elementary School.

Interviews to fill the vacancies began in January, and Superintendent James E. Richmond will make his recommendations to the school board June 12 and 25. The board will then make a decision on who will fill the positions.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Chamber of Commerce - Education Committee

As a member of the Chamber of Commerce, I attended our monthly meeting of the Education Committee yesterday morning where the guest speakers were none other than Mr. Richmond and Ms. J. Estep and instructional staff. They gave a very informative presentation on high shool assessments and answered some of the committees questions and concerns. In closing the meeting, the atmosphere was very positive of future partnerships between the Charles County Public School system and the business community, with an emphasis on what we (the two of them) can do for our students and what CCPS can do to better prepare our students to enter the local business community. A future meeting was discussed but a date was not set.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

A History of Public Education

In Southern Maryland Living...

Maryland's public school system was officially born in 1865-during the same time that the Civil War ended, President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, and Congress amended the Constitution to abolish slavery.

In an extract from the Proceedings and Acts of the Maryland General Assembly in 1867 concerning education, the law states: "It shall be the duty of all teachers, in schools of every grade, to impress upon the minds of youth…the principles of piety and justice, loyalty and sacred regard for truth, love of their country, humanity and benevolence, sobriety, industry and chastity…."
Read the complete article HERE.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Why AP and IB Schools Soar

In the Washington Post...

By the late 1990s, California voters and the University of California regents had banned admission preferences for minorities in the UC system, and several members of the faculty at the University of California-San Diego were not happy about it. Scholars like Cecil Lytle, Bud Mehan and Peter Gourevitch thought public universities had been created to break down the old barriers of race, privilege and class and give the state's most disadvantaged students the life-changing advantages of a higher education. What could they do?

Find out HERE.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Supreme Court Rules on Education Lawsuits

Today in the New York Times...

The Supreme Court ruled today that parents of children with disabilities need not hire lawyers if they want to sue public school districts over their children’s special-education needs…

Read more HERE.

Blue Ribbon Commission on Diversity and Inter-Group Relations

UPDATE: Pam Pedersen, will be representing the Board of Education.
Members, including myself, were appointed tonight in the commissioners office. The focus of this group is on positively improving the racial and social climate in the area by gathering opinion; the review and exchange of ideas, the sharing of practical proposals and long-term visions from citizens at all levels. The group consists of 25 diverse, educated, caring residents of Charles County who will serve staggered terms for 2, 3, and 4 years. The first actual working meeting will take place June 27th at CSM where the group will work on goals and elect officers.

Cisco Education Day, 5/23/07

I had the pleasure of attending Cisco Education Day at North Point today and it as well attended by my fellow board members, commissioners, principals, staff, Dr. Grasmick, and numerous Cisco employees. A few highlights include...

  • CCPS was presented with Cisco's 21st Century School Award
  • Mr. Richmond was presented with a sextant for Outstanding Vision & Leadership
  • A presentation by Suzie Jones, Cisco Networking Academy Alumni

In addition a roundtable discussion with panelists: Supt. Richmond, Dr. Grasmick, Supt. Annie Wimbish (Hattiesburg Public School Distric), and Ken Kay (Partnership for 21st Century Skills, President).

A delicious lunch was prepared and served by the North Point Culinary Academy and Cisco, along with 21st Century Skills, made a presentation.

After lunch the entire group toured North Point and took part in a virtual tour of Matthew Henson.

Notes From Board Work Session, 5/21/07

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

Overview of Testing (J. Estep & staff)

  • Estep & staff gave a very informative presentation on the overall testing schedules for each grade and procedures.
  • Abell - Requested copies of the slides and also placement on BoardDocs.
  • Pedersen - How does staff evaluate themselves on the tests?
  • Eichel - The test are directly related to state tests. We also use an item analysis for each question.
  • Pedersen - Tests seem to focus on targeting the students in need of assistance; what about the above average or "gifted"?
  • Estep - Hopes each school would evaluate their data received from the tests and target those for advancement. Currently not a system in place to identify "gifted" students but should be forthcoming.

Out-of-County Tuition Fees (P. Balides)

  • Increase out of county by 10.6% ($6,415) and out of state by 11.5% ($10,555).
  • Additional charges and fees were presented for special education or students requiring additional services (see report)
  • 06-07 school year = 64 students (53 students; 11 special education)
  • Abell - Are the fees prorated for partial years
  • Balides - Yes
  • Is the fee and the proposed increase standard and average when compared to surrounding counties?
  • Balides - Yes
  • Pedersen - Do we have to accept the students?
  • Balides - Most we have to accept, i.e. foster care; judicial system

Out-of-County Tuition Fees (P. Balides)

  • Incorporates additional $1,976,400 funding
  • Budget reflects recent changes in state and local appropriations as of 5/18/07.
  • Local county appropriations increased by $1.8M and are allocated to address increases in health insurance, GASB 45, provide funding for a television studio and reallocate budgets to reflect current spending patterns.
  • County revenues were increased by 1.8M due to energy de-regulation funding and revised revenue estimates.
  • Final state funding allocations increased $151,400 from the proposed operating budget.
  • Total balanced operating budget is 282.1M, which is 11.4% over fiscal year 2007.
  • Food service operating budget includes a .20 cent price increase for meals.

Executive (Closed) Session

Saturday, May 19, 2007

REMINDER: Board Work Session, 5/21/07

Reminder....there is a Board Work Session immediately following student recognition at North Point on Monday, May 21.
5:00 - Closed Session (Board and staff only)
6:00 - Student Recognition
7:00 - Public Work Session

To view the full agenda and the various reports, please visit Board Docs.

Reports include:
Overview of Testing
Out-of-County Tuition Fees
FY 2008 Operating Budget
Draft Minutes of 5/8/07 Board Meeting

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Graduation Rates

The Washington Post had an article in today's Southern Maryland section titled Graduation Rates Called Into Question

A new online database of graduation rates indicates more than one in three high school students in St. Mary's County drop out, a major deviation from the county's 87.2 percent official graduation rate reported by the state.

Ouch! That hurt! CHarles and Calvert's deviations were minute compared to this. I also found the below articles at the Center for Public Education web-site. (Click on the title to read the complete article.)

Keeping kids in school: Lessons from research about preventing dropouts

In recent years, states have focused much attention on student achievement, but little on how many students ultimately leave school with a diploma in hand. This is changing: Nearly every governor has pledged to develop tougher ways to measure graduation rates at the same time that the No Child Left Behind Act has begun requiring states to hold schools and districts accountable for the results.

And this article, Dropouts: Myths v. Realities, was also interesting.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

BoE splitting up Hawkins Gate

In an article on the Baynet by Anna Dailey...

Five Hawkins Gate Road parents stood at the lectern last Tuesday in a final effort to convince the Charles County Board of Education (BoE) that including Hawkins Gate Road in the new Neal Elementary district was illogical and unreasonable.

Hawkins Gate resident Gail Jacobs expressed her disillusionment with the BoE. She called attention to the paltry number of her neighbors at the meeting as an indication of their feelings that the board doesn’t care about these children. She explained “[the board's] decisions have disillusioned many [Hawkins Gate] parents."

Read the complete article HERE.


In addition, Lynwood Jacobs sent a letter to the editor...

Well it's official! The Charles County School Board has declared the Hawkins Gate Road area as now a part of St. Charles and the greater Waldorf area!

Read the complete letter HERE.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Benefits of Going Direct

An article in the American School Board Journal, April Issue

Bypassing media gatekeepers and getting to your audience first is sound management, plus it beats the naysayers at their own game.

Read more HERE

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Board of Ed Only Pretends to Listen

La Plata, Charles County - 5/9/2007
Reader's letter on the BayNet
By Lisa McConnell

My husband and I were disgusted by the Charles County Board of Education after last Tuesday’s meeting. They could not give one single reason why Hawkins Gate was zoned. Not one. It's not closer, not cheaper, does not feed to Milton Sommers, is not located on a natural boundary, is not even in Waldorf. And the hearings are just a formality.

They don't want to set a precedent of public persuasion. Ms Cook accused us of being snobs about La Plata schools yet employees of Charles County Public Schools send their kids to Matula even though they are not zoned for it. We have heard 90 kids are attending Matula as an "exception". Why? Because CCPS employees can send their kids anywhere in the county. If all Charles County schools are quality schools, then why do they send them to Matula when they work at other elementary schools?

Ms Pedersen has a personal vendetta to make sure that everyone goes through what she went through with redistricting. She made that quite clear.

Ms Wise "claimed" the Matula principal advertised for a representative to serve on the redistricting committee-yet I never heard or saw any such notice. I didn't even know an elementary school was being built until 1-2 weeks before the redistricting plans were complete. My son's teacher lives on our street. CCPS would have had no problem locating a Hawkins Gate parent for the committee.

Except for Jennifer Abell, not one person on that board will get my vote next election. They are elected officials. We elect them to look out for our best interest-not to be afraid to speak their own minds. It seems like they had their minds made up and nothing we said was going to change that.

The Board said "that's the way it has always been in the past". I hate that statement. It is an ignorant statement. That statement is the reason things never change for the better. That statement is an excuse not to work.

Why do we have board members if things should never change? We could save a lot of money and just keep everything the same.

The rest of the Board picks on Jennifer Abell because they are afraid of the change she stands for. They are afraid of her blog, and they should be. Now people know where they stand. The whole redistricting process is flawed and corrupt; and Charles County will suffer because of it. But most importantly, the children will suffer. That makes me mad most of all.

Lisa McConnell
La Plata

EDITOR’S NOTE: Ms McConnell is referring to a recent decision by the Charles County Board of Education to include the 24 children living on Hawkins Gate Road, La Plata in the newly formed district for Neal Elementary, currently under construction. The parents of Hawkins Gate requested that their children be allowed to stay at Matula Elementary and provided facts to support their request. They voiced their request through email, public forums, and letters to the BoE. They even picketed the last BoE work session in April.

On Tuesday 8 May 2007, Members Jennifer Abell & Collins Bailey voted to allow Hawkins Gate to remain at Matula Elementary. Members Pam Pedersen, Maura Cook, Charles Carrington, Vice-Chair Bobbi Wise, Chairman Donald Wade and Student Board Member Andrew Van Woerkam all voted against. Hawkins Gate’s request was denied by a vote of 2 to 6 against.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Notes from Board Meeting 5/8/07

Sorry for the delay. Computer troubles :(

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

  • Male - Pleased with board involvement in NSBA, San Francisco, Germany visitors.
  • Female - LaPlata 10% of county growth. 100 seats given to LaPlata. Quotes other statistics on LaPlata, growth, new developments, etc. Against Hawkins Gate redistricting.
  • Female - parent visitation policy. Envision a child with limited communication skills. Write questions in communication book with no response. Has to pick-up child in the front office, no staff communication. Volunteers are in classrooms. Open doors for parents.
  • Female - against Hawkins Gate. Lost all respect for system. Told they are not "truly LaPlata residents." Base vote on conscience, not politics.
  • Male - Against Hawkins Gate redistricting. 90 students currently at Matula that reside outside of school zone. Please re look at Proposal A.
  • Male - Can't find anything positive out of this redistricting. Misinformation given by staff. Disappointed in Board if passed. Members have said in private they don't want to set a precedence.
  • Female - Parent, teacher, volunteer. Hawkins Gate Road. 8 year old son at Matula. Could not explain to him reasons for move. Because "they said so," sons response. No good reasons. Go back to drawing board.
Action - Approval of Minutes from 4/3/07 and 4/23/07

  • Abell - List of public forum comments should be added to the work session notes.
*Vote to approve minutes as amended

Correspondence/Board Member Updates

  • Wade, Wise, Cook– Briefed the public on the conference and chose their favorite session to discuss.
  • Abell - Stated she had given all her notes to the Board secretary for copy and disbursement to other Board members and they can also be found on her web-site.
Report – EACC – Bill Fisher

  • Happy Teacher Appreciation Day!
  • Negotiations complete and accepted.
  • Reported results from election of officers for EACC

Report - Student Board Member – Andrew VanWoerken

  • Reported results from elections
  • Farewells and plans for the future

Report – Superintendent – Jim Richmond

  • History AP hints were available on I-tunes
  • High school assessments coming up
  • CISCO Education Day
  • Walldorf Germany visit
  • Dedication of Diggs
  • Meeting with NASA, top astronomers, re new high school
  • Strengthen Math & Science through entire system.
  • Partnership with Pensa, Russia on live satellite feeds for classrooms
  • Abell - update on Tri-County Board meeting
  • Richmond - Supt.'s to get back with him after discussing with their boards

Report – Curriculum - Judy Estep & staff

  • New text book for 8th grade Social Studies
  • New text book for "Meeting the Middle" - middle school reading intervention
  • New text book for teaching program at the high school level
  • All books will be available for display at certain schools and at the Starkey building for 30-days
  • Wise - Questions on the teaching program, is it new? NO
  • Bailey - Social Studies book questions. History is interpretive. New history?
  • Pedersen - Is technology available with the text. YES.

Report – CIP - Chuck Wineland; Steve Hagis, Jerry Barrett

  • Davis MS on schedule to open 8/07
  • Abell - Gwynn Center Pool heating element
  • Richmond - trying to renovate entire school under special ed through state and federal grants.

Report – Budget – Paul Balides

  • See report
  • School system projects fund balance to be in the range of $3 - $5 million depending on expense factors. Used for support/start-up costs at Davis Middle School, television studio equipment, textbooks, school priority requests and various building maintenance projects.
  • Food Service Program Update -Price increased by .10 in February cut the expected deficit in half. Fund balance will help offset remainder. Possible price increase again for next year.

Action - Negotiations

*Vote to approve negotiated contract

Report - Technology Update - BJ Devakota

  • Electronic Gradebook Presentation & Discussion
  • Pedersen - Hopefully a future for system wide requirement

Report – Legislative – Eric Schwartz

  • Bridge to Excellence
  • Master Plan Updates will continue for the next two years
  • School construction 2009 $400M then drop to about $250M
  • HB619 - requires Supt. to notify the BOE of any criminal charges
  • Charter school bill never passed
  • Labor relations board bill did not pass

Action - Personnel

*Vote to personnel Package A

*Vote to personnel Package B
Yes - Bailey, Carrington, Cook, Pedersen, Wade, Wise
No - Abell

Action - 2008-2009 Calendar

*Vote to approve 2008 - 2009 Calendar

Action - Redistricting

  • Abell - Motioned seconded by Bailey to accept the Supt. recommendation (Package A) with the exception of Hawkins Gate Subdivision.
  • Bailey - Always support open enrollment. Board need to re look at process.
  • Abell - Contrary to fellow Board members opinion, does not believe it sets a precedence. Each vote and situation should be taken on a case by case basis
  • Carrington - Clarification of Case by case
  • Pedersen - Consistency among schools including redistricting
  • Wise - Committee was fair and came up with the same solution in both packages
  • Cook - A lot of angst. Only 27 students as opposed to 27,000 in system.
  • Abell - Consider the circumstances of each case, not past cases or future cases.
  • Bailey - kudos to fellow members. Best board in years.

*Vote to approve Package A with exception of Hawkins Gate
Yes - Abell, Bailey
No - Carrington, Cook, Pedersen, Wade, Wise

*Vote to approve Package A
Yes - Bailey, Carrington, Cook, Pedersen, Wade, Wise
No - Abell

Action - New Business

*Vote to approve architects for new schools

Future Agenda Items

  • Wise - next step for parent visitation policy?
  • Abell - asked for a sub committee to review and discuss public input; possibly break into two policies one for classroom observation and one for volunteering. Believes there is confusion with the one policy.
  • Wise motioned seconded by Cook to continue with the current visitation policy

*Vote to approve to continue with current visitation policy
Yes - Bailey, Carrington, Cook, Pedersen, Wade, Wise
No - Abell


Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Locks and Buzzers for School Visitors???

That is what awaits school visitors in Loudon County according to an article in the Washington Post today.

Like some others in the Washington area, Loudoun County schools soon will greet all visitors with something new: a locked front door, a video camera and a button-activated intercom to request entrance. Inside, office staff will screen the visitors and decide whom to buzz in.

The video intercom, common in apartment buildings around the world, is turning up increasingly in public schools. After the 1999 Columbine High School shootings and subsequent school tragedies, limiting access is a top concern for every school administrator.

Read more HERE.

Friday, May 04, 2007

REMINDER: Board Meeting, Tuesday, 5/8/07

Just wanted to remind everyone there is a Board Meeting Tuesday, May 8th.

4:30 - Student and Staff Recognition
5:30 - Closed Session (Board and staff only)
6:30 - Public Forum (Must sign-up prior to 6:30)
The remainder of the meeting immediately follows Public Forum

To view the full agenda and the various reports, please visit Board Docs.

Reports include:

  • Instruction Report - New text book review
  • Supporting Services Report - CIP Update
  • Finance Report - Budget Update
  • Attorney Report - Legislative Update
  • Technology Report - Update

Action Items:

  • Personnel
  • 2008 - 2009 Calendar
  • Redistricting Committee's Recommendation for Mary Burgess Neal Elementary School
  • Employee's Negotiated Agreement - Contract Signing

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Editorial: Parents Aren't the Enemy

In an Editorial on the BayNet...

One thing became quite apparent to me during Monday’s Board of Education parent visitation policy forum: Special Education Providers need to remember that parents are not the enemy. Parents are essential allies with educators in the battle to overcome disabilities.

Read more HERE.

Parents of School Board: "They're Tying Our Hands"

On the BayNet...

Matula Elementary families who live on Hawkins Gate Road picketed the recent Board of Education work session at the Starkey Administration Building. They hoped to convince the Board to let their children remain at Matula Elementary when the new Neal Elementary opens at the start of the 2008-2009 school year.

Read more HERE.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Lack of Posting

Just wanted to apologize for the lack of new posts this week. I've been really busy covering the March of Dimes WalkAmerica and promise to be back in full swimg after the 8th of May.