Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

From my home to yours,
a very blessed Christmas,
happy holidays,
and a wish for a wonderful new year!

Get Myspace Christmas Countdown

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Inclement Weather Procedures

I get asked all the time, "how and when is delayed arrival or closing of schools occur?" Well, click HERE for some of your answers.

Notes from Board Meeting, 12/11/07

The televised Board Meeting will be replayed on Channel 96 on Wednesdays at 9:00 am and Sundays at 2:00 pm for your viewing enjoyment :)

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 - Use to be excited about Charles County . MSA scores proved a good system prior to moving here. System has been a disappointment. One child in elementary and one in middle school. Children not receiving a rigorous and challenging education. Expect order and discipline in classrooms. Expect more from school board and results not lip service

  • Male - More taxes but no new funds for school construction. Look at alternatives. Mentioned last months comments re two sessions at one high school. Address issues of overcrowding without building. Be a leader that you promised to be during your campaign and stop being led by administration

Action - Approval of Minutes

*Motion by Carrington, seconded by Pedersen to approve 11/13/07 minutes

Report – Superintendent – Jim Richmond (Given by Ron Cunningham)

  • View Report
  • Richmond keynote speaker at Public Services Summit held in Stockholm Sweden
  • Committed to doing whatever possible to promote safe driving on the part of our students
  • Middleton will meet with SGA's on Thursday to solicit input
  • Richmond meeting with CSM to discuss offering drivers education at schools after hours.
  • It's Academic competition
  • First JROTC Military Ball
  • Archery tournament, all-county concerts, regional art show
  • Parent @ School - will be adding a link to determine your school zones based on address
Correspondence/Board Member Updates
  • Pedersen - Legislative committee - CCPS $5.7M less than last year
Report – EACC – Bill Fisher
  • View Update
  • General Assembly (read report)
  • Extra pay for extracurricular activities committee
  • Myths & Facts about teachers pay

Report - Student Board Member - Ashin Shah

  • Meeting this Thursday. Coffey & Middleton attending to discuss teen driving issues
  • Upcoming conference @ Chopticon
  • Senior Prom Feb 29th @ Jaycees
  • ARC of Southern Maryland volunteer opportunities

Report - Deputy Superintendent - Ron Cunningham, Keith Grier - Student Services - Homeless Students

  • View Student Service Report
  • McKinney Vento Act is the federal law that governs the right of homeless students (enrollment without barriers, school of origin, transportation, free meals, supplies/materials)
  • Federal grant $23,000 in final year will be reapplied
  • 05/06 = 325 students; 06/07 = 341 students; 07/08 already at 221 and expect to exceed last years number
  • Attendance problems - Chronic problems identified by school. If results aren't positive, referral to Central Office. Goal is to identify causes for absences and prepare and implement a plan
  • Court Liaison - Mr. Sams (Juvenile court, Adolescent Drug Court, Children in Need of Assistance)
  • Reportable offenses - system notified by sheriff's and a meeting is held to determine if student is dangerous to themselves or others
  • Pedersen - homeless vs living with grandparents
  • Staff - certain questions you are allowed to asks and certain ones you cannot according to mandates
  • Pedersen - Safe Nights - do we work with them
  • Staff - yes rather closely
  • Bailey - documentation questions on immigrants
  • Staff - birth certificates, etc. One case at a time. We accept all students and then attempt to get birth certificates
  • Bailey - What if not a U.S. citizen
  • Staff - We still accept them and teach them
  • Shah - How are new to the system homeless students zoned
  • Staff - wherever they are currently located

Report – Special Education - Judy Estep

  • View Special Education Report (tons of information)
  • Requests a CCPS facility as opposed to High Roads; possibly transitional from residential non-public facility to regular school
  • Early Childhood Inclusion - again tons of information...see report
  • Abell - High Roads is "for profit"...why are we supporting them and providing so much assistance?
  • Dr. Holland - good question
  • Staff - They are our students and we want to support them and make sure they receive what they need. High Roads knows where and what they need to do.
  • Pedersen - Look forward to having these kids under our roof
  • Carrington - Look at budget and grants to get this started
  • Wise - send students all the way to Texas?
  • Staff - one student who wasn't accepted at facilities in Maryland or surrounding states

Report – Supporting Services (CIP)- Chuck Wineland, Steve Hagis, Jerry Barrett

  • See report CIP Update
  • Neal - 60% complete; open in August, turns over to principal in June
  • Somers 60% complete; finish in August
  • Craik - 95% complete; finish in January
  • IAC & Grasmick meeting 12/3
  • Pedersen - possibility of having two sessions at one high school...which high school would be the best location to implement
  • Wineland - Doesn't want to answer this question; defer to Cunningham
  • Cunningham - Doesn't want to identify any one high school and cause concerns
  • Bailey - economic ramifications
  • Abell - supports Pedersen; seeking alternatives needs to be addresses including dual sessions and year round schooling
  • See report Inclement Weather Procedures for details and procedures

Report - Budget - Paul Balides

  • View Report Budget Update
  • November financials. Right where we need to be

Report - Human Resources - Keith Hettel

  • See Report Drug/Alcohol Testing Program Policy #1, #2
  • Add/change policy 4821 to state the superintendent can implement drug and alcohol testing policy
  • Pedersen - # of employees needing drug testing annually
  • Hettel 2- 5 employees
  • Pedersen - Why adjustment to policy for low #'s
  • Hettel - Alcohol suspicion on the job but we cannot require testing
  • Wise - Independent lab used, same as bus drivers
  • Carrington - If work injury or accident, do we test?
  • Hettel - No
  • Abell - Hopefully we drive them to the lab and are the unions in agreement with this policy
  • Hettel - yes we drive them and EACC has concerns with outcome of tests and actions taken
  • Shah - Who orders testing
  • Hettel - Priniipal, follows a check list
  • Bailey - wording change in #1 to say and/or
  • Wise - # of counties implement
  • Hettel - quite a few: knows Carroll County does

Action - Personnel

*Motion by Wise, seconded by Carrington to approve Personnel

Action - Schematics on high school 2011

  • Bailey - Calvert County project only $57M. Staff comparison on square footage shows ours is actually cheaper per square foot.

*Motion by Pedersen, seconded by Wise to approve schematics on high school 2011

Action - Addition of Courses to Program of Studies

*Motion by Wise, seconded by Pedersen to approve addition of courses to program of studies

Unfinished Business

  • Cook - Community outreach initiative from MABE needs to be worked on
  • Abell - "What Counts"? Committee was formed in September
  • Pedersen - Blue Ribbon Commission - Diversity forum 2/16...8-2 @ CSM

New Business

  • Full Day Kindergarten Design Consultants (no electronic report provided)

*Motion by Carrington, seconded by Wise to approve full day kindergarten design consultants

Future Agenda Items

  • Wise - revisit board meeting time in January
  • Pedersen - firm understanding of rebroadcast times
  • Abell - Wednesdays at 9 am and Sundays at 2 pm
  • Abell - Update on Dual Enrollment discussions with CSM
  • Abell - review Board Benchmarks and Communication Goal set in 2005 due for annual review. suggested the possibility of having a board committee to review. Left to discretion of chairman.
  • Wade - wants a motion

*Motion by Abell to review board benchmarks and communication goal
No Second - No Vote

  • Wade - wants a more specific motion

*Motion by Abell, seconded by Bailey to review board benchmarks and communication goal as a committee
No Vote

  • Pedersen - What is Ms. Abell looking to change?
  • Abell - Not looking to change anything in particular. Part of the original motion that was passed in 2005 stated that we would review these annually and we have not done so. New board needs to review, change, or delete but it needs to come forward for that.
  • Wise - would prefer the whole board
  • Pedersen - review at the work session in January
  • Bailey - changing it to work session instead of committee he won't second it.

*Motion by Abell, seconded by Pedersen to review board benchmarks and communication goal during a work session

  • Carrington - financial literacy- stock market game...we are one of only 4 counties in the state not participating
  • Estep - we do participate in a stock market game, uncertain if its the same exact one
  • Bailey - Schedule a meeting for the board to discuss APFO subcommittee report


What School Am I Zoned For?

According to a report given by Deputy Superintendent Ron Cunningham on Tuesday, parents will soon be able to go to the Charles County Public Schools web-site, enter an address and find out what schools your address is zoned for. I know this has been suggested by some of my readers before and it is finally going to happen. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Don't Appoint Grasmick AGAIN!!!

Those words were heard loud and clear yesterday. The State Board of Education will be deciding whether to renew the four year term of Nancy Grasmick, Maryland State Superintendent of Schools. Many are opposed.

The two Democratic leaders of the Maryland General Assembly urged the State Board of Education yesterday to delay a decision about extending the tenure of Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick, who is locked in an ugly power struggle with Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) over her future.

The board, a majority of whose members were appointed by then-Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R), could appoint Grasmick to another four-year term as early as today. Grasmick's new term would start July 1, the day O'Malley will gain a majority of appointees on the board, whose 12 members serve staggered terms.

Read more HERE.

Friday, December 07, 2007

REMINDER: Board Meeting, 12/11/07

Just wanted to remind everyone there is a Board Meeting Tuesday, December 11th.
Can't can watch it live on Channel 96. It will also be re-broadcast on Wednesday at 9:00 am and Sunday at 2:00 pm.

3:30 - Executive Session
4:30 - Recognition
5:30 - Board Meeting begins
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:

Action Items:

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Weeding out the Bad Teachers

In Education Week, New York City Taps Lawyers to Weed Out Bad Teachers.

"An aggressive drive meant to weed out incompetent tenured teachers in New York City is under attack from the local teachers’ union and some teacher-quality advocates, who describe it as a “witch hunt.”

Read more HERE

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

AP Score Analysis

Okay...sorry it took so long but this was a difficult task. Below my ramblings here, you will see my overall analysis and observations by school and course, based on the information I could ascertain by begging, borrowing, and bribing for scores. If I don't mention a course, either it wasn't offered at that school or I was unable to conclude an analysis. Now to get other items out of the way.

  • I really don't understand, but I do accept, the "blanking" out of the scores for the public where students individual scores may be realized. However, to "blank" out the scores for the board members is absolutely ludicrous, especially when we have received the scores as confidential documents, unmodified, in previous years. This is definitely a hard pill to swallow. How am I as a board member suppose to make informed decisions or evaluate the superintendent on his performance if I don't know his performance? This brings to mind a case I've reviewed recently...King vs. Ambellan (just one of many on this same topic). Although this case was decided in New York, it does set a precedence, not to mention it is quoted in many, many other cases since. In this case, the majority of the board instructed the superintendent that the requesting board member be denied access to the records he requested involving a project funded by the school district. The requesting member sued for access, and the court granted him access.

"A member of a Board of Education has broad supervisory responsibility over the expenditure of district funds and the efficiency of the school system. He is elected to act upon behalf of the people and to do this he must have full information concerning the whole operation ....
The Court is of the opinion that the majority members of the Board of Education may not, by resolution or otherwise, restrict this right of every board member to be fully acquainted with the records and business of the district."

I'm still pondering this one.

  • Isn't it ironic that when it comes to AP scores it is stated "test scores aren't everything, it's the experience of taking the course" yet when it comes to HSA's and meeting AYP, test scores are EVERYTHING.


What can we conclude from this? Very little due to the lack of TOTAL information and we would need a couple of years to really show a trend. But here are my opinions.

  1. The disparity of courses offered amongst the high schools is vast. I would like to encourage and hope that we can utilize some of our new technology to offer courses, in danger of being cancelled due to low enrollment at one high school, via the television or web in order for all students to have the same opportunity.
  2. The percentage of AP enrollment actually tested has continued to creep up through the years. Yeah!!! We went from 87.4% last year to 88.8% this year.
  3. When enrollment went down, scores generally went up. I would think that if enrollment decreased and scores decreased...there might be a problem that needs further consideration.
  4. Some courses, across all high schools, went down in enrollment and scores. Big potential problem, possibly with the curriculum.
  5. Classes where enrollment increased and scores increased...kudos! Congratulations! Thank you! That's what we want. Students interested in the course and involved in active learning and retention of information.


  1. Calculus AB - tested down; scores down
  2. English Lang & Comp - tested up; scores down
  3. English Lit & Comp - tested avg.; scores up
  4. European History - tested down; scores avg.
  5. Music Theory - tested down; scores up
  6. Psychology - tested avg.;scores up
  7. US History - tested down; scores up


  1. Biology - tested up; scores up
  2. Calculus AB - tested up; scores down
  3. Chemistry - tested up; scores down
  4. English Lang & Comp - tested up; scores down
  5. English Lit & Comp - tested down.; scores down
  6. Environmental Science - tested down; scores down
  7. European History - tested avg; scores way down
  8. Govt. & Politics Comp - tested up; score down
  9. Govt. & Politics US - tested up; score down
  10. History of Art - tested up; score avg
  11. Music Theory - tested down; scores down
  12. Physics B - tested up; scores up


  1. Biology - tested up; scores up
  2. Calculus AB - tested down; scores up
  3. Chemistry - tested down; scores up
  4. English Lang & Comp - tested down; scores down
  5. English Lit & Comp - tested up.; scores down
  6. Environmental Science - tested down; scores down
  7. European History - tested down; scores avg
  8. Govt. & Politics Comp - tested up; score avg
  9. Govt. & Politics US - tested up; score up
  10. Music Theory - tested down; scores up
  11. Physics B - tested up; scores up
  12. Physics C Elec. & Magnet - tested way down; scores up
  13. Physics C Mechanics - tested way down; scores up
  14. Psychology - tested up; scores way down
  15. Spanish Language - tested way up; scores way down


  1. Biology - tested up; scores up
  2. Calculus AB - tested way up; scores avg
  3. Chemistry - tested up; scores way down
  4. English Lang & Comp - tested down; scores up
  5. English Lit & Comp - tested up.; scores down
  6. Environmental Science - tested up; scores down
  7. European History - tested up; scores down
  8. Human Geography - tested up; scores way down
  9. Music Theory - tested avg; scores down
  10. Physics B - tested up; scores down
  11. Psychology - tested avg; scores way down


  1. Biology - tested down; scores down
  2. Calculus AB - tested avg; scores down
  3. Chemistry - tested down; scores up
  4. Computer Science A - tested up; scores down
  5. English Lang & Comp - tested up; scores up
  6. English Lit & Comp - tested up.; scores down
  7. Environmental Science - tested down; scores down
  8. European History - tested down; scores down
  9. Govt. & Politics Comp - tested up; score up
  10. Govt. & Politics US - tested avg; score up
  11. History of Art - tested down; scores up
  12. Music Theory - tested down; scores up
  13. Psychology - tested up; scores up


  1. First year

Open Thread!

"Open Thread" is a place for you to tell me what you would like to see on this site. What can I do to make it more user-friendly, topics you would like to see discussed in the future, questions or concerns. So here you go, give me your feedback.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Effort to Limit Junk Food in Schools Faces Hurdles

According to the New York Times...

Federal lawmakers are considering the broadest effort ever to limit what children eat: a national ban on selling candy, sugary soda and salty, fatty food in school snack bars, vending machines and cafeteria lines.

Whether the measure, an amendment to the farm bill, can survive the convoluted politics that have bogged down that legislation in the Senate is one issue. Whether it can survive the battle among factions in the fight to improve school food is another.
Read more HERE

IMHO, we have come along way on the foods offered at school. Could more be done? Definitely. I also believe the current CCPS Policy is too strict and possibly misinterpreted the intent of the state (MSDE MOM #12 Guidelines) and federal (law 108-265, section June 30, 2004 Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004) rules and regulations. For example, some schools require adherence for ALL incoming foods, even those donated for special occasions. In other words, no cupcakes or ice cream sundaes for parties. Instead maybe we could do away with that greasy cafeteria pizza or those nasty frozen-fried chicken nuggets.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Proposed U.S. Rules on Bus Safety Draw Mixed Reactions

I know safety restraints on buses has been a hot topic for some of my readers and I came across this article on Education Week today. Evidently there has been a federal proposal by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration would require small school buses—those that weigh 10,000 pounds or less—to be equipped with lap-and-shoulder belts instead of just lap belts, as current rules require. Also, seat backs on all school buses would have to be raised to 24 inches, from 20 inches.

Read more HERE.