Monday, September 28, 2009

NOTES from BOE Work Session with Commissioners 9/28/09

The Board Meeting on Monday, September 28th will be re-broadcast on Channel 96 and is available via webstream at . To view the full agenda and the various reports, please visit BoardDocs.

The topic of this meeting was the new PROPOSED high school which I will be voting "NO" to unless things change drastically. The value engineering ORDERED by the commissioners has changed the design so drastically that the initial vision and purpose has been skewed. Yes the total cost has been reduced BUT whatthey don't tell you is that most of the reduction is due to the economy and the decrease in square footage construction. So if you were to take the initial design, we would still come out at about the same price.

In addition, not one of the commissioners can commit to finding a way to fund the operating cost of this new school. It will cost $18M one-time cost to open the doors of which they are willing to take $10M from the DRRA funds. (meaning we won't have the DRRA funds for the next elementary school which we would be submitting for planning in 2014). The annual operating costs is approx. $14.3M of which they have no idea where it will come from and won't commit to funding. They actually want us to open and operate this new school on our current budget. That is NOT being financially responsible and I cannot condone building this school when we don't know how we will pay for it.

Friday, September 25, 2009

REMINDER: Board Work Session, 9/28/09


The Board of Education's next work session is Monday, Sepetmber 28, at the Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building on Radio Station Road in La Plata. The public portion of the meeting begins at 6 p.m. with public forum. The meeting is televised live on Comcast Channel 96 and rebroadcast throughout the week. Program schedules for Channel 96 are available at . The agenda and reports can be found on BoardDocs.


6:00 - Public Forum

  • Discussion with Commissioners on their plans for funding the new high school, including operating costs

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Mr. Richmond and the Board of Education received a memo from the County Administrator, Ms. Rebecca B. Bridgett, stating the county would be confiscating the following funds from the FY2010 budget:

  1. $613,000 Capital Pay-Go Projects (maintenance)
  2. $321,000 Cable Funding (money provided through the franchise agreement with the county for the system to have cable access)

and it is still looking for more.

Vandalism at Brown Elementary

Vandals caused several thousands of dollars worth of damage to air handling units at Dr. Brown Elementary School last night between 3 and 4 a.m., and got up on the roof and tore open four of seven air handling units and ripped out switches and wires. The vandalism disabled the units and school system electricians are at the school working to repair the damage. Three smaller units are working and we are sending fans to the school in order to keep it operating today.

Police are investigating.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

School system, all high schools meet state benchmarks

Charles County Public Schools, for the second consecutive year, has met Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) as a system and at each level  elementary, middle and high school. Additionally, all six Charles County public high schools met AYP school performance benchmarks for 2009.

The Maryland State Department of Education released results Monday. The high school AYP is based on the results of grade 12 students' scores on the Maryland High School Assessments (HSA) and graduation rate. Information released Sept. 21 is only for high schools; the state released AYP data for middle and elementary schools in August.

AYP is the gain that schools, school systems, and states must make each year in the proportion of students achieving proficiency in reading and math. To make AYP, schools and school systems must improve in reading and mathematics for all students, as well as for nine student subgroups including each of five racial/ethnic groups, students receiving special education services, Limited English Proficiency services and Free and Reduced Meals services (FARMS). AYP also includes graduation rates for high school and attendance in elementary and middle school. A high school's AYP status is based on the highest student scores among all grade 12 students on the English and algebra/data analysis HSA scores, the school's participation rate in the assessments and its graduation rate.

"Students and staff continue to work toward meeting the rigorous goals set by the state and federal government. Education Week, the College Board and Newsweek all ranked Maryland education as number one in the nation, and I am proud of Charles County Public Schools, our students, teachers and staff who contribute to this extraordinary accomplishment," Superintendent James E. Richmond said. "Our students continue to make progress, and as with every round of testing results, we will take this information and use it to build upon our success and make improvement where needed."

The Maryland School Assessment (MSA) exams are given in the spring to third through eighth-grade students in reading and mathematics. High school students take the HSA in May.

Additional information may be found on the School Improvement in Maryland Web site at and the Maryland State Department of Education Web site at

Seniors meet state testing requirement

Charles County Public Schools' class of 2009 met the challenges of the new state High School Assessments (HSA) graduation requirement and increased its graduation rate, according to data released today by the Maryland State Department of Education.

No Charles County high school student failed to graduate solely because of the High School Assessments (HSA), which is a graduation requirement that took effect with the class of 2009. Other graduation requirements include student service learning and completion of a minimum of 23 credits as specified by law.

HSA data shows that of the 2,104 Charles County Public Schools graduating seniors, 100 percent met the HSA requirement with 1,537 students passing all four tests. Additionally, 404 students, or 19.1 percent, met the requirement by achieving a combined score of 1602 points across the four assessments. Another 7.7 percent, or 163 students, used the Bridge Plan for Academic Validation to pass the HSAs. No Charles County students received a waiver.

"Our high schools and instructional staff worked hard to track the progress of individual students and to provide a plan to help them be successful on the HSA. I commend each staff member for making sure our students graduated with their class," said Superintendent James E. Richmond.

The graduation rate also improved slightly in 2009, rising from 87.24 percent in 2008 to 88.26 percent.

HSA is a requirement for the Maryland High School Diploma, which started with the class of 2009. HSAs include algebra, English II, government and biology. The algebra and English II scores are also used as part of the Maryland School Assessment (MSA) and to determine Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) at the high school level. All six Charles County public high schools met AYP for the 2008-09 school year.

Newly released HSA data also shows that the class of 2010 is making progress toward meeting the graduation requirement. Already, 83.3 percent of the class of 2010 has met the HSA requirement, with 1,427 of 2,153 enrolled students passing all four tests, 359 scoring a 1602 composite score and seven completing Bridge Plan projects. These results are as of the May administration of the HSA, and do not include results of any students who completed Bridge projects over the summer. There are 360 seniors who still must meet the requirement. Many of these students have transferred to Charles County Public Schools and have not taken all the tests for various reasons. There are three additional opportunities for students to take or retake the tests this year. Richmond said he anticipates that once these students have completed all four exams, they will meet the HSA graduation requirement.

There are several ways that students can meet the rigorous HSA requirements. Students can pass all four tests outright; earn a combined score of 1602 on all four tests; or complete the Bridge Plan, which offers students who have not achieved passing scores on assessments an optional way to meet the HSA requirement. Students failing to pass an HSA can complete a single eight- to twelve-hour project for every twenty-one points they fall short of the passing score.

Students who have not passed the tests are being offered additional classes, support and program adjustments to help move them toward graduation.

All 2009 school and system data will be available on the updated Web site on Tuesday.

Doubts emerge as statewide tests keep just 11 from diploma

By Liz Bowie
Baltimore Sun
September 22, 2009

State education officials said Monday that only 11 students statewide did not graduate in June because of newly required tests, a number that seemed surprisingly low to those who had worried that thousands of students would fail to graduate.

The High School Assessment, which took effect with the Class of 2009, had produced some of the most divisive debates in the education community in the past several years. Supporters of the tests said they would make the state's high schools more rigorous and a diploma more meaningful. Others argued against the requirement, saying that it created an unfair disadvantage for students in urban schools who had not been given an adequate education.

But the results for the Class of 2009 prompted state school board member S. James Gates Jr. to ask, "Are we setting the standards high enough?"

Read more HERE

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

School system to remove light poles at North Point

Four light poles on the North Point High School football field will be removed, and the stadium is shut down until the school system is assured it is safe to allow students back on the athletic fields.

Last week, after Superintendent James E. Richmond received notice that a number of light towers manufactured by a Fort Worth, Texas company had fallen, it was determined that the poles at North Point were designed by the same company. School system staff found visible cracks in two of the poles, leading to the relocation of the Friday night North Point/Henry E. Lackey High School football game.

On Monday, the school system hired a structural engineering firm to examine four outdoor steel light poles at North Point. The investigation showed there were cracks in two of the poles and evidence of the same distress starting in the two other poles. North Point is the only school with this brand of light pole. Richmond ordered all four poles to be removed from the field. "With the information we have now, we are not taking any chances. The result of not removing the poles could be devastating," Richmond said.

Weather permitting, pole removal will begin Thursday, Sept. 17 and is expected to take two days. Athletic events scheduled for this week have been relocated with cooperation from the other county high schools and the county Community Services department. North Point has also moved physical education classes and JROTC activities to other locations until the poles are removed. North Point Principal Kim Hill said, "The stadium will remain shut down until we know it is safe to reopen."

All night games scheduled at North Point for the remainder of the fall season will be rescheduled as daytime events or relocated. Athletic events impacted include football, girls' and boys' soccer, and field hockey. Parents and fans can find schedule changes by visiting the North Point Web site,, clicking on athletics and viewing the schedules on the North Point Athletics link.

The school system intends to replace all four poles with new poles and reuse the existing light fixtures. There is no time estimate for when the poles will be replaced. Richmond has also ordered inspection of all school system stadium metal light poles.

Concern over the poles, which were manufactured by Whitco Co. LP of Fort Worth, began late this summer when the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issued an alert about the possible risk of the poles. The school system was alerted last week when a notice was sent to Richmond. Nationwide, nine poles have fallen since 2000 and nearly 50 other Whitco poles have been found to have cracks. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has issued statements that engineers are looking for the cause of the failure in the poles.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Students' AP test scores improve

Fewer take exams, but results are up slightly

Maryland Independent
Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2009
Staff writer

Data released by the Charles County school system show that Advanced Placement test scores are improving but participation has dropped.

Read more HERE.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

UPDATE: We the BOE are now 'un-summoned'

It's absolutely amazing what a little publicity can accomplish...

The Board of Education's work session scheduled for 1:30 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 10, with the Charles County Commissioners in the Board Room at the Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, has been CANCELED.

The Board will hold a joint work session with the Charles County Commissioners to discuss the new high school on Monday, Sept. 28, 6 p.m. in the Board Room at the Starkey Building. The meeting will be aired live on Comcast Channel 96 and broadcast live on the school system Web site at The agenda is as follows:

Call to order  6 p.m.
Pledge of Allegiance Public Forum
Work session
Discussion on new high school

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Board of Education Meeting Agenda, 9/8/09

The Board of Education's next monthly meeting is Tuesday, Sept. 8 at the Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building on Radio Station Road in La Plata. The public portion of the meeting begins at 1 p.m. The meeting is televised live on Comcast Channel 96 and rebroadcast throughout the week. All televised Board meetings are also streamed live on the school system Web site at

Executive session  12 p.m.

Call to order  1 p.m.

Pledge of Allegiance, Henry E. Lackey High School's JROTC unit

Superintendent's update to the Board Reports of officers/boards/committees

Correspondence/Board member updates

Education Association of Charles County update

Student Board member update

Opening of school

Fall sports update

CIP update

FY2010 Comprehensive Maintenance Plan

New high school design update

Integration of history and science fair content

Staffing update

Record retention policy

Unfinished Business

New business and future agenda items

  • New business - FY2009 Intercategory budget transfers
    Future agenda items

Recognition- 4:30 p.m.

Resolution: Health Careers Month; Taste of America

Public Forum  6 p.m.

Action items

  • Minutes
  • Personnel
  • State 2011 CIP
  • Recurring Resolutions: Health Careers Month; American Education Week; American Freedom Week; African American History Month; Career and Technical 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 Distinguish Educational Leader; Charles County Teacher or the Year; Employees' Retirement; and Washington Post Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teacher Award.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

President Obama's Address to Students

We have had multiple inquiries from parents, teachers and staff as to whether the school system will provide students with access to view President Barack Obama’s national address to students, which will be broadcast live on the White House Web site, as well as on C-SPAN, at noon, Tuesday, September 8, 2009.

The school system does not have the capabilities to provide ALL students with access to view the address for the following reasons:

  • The data server the school system uses, which supports the school system Web site, does not have the capacity to support more than 65 streams, or 65 individual log ins, to the White House Web site; and
  • The school system does not have the capability to provide television access because C-SPAN has recently become digitized and none of the schools are equipped with a digital converter box from Comcast.

Charles County Public Schools will provide a link to the White House’s Web site on the school system Web site for parents, students and others to access the presidential address at home.

Because everyone will not be able to access this broadcast during the school day, we are asking that no teachers use this in their classrooms.


I was just notified by Central Office that the Board of Education has been summoned to meet with the Commissioners once again for a "Joint Meeting" on the new high school. The date is September 10, 2009 at 1:30 pm in the board room. If this is truely a "joint meeting" why are we dictated a time instead of coordinating? The majority of the Board of Education members hold full-time jobs in addition to their elected position and cannot always be at the beckoning call of the sitting royal "highnesses"