Friday, December 31, 2010

Letter to the editor: Charles County school system needs better bus policy

Maryland Independent
December 31, 2010

...I bring this entire situation to the public's attention because I am appalled at what the school informed me about the Charles County bus policy.

I was told that only children in prekindergarten or kindergarten are not to be dropped off without someone there to get them off the bus.

Since my son is in second grade they didn't see anything wrong with him getting dropped off at the edge of our driveway, on the highway, with no one there to retrieve him and make sure he made it to the house safely.

Maryland law states: "A person who is charged with the care of a child under the age of 8 years may not allow the child to be locked or confined in a dwelling, building, enclosure, or motor vehicle while the person charged is absent and the dwelling, building, enclosure, or motor vehicle is out of the sight of the person charged unless the person charged provides a reliable person at least 13 years old to remain with the child to protect the child. … A person who violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction is subject to a fine not exceeding $500 or imprisonment not exceeding 30 days, or both."

So if the law states a child younger than 8 cannot be left alone, then why would a policy state that a child can be dropped off alone from the school bus? I don't understand this with so many children abducted each year or injured from pedestrian-related accidents.

The school system needs to revise its policy to make sure our children remain safe and not a statistic.

Kathy Almassy, Bryantown

Read the full letter HERE.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Board Swearing-In

The swearing-in ceremony for the new Board of Education is set for 4 p.m., Dec. 20, at North Point High School. Two new Board of Education members, Patricia Bowie and Michael Lukas, were elected into office. They join incumbents Roberta S. Wise, Donald Wade, Jennifer Abell, Maura Cook and Pamela Pedersen, who were re-elected to their positions. The Board begins a four-year term and elects officers at the January meeting.

Charles County Public Schools provides 26,858 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 35 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Notes from the Board of Education Meeting, 12/14/10

The Board Meeting on Tuesday, December 14th will be re-broadcast on Comcast Channel 96, Verizon FIOS Channel 12 and is available via webstream at . To view the full agenda and the various reports, please visit BoardDocs.

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.

Executive session - 11:30 a.m.

Call to order - 1 p.m.

Pledge of Allegiance, Maurice J. McDonough High School's JROTC unit

Maurice J. McDonough High School Football Team - Class 2A State Champions

Superintendent's update to the Board - Read report

Correspondence/board member updates -

  • Wise - Senior Portfolios; Military Ball
  • Pedersen - All County Band & Strings, Senior Portfolios; It's Academic
  • Abell - Rachel's Challenge at Somers...would like to see implemented at all schools
Education Association of Charles County update - Read Update

Student board member update - Read Update

New student advisor update - Mr. Gary Winsett, Social Studies, Thomas Stone High School

CIP update - Read update
  • Appeal to IAC on Dec 3; Will be appealing before the Governor on certain issues
  • 265 Total Portable Classrooms in the system
St. Charles High School redistricting timeline - See report for timeline

Navy housing
  • Land on Radio Station Road where Matula, LaPata, Annex, etc....135 acres has been deeded to us by the Navy since it has been used for educational purposes for over 30 years.  Need to go after the broken down houses on the sharp turn on Radio Station Road.  Advised Dept of Education we are interested.  Must show educational use within 12 months
Solar energy concepts - hopefully move to whole system in the near future

Student exchange process, English Language Learners (ELL) intake process/handbook - See update

Budget update - See update

Board policy 4610 amendment - See update

Legislative update - See update

Board farewell reception - Oasis Café, 3 - 4:30 p.m.

Recognition - 4:30 p.m.
  • Students
  • Employees
Unfinished business - None

New business and future agenda items - None

Public Forum - 6 p.m. - None

Action Items
  • Minutes
  • Motion by Pedersen; Second by Cook
  • Personnel
  • Motion by Pedersen; Second by Cook
  • 2011 Legislative issues packet
  • Motion by Bailey; Second by Pedersen

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Autism Breakthrough? D-Cycloserine Treatment For Impaired Sociability

Scientific Blogging Science 2.0
News Staff
December 8, 2010
2:20 a.m.

The social impairment of people with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) can have a profound impact on quality of life.

As part of their research, Eastern Virginia Medical School scientists say they have verified that a specific mouse strain, known as the BALB/c mouse, is a valid animal model of the limited sociability seen in persons with Autism. In the presence of another mouse, BALB/c mice move as far away as possible and do not interact as normal mice do, they say in much the same way people with autism often avoid making social contact with other people.

This finding gave them a way to test whether an existing medication can alter the function of certain receptors in the brain known to affect sociability and help the animals be more at ease around others. The medication used was D-Cycloserine, originally developed to treat tuberculosis, but previous studies showed that it also might change social behavior. In preliminary studies at Eastern Virginia Medical School, the medication appeared to resolve the Balb/c mouse's deficits of sociability - BALB/c mice treated with the medication behaved as a normal mouse would when placed near another.

Read more HERE.

Friday, December 10, 2010

REMINDER: Board of Education Meeting, 12/14/10

The Board of Education's next monthly meeting is Tuesday, Dec. 14, 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., and recognition begins at 4:30 p.m. The meeting is televised live on Comcast Channel 96 and Verizon FiOS Channel 12, and is rebroadcast throughout the week. Board meetings are also streamed live on the school system Web site at If there is anything listed on the agenda that you would like to ask questions about or want more information, please let me know.

Executive session - 11:30 a.m.

Call to order - 1 p.m.

Pledge of Allegiance, Maurice J. McDonough High School's JROTC unit

Maurice J. McDonough High School Football Team - Class 2A State Champions

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
  • New student advisor update
  • CIP update
  • St. Charles High School redistricting timeline
  • Navy housing
  • Solar energy concepts
  • Student exchange process, English Language Learners (ELL) intake process/handbook
  • Budget update
  • Board policy 4610 amendment
  • Legislative update
Board farewell reception - Oasis Café, 3 - 4:30 p.m.

Recognition - 4:30 p.m.
  • Students
  • Employees
Unfinished business

New business and future agenda items
  • New business
  • Future agenda items
Public Forum - 6 p.m.

Action Items
  • Minutes
  • Personnel
  • 2011 Legislative issues packet

Foundation: Growth in test scores is sign of good teacher

By Nick Anderson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 10, 2010; 2:58 PM

While debate rages in the education world about how to measure effective teaching - or whether it is even possible to do so - research funded by a prominent advocate of data-driven analysis has found that growth in annual student test scores is a reliable sign of a good teacher.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation reported that and other preliminary findings Friday from a $45 million study of teacher effectiveness in several cities.

Read more HERE.

Monday, December 06, 2010

As Bullies Go Digital, Parents Play Catch-Up

The New York Times
Published: December 4, 2010

Ninth grade was supposed to be a fresh start for Marie’s son: new school, new children. Yet by last October, he had become withdrawn. Marie prodded. And prodded again. Finally, he told her.

“The kids say I’m saying all these nasty things about them on Facebook,” he said. “They don’t believe me when I tell them I’m not on Facebook.”

But apparently, he was.

Marie, a medical technologist and single mother who lives in Newburyport, Mass., searched Facebook. There she found what seemed to be her son’s page: his name, a photo of him grinning while running — and, on his public wall, sneering comments about teenagers he scarcely knew.

Someone had forged his identity online and was bullying others in his name.

Read more HERE.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Hold the brownies! Bill could limit bake sales

The Associated Press
Friday, December 3, 2010; 8:15 PM

WASHINGTON -- Don't touch my brownies! A child nutrition bill on its way to President Barack Obama - and championed by the first lady - gives the government power to limit school bake sales and other fundraisers that health advocates say sometimes replace wholesome meals in the lunchroom.

Read more HERE.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

EPA Releases New Draft Voluntary Guidelines for Selecting Safe Locations for New Schools

Smart Growth News
Smart Growth Online

EPA has released new draft guidelines to help communities protect the health of students and staff from environmental threats when selecting new locations for schools. The new draft voluntary guidelines will help local communities consider environmental health issues in establishing school site selection criteria and in conducting effective environmental reviews of prospective school sites. The draft guidelines recommend involving the public in the site selection process from the beginning to help ensure community support for these decisions.

Read more HERE.