Wednesday, March 25, 2015

NSBA Conference: Attention Adaptivity: How to Know If REAL Learning is Taking Place!

Current research in neuroscience shows positive correlations between cognitive abilities (attention, memory, etc) and improved student achievement. Calcasieu Parish Public Schools (enr. 34,000) will focus on the innovative concept of Attention Adaptivity, specifically the use of an individual's attention data to inform instruction and allow it to adapt to the individual learner with the goal of optimizing the student's attention, and to achieve academic success. In this session, you will learn how to help students understand their learning deficits and how to erase them.

Handouts - None

It was interesting to watch them run the software program on a test subject from the audience.  The subject was suppose to watch a brief video about the galaxy and outer space, etc, maybe five minutes in length while an electrode was stuck to her forehead to monitor her attention on the video.  The video was complete with a couple of pop-up ads intentionally for distraction.  End result, a teacher would be able to tell what material the student wasn't focused on or their attention waivered for re-teaching.  Question actual functionality.

NSBA Conference: Rigorous Academics is Not Enough to Close the Achievement Gap

Learn about Roseville Area School District's (enr. 7437) 10 year journey to create alignment and accountability in delivering the equitable, respectful learning experience critical to every child's academic success. See how development of an Equity Vision and Scorecard drives the difficult conversations, mobilizes change, and monitors progress from the classroom to the boardroom. The importance and impact on achievement of becoming student centric and using cultural competence to differentiate professional development will be highlighted.


I like the concept but worry about implementation in a district as large as ours.  The one referenced has only 7,500 students enrolled as opposed to our 26,000+.  I like the score card reports.

NSBA Conference: The Cheaters the Liars and the Scandal; How to Survive Standardized Testing

This presentation is focused on understanding the roles and responsibilities of the school board and the administration to develop policies and procedures geared towards preventing testing irregularities and managing the impact on the students, the district and the public when a testing irregularity occurs. School districts can be successful in managing through state assessments with collaboration between the school board and the administration to understand the culture in the district and implement measures to prevent testing irregularities. 


ehhh....wasn't feeling this one as much either. Seemed geared more towards the administrators and staff rather than the board members or at least for our current situation.

NSBA Conference: Teaching at the Speed of Learning

Come, bring your own device (BYOD) and join other forward-looking districts shifting from student sit-and-get to student-led education. Examine online tools and discover how integrating handheld technology complements your current programs, supports required curriculum and helps you meet Common Core Standards. Experience how motivation and assessment emerge organically from the process and products of project-based learning. Get links to resources, tutorials, and exemplary student collaborations to take back and share with your instructional leaders!


Love, love, love this session.  Right up my alley and the next steps for our new BYOD policy.  Please take a look at the handout.

NSBA Conference: Years of Action - A Strategic Plan for Every Student - Every School - Every Day

The Toronto District School Board's (enr. 232,000) mission is to enable all students to reach high levels of achievement and to acquire the knowledge, skills, and values they need to become responsible members of a democratic society. To accomplish this, we are committing ourselves to the Years of Action 2013-2017. During this time, we will direct our focus and align our resources to support every student, every school, every day of the year. Learn how.

Handout 1
Handout 2

This was a good session, unfortunately it was not what I thought it was going to be.  It focused more on overall system goals.  I believe CCPS already has good, rigorous system goals in place.  I ended up leaving to attend another session.

NSBA Conference: Sexual Violence and Schools: Navigating Title IX in 2015

Title IX and schools' responses to sexual violence are among the hottest and most complex topics in education today. Through this interactive session, board members and administrators will understand how to respond to a student complaint of sexual assault in compliance with recent federal guidance and be able to draft policies and procedures that comply with Title IX and OCR standards. Everyone will receive a "Title IX Toolkit" to bring back to their schools.


I had a hard time with this one.  I understand the legalities involved for a school system, but my morality, ethics and compassion always want to outweigh the legalities.  Interesting information.

NSBA Conference: Achieving Academic Success In Minority Males: Guaranteed

Explore ways to create a shift in behavioral management and reduce violence within the school by identifying and implementing motivational mentors. Learn the logistics and tenets of a motivational mentoring program, and formulate a plan for recruiting motivational mentors internally and externally. Design a strategy for engaging parents and community members in the educational process through the motivational
mentoring program.

Handout 1
Handout 2
Handout 3
Handout 4
Handout 5

Very nice engaging presentation about how to reach the 'Alpha Male'.  Again back to my idea of reaching out to the local fraternities to assist with mentorship reigns loud.

NSBA Conference: Parent Power: Making Connections That Work

Are you looking for meaningful ways to engage parents beyond PTA meetings? Virginia Beach City Public Schools' (enr. 68,647) Magna Award-winning Parent Connection is designed to remove barriers to engagement and help parents navigate the resources and information available to support students and families. Schools can't expect parents to be involved if the relationship is not reciprocal. Therefore, Parent Connection is truly a customer-focused initiative. Come learn easy-to-replicate outreaches to serve and engage parents.

Handout 1
Handout 2

Again, the majority of the ideas, CCPS has already implemented.  However there were several key targeted programs I liked, such as the "Beach Bag Program"

NSBA Conference: The Uncommon Common Core - Where Do They Stand?

In 2010, the nation's governors and state education chiefs announced the release of voluntary common core standards that aim to develop college- and career-ready high school graduates. Within a year, 45 states had signed on. But what began as an unprecedented national consensus soon devolved into controversy where it remains today. Join Patte Barth who will provide a national update on the status of common core and offer insights into their more contentious elements. Leave with some communication strategies to help you engage your community in a common core conversation based on fact, not fiction.  


Fortunately, most of the communication methods discussed during this session are already implemented by CCPS. Again the three points of concern seem to be developmental appropriateness, implementation and measurement.  No clear cut answers were found here. :(

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Notes from Board of Education Meeting, 3/10/15

The Board of Education Meeting on Tuesday, March10 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 – 12 p.m.

Call to order – 1 p.m. Pledge of Allegiance, Westlake High School JROTC

 Superintendent’s update - See Report

  • Highlights - Weather, Spring Break, assessments, testing, Bunkyo University, graduation, PreK registration
 Correspondence/Board Member updates
  • McGraw - Thank you to all staff that had to work through the inclement weather; thank you to Abell and Kelly for testimony at joint commissioners meeting; Read Across Charles County; and Spelling Bee
  • Marshall - Two concerns - recruitment and retention of teachers; testing
  • Kelly - serving on the Parents Matter; Attended MABE Conference Planning Committee; Aware of typos on worksheets going home with students; concerns regarding teaching to the test; Allocations Committee; Read Across Charles County
  • Palko - invited to Teacher Academy of Maryland at McDonough;
  • Crawford - attended state board of education meeting
  • Abell - Attended Healthier Partnerships of Charles County; and Joint Commissioners School Allocations Meeting
  • Lukas - Read Across Charles County; Chess Tournament
Education Association of Charles County update - See Report

American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees update
  • Highlights - thank you for the $1,000; future negotiations
Student Board Member update - See Report

Security update
  • This was an oral update and I do no not post my notes on this topic for obvious reasons.  Please watch the video for more detailed information if so desired.
Overview of robotics program
  • Students from Piccowaxen Middle School presented on STEM and Robotics - awesome demonstration
Legislative update
  • House looking to restore some of the governors educational budget cuts
  • HB486/SB595 Charter School Expansion Bill - heard in house and senate not moved out of committee yet in either; not helpful to public schools
  • HB135 Charles County Excise Tax - Still in committee
  • SB 390 Burden of Proof Bill for children with disabilities - still in committee
  • HB389/SB455 - Labor Day Bill - school to start after Labor Day; still in committee
  • McGraw/Crawford - requested amendment to HB135 wording to include renovations....Hill responded that she is working through commissioners and delegation to conclude who sponsored the bill.
Unfinished business

New business

Future agenda items
  • Abell - Requested the formation of a committee to include  teachers, central office staff, board members, parents, students to review and understand assessments and testing the process and the data as a collaborative effort.
  • Marshall - Board Goals sub-committee requesting submission by April 1st.
  • Marshall - Teachers Academy of Maryland
  • Marshall - Testing, Assessments, review, costs, etc
  • Kelly - parent involvement; how to get involved in your child's school
  • Palko - visited New Orleans; North Point students involved with renovations of a ship/submarine in New Orleans
  • Palko - SLO's and teacher evaluations presentation
  • Lukas - GWWO Survey
Recognition – 4:30 p.m.
  • Students - Wesley Thompson, 5th grade, Academic Achievement, William Diggs Elementary School, Principal: Sandra Taylor; Nehemiah Strawberry, 5th grade, Personal Responsibility, J.P. Ryon Elememtary School, Principal: Robert Opiekun; Veronica LeBeau, 8th grade, Career Readiness, General Smallwood Middle School, Principal: Kathy Perriello; Rainey Southworth, 12th grade, Academic Achievement, Thomas Stone High School, Principal: Michael Meiser
  • Staff - Jennifer Jenkins, special education instructional assistant, Ryon; Jacqueline Stancliff, fourth-grade teacher, Diggs; Anita Riggans, special education teacher, Smallwood; Nancy Jeffrey, German teacher, Stone
  • Resolutions: Month of the Young Child - Accepting: Octavia Butler, kindergarten teacher, JP Ryon Elementary School; Tionna McAllister, kindergarten, J.P. Ryon Elementary School; National Student Leadership Week - Accepting: Student liaisons
Public Forum – 6 p.m.
  • Calvin Compton - doesn't like that we used the inclement weather make up dates during spring break.  People have vacations planned, surgeries, etc. urges board to reconsider and make an emergency reconsideration.
Action items
  • Minutes
Motion to accept the Minutes as amended by Kelly; Second by Marshall
Yes = Abell, Crawford, Kelly, Lukas, Marshall, McGraw, Palko
  • Personnel
Motion to accept the Personnel by Lukas; Second by Kelly
Yes = Abell, Crawford, Kelly, Lukas, Marshall, McGraw, Palko

Schools opening for three days during spring break

Charles County Public Schools will open for students and teachers for three days during spring break – Monday, March 30; Tuesday, March 31; and Wednesday, April 1. Wednesday, April 1 will be a two-hour early dismissal day for students and afternoon prekindergarten students attend that day. The school system has used seven inclement weather days so far this school year, of which only four are built into the school calendar. The use of spring break days for lost instructional time is outlined in the Charles County Public Schools Parent Handbook/Calendar annually.

The Board of Education generally approves the school calendar two years in advance, and has already approved the use of spring break for make-up days this school year. Charles County Public Schools will not submit a waiver of inclement weather days to the Maryland State Board of Education, as waivers are generally granted only in extreme cases and when school systems have made efforts to make up missed days.

Schools will be closed for spring break April 2-6 (unless more inclement weather days are used), and reopen on Tuesday, April 7. Administrative offices are closed on Friday, April 3 and Monday, April 6. Students who are absent from school March 30, March 31 and/or April 1 should submit a note to school upon their return. The note should indicate the reason for absence so it can be properly coded. Some students may be absent due to plans made to take advantage of the expected spring break. Students who have arranged college tours or have circumstances that, in the judgment of the principal, constitute a sufficient cause may receive an excused absence from school.

Maryland law requires school to operate 180 days for students each school year. The school system builds four inclement weather days into its calendar each year, which are deleted from the end of the year if not used. All days have been used this school year, making Tuesday, June 16 the last day of school for students.

Information regarding inclement weather make-up dates is also published on the CCPS website, and on page 10 of the 2014-15 Charles County Public Schools Parent Handbook/Calendar. Schools were closed due to snow and ice storms on Jan. 14, Jan. 27, Feb. 17, Feb. 18, Feb. 26, March 5 and March 6. Delayed openings or early closings do not affect the use of inclement weather days.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Letter to the Editor on 3/4/15, My Response

A Letter to the Editor was published in the Maryland Independent on March 4, 2015 directly naming me.  My response to that letter has been submitted for publication, and can be found below.

I suspect I’m like most people. I don’t like paying taxes. I complain about them. I worry where I’m going to get the money to pay my taxes. And, in the end, I figure it out and pay. Then I enjoy the amenities my taxes provide – an excellent school system, roads, libraries, snow removal, water and sewer, police, fire, emergency medical services and more.

In a recent letter to the editor, a writer took me to task for making an offhanded remark on social media about my property tax increase and my lack of continued eligibility for a homeowner’s tax credit. He called me out as a member of the Board of Education who advocates for the needs of the school system, but used my personal situation along with assumption and misinformation to make his points. I would like to respond to that March 4 letter to the editor.

Shortly after becoming a divorced mother of four, I researched all programs that I might qualify for to help me maintain a stable home for my children. I qualified for the Homeowner’s Tax Credit, which I was able to take advantage of for two years. I would encourage anyone going through a time of financial hardship to do the same. It helped me keep my home.

The writer correctly points out that I volunteered as a member of the county’s School Adequate Public Facilities Program and Funding Review Committee. The committee worked to research possible revenue sources for the commissioners to consider for future school construction, renovations and school operating costs. At the end of a yearlong, laborious process, the committee provided the commissioners a recommendation listing feasible revenue streams to consider.  If by serving on this committee and completing the work required makes me in favor of increased taxes, I am guilty as charged.   

The writer also states that as a member of the elected school board in 2014, I demanded the commissioners use $6 million of Development Rights and Responsibilities Agreement (DRRA) funds to construct a pool at the new St. Charles High School. The video of the joint Board/Commissioners meeting does not support the writer’s claim. The video shows Board of Education member Donald Wade requesting, not demanding, the county commissioners to fund the pool. The county commissioners agreed and determined the funding source for the pool, which will be used by Charles County Public Schools students and the entire community.

The writer refers to a robo call to parents and staff about the lack of funding provided by the commissioners for this year’s school budget and possible cuts that might need to be made as a result. What we communicated was fact, not fiction.  As a result of the unfunded budget, the school system implemented cost saving measures that would not affect the classroom such as eliminating after-school activity buses. 

The writer goes on to imply that the school board is fighting to increase taxes, which is not true. The Board of Education is not a funding authority; our mission is to provide direction and educational policy for the school system.

Finally, the writer states the school system is sitting on $18 million dollars in unallocated fund balance, but he should have read the report rather than assuming what it said. The $18 million fund balance is a cumulative amount from the last five years and a direct result of management decisions to not fund OPEB and not proceed with maintenance projects and technology replacements. This was done at the direction of the county commissioners and the Board of Education. While seeking state approval for St. Charles High School, the county needed to provide assurances that operating costs for the new school would be funded.  The FY2014 fund balance contains designated funds and will be allocated as follows: health insurance reserve (selfinsurance 7.5 percent of claims) $2.9 million; contingency reserve (1 percent of annual operating budget) $3.6 million (approximately equal to the FY2015 fund balance requirement in the revenue portion of the budget); and a capital maintenance/technology reserve of 12.3 million.

In closing, everyone has an opinion and it’s great that we live in a country where we can voice these opinions.  However, we must be careful when voicing our opinions that we do not present them as facts.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

REMINDER: Board of Education Meeting, 3/10/15

The Board of Education’s next monthly meeting is Tuesday, March 10, 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 student and staff recognition starts 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 website at Select CCPS TV and then choose the Live Broadcast tab. The following is a tentative meeting agenda.

Executive session – 12 p.m.

Call to order – 1 p.m.Pledge of Allegiance, Westlake High School JROTC

 Superintendent’s update

 Reports of officers/boards/committees
  •  Correspondence/Board Member updates
  •  Education Association of Charles County update
  • American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees update
  • Student Board Member update
  • Security update
  • Overview of robotics program
  • Legislative update
Unfinished business
New business
Future agenda items
Recognition – 4:30 p.m
  • Students
  • Staff
  • Resolutions: Month of the Young Child; National Student Leadership Week
Public Forum – 6 p.m.
Action items
  • Minutes
  • Personnel

Monday, March 02, 2015

Joint Board of Education/Comissioners January School Allocation Meeting

Members of the Board of Education and staff from Charles County Public Schools will be attending the Commissioners meeting on Tuesday March 3, 2015, at 10 a.m. in the Commissioners’ meeting room for the January School Allocations Cycle.

Please see the below report.