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Board Notebook: Redistricting Approved, Boiler Upgrade at Bel Air Elementary, Truancy Vote

The Board of Education approved the final elementary redistricting plan at Monday's meeting.

Final Redistricting Approval

The Board of Education voted to make the , as amended.

Several parents spoke during the public comment session for that topic, some to thank board members and others with last minute requests.

Legislative Update

Kathryn Carmello presented another legislative update to the board, this time including a bill requiring a board vote.

Board members voted in support of a bill that would eliminate the need to criminally charge parents before filing a truancy petition for a student in the Juvenile Court.

Easy Approvals

Board members voted to approve monthly contract awards, including a contract for a boiler upgrade at Bel Air Elementary School, the monthly personnel report and minutes of previous meetings. 

Potential Programs at Roye-Williams 

Special Education Director Ann-Marie Spakowski and Linda Chamberlain discussed relocating certain programs to Roye-Williams Elementary School due to the low capacity there. 

"We have been working to utilize some of the space at Roye-Williams for some programs that we think would function well together," Chamberlain said. "The first thing that we have discussed is moving a welcome center there for the English language learner families."

The welcome center is intended to consolidate services for English language learner families at one place, according to Chamberlain. Two other potential programs for the space are the Infants and Toddlers and Child Find satelite programs, both currently housed at Hall's Cross Roads Elementary School

"I think we might want to talk about looking at all of our programs comprehensively next year once we've got the students where they're going to be," Board President Mark Wolkow said. "And take a comprehensive approach to looking at where those programs are, where they might better serve capacity needs, better serve our public needs."

Race to the Top grant updates

William Lawrence, associate superintendent for curriculum, instruction and assessment, and Susan Brown, coordinator of intervention programs, presented the board with an update on the school system’s Race to the Top Educational grant. 

The school system applied for $2.9 million from the grant for the next four years and as of March 1 was able to begin using funds from it. Brown presented eight projects funded by the grant including working with College Board to help students with advanced placement practice exams and SAT assistance, updating their student information system and holding Teacher Effectiveness Academies. 

The school system does plan to maintain some expenses once the grant runs out, such as the data system, but many of the positions associated with the program will expire. 

Report on William Paca/Old Post Road and Magnolia Elementary School

Last July, both William Paca/Old Post Road and Magnolia Elementary Schools were identified as Title I Schools in Improvement, as neither met the 2010 Annual Yearly Progress for the Maryland State Department of Education. 

At Monday night's business meeting, principals from both schools presented an update on their schools' progress after a task force was created to boost student performance. 

Gail Dunlap, of William Paca/Old Post Road, and Patricia Mason, of Magnolia, have both implemented programs to follow task force recommendations, including adding two 30-minute instructional blocks for reading and math during the school day and encouraging parent outreach. 

In the process of describing student loss to area schools, Dunlap also uncovered another problem at William Paca/Old Post Road. 

"I lost approximately 184 students through choice," Dunlap said. "It wasn't necessarily the school, it was the fact that they could go to a school with air."

William Paca/Old Post Road is not air conditioned, according to Dunlap, and several parents who left to area schools attributed their leaving to that. 

As for meeting the 2011 AYP, neither principal was sure, and according to Wolkow, the No Child Left Behind Act has raised standards in its final years, causing many schools to fall behind. 

"For next year 82 percent of schools will not make AYP in the country," he said, quoting the United States Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. "If nothing happens in Washington ... we're going to be calling virtually all of our schools failing schools."

Upcoming Meeting

The next Board of Education business meeting will be held on March 28 at 6:30 p.m. in the . 

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