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Board of Education Town Hall

Teacher Town Hall Discussion

On March 6, the Board of Education conducted a Town Hall for teachers. Twenty-five certificated staff members participated in the forum.

The following are the top issues noted at the Teacher Town Hall.

  • Discipline – Teachers say they are being threatened by students, and some fear for their safety. Speakers do not feel there are enough consequences for students who cause disruption and Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) has lowered its standards. Teachers believe that new state rules dilute the Code of Student Conduct and discipline options. Students temporarily assigned to the Robert D. Stethem Educational Center need interventions to teach them coping skills to use when they return to their home school. There is a need for alternatives to suspensions. Some teachers tell them that they have been told to cut down on suspensions.

    • We are fully aware that student discipline continues to be an issue and we are committed to continuing to work together to find solutions for students and teachers.

      Superintendent Kimberly Hill said there is no directive to principals to not suspend children. However, 10 percent of teachers and principals’ evaluation is the Schools Making a Difference (SMAD) Index. This index counts for 10 points out of a total 100-point evaluation. The portion related to suspensions (within SMAD) counts for less than a half of a point of the 10-point SMAD Index. Out of the 100-point evaluation for teachers and principals, the suspension data counts for 3/10 of a point. Suspension data for each school is compared to that school’s data from the previous year.

      One of our top priorities is to provide safe and orderly environments in our schools. Attendance rates show us most students are coming to school. Dr. Hill recently met with her High School Advisory Council and the students told her out-of-school suspensions do not work or help with behavior. We, as the adults, need to remember safe and orderly is one thing and disruptive and disrespect is another. We need to figure this out and how to teach our kids. If we suspend students for a couple of days, they don’t learn. We struggle with how to best accomplish this and will look at appropriate alternatives with the help of our teachers.

      The department of special education, in collaboration with the department of student services, has formed a committee to address issues with student behaviors and to meet MSDE expectations regarding student suspensions. This committee includes stakeholders from school administration, instruction, multicultural education, school counseling, school psychologists, special education and building administrators. The identified goals of this committee are:

1. To reduce the overall rate of student suspensions, especially African-American students and students with disabilities;

2. To improve teacher/student and administrator/student interaction through relationship-building and increasing cultural competency;

3. To increase teacher and administrator capacity in managing challenging student behaviors at the classroom and building levels through strengthening PBIS and the implementation of school-based professional development that focuses on effective classroom management techniques;

4. To improve the consistent use of evidence-based instructional techniques that will increase student engagement, thereby decreasing inappropriate student behaviors.

This committee meets weekly and will continue throughout the 2017-2018 school year.

Additionally, all middle schools sent a team to a two-day restorative training seminar in March. We are hopeful that once implemented, restorative practice strategies will address some of the middle school concerns.

CCPS has hired two additional behavior specialists this school year to support teachers and principals with students who are having behavioral issues. These individuals are working closely with the Deputy Superintendent’s Office to provide a proactive approach instead of reacting once a child has reached a critical point.

  • Lack of appreciation – Teachers said there is a general feeling of lack of appreciation. An example was given of not receiving recognition for milestones, like years of service, that create this type of feeling.

    • The school system has a number of programs and ceremonies to honor and recognize employees for their service. There is an annual Years of Service ceremony, which honors employees for 25, 30, 35 and 40 or more years of service. Additionally, the Board of Education recognizes exemplary employees at each Board meeting throughout the year. Individual schools also host recognitions for their employees. If teachers have ideas of ways or events for principals to increase the feeling of appreciation, we ask that you share them with your administration as well as the Superintendent. We appreciate and celebrate the difference our employees make in the lives of children.

  • Retention of professionals – The school system needs to work on retaining speech language pathologists (SLP). SLPs provide great services for children and are a good return on the school system’s investment. SLPs bring in revenue through billing. SLPs need substitutes occasionally so they can have a day to complete mandated paperwork.

    • We continue to work hard to obtain funding to provide increases for our employees and ways we can encourage all of our trained professional staff to remain in Charles County. Hiring quality people and keeping them is a priority for the Board and Superintendent.

  • Equity in staffing at schools – There is no equity in staffing. A school with 900 students gets the same level of staffing as a school with 400. There are inconsistencies. Specials teachers in a large school are only able to meet with kids once every six days, which does not allow teachers to provide consistent instruction.

    • There is a staffing committee that looks at the allocation of teachers and staff in each school and building. The committee is looking now at reallocating teachers for the next school year based on student populations. Allocating more staff for one building means taking staff from another building. Dr. Hill said that is the difficult part, and the committee struggles when making these decisions.

  • Growing English as a Second Language (ESOL) population – Some schools share an ESOL teacher, which is particularly hard during testing. The children need their accommodations, and something needs to be implemented during testing time that does not result in just free time for these students.

    • The school system has requested funding for six teachers, one instructional assistant, one outreach facilitator and one resource teacher in next year’s budget. The requested budget also adds three new ESOL positions, two teachers and a resource teacher. We don’t have a lot of funding for this, so it puts us in a difficult position. CCPS has the fastest growing ELL population in the state. We have requested additional funding from the county to meet the needs of these students.

  • Extracurricular stipends – Charles County coaches, in comparison with other counties in the state, receive the lowest stipends. Head coaches make about $2,500 less when compared to their counterparts across the state. The lack of funding diminishes the quality of coaching. It was also mentioned that performing arts teachers need better stipends.

    • The school system regularly reviews all of its pay scales and looks at how CCPS compares to other jurisdictions. Any compensation changes must go through negotiations, and the EACC regularly brings a review of extra-duty pay. However, funding for compensation has been tight over the past eight or nine years, and priority has been given to step and scale increases and employee salaries when funding has been available.

  • Testing – Testing students, such as Life Skills students who receive a certificate rather than a diploma, has little to no value. The time taken to prepare the students for the test and to take the test could be better spent teaching them skills they can use.

    • CCPS staff has advocated to members of the General Assembly for changing the state requirements for testing some categories of students with disabilities.

  • Promotion policy – A high school teacher said she learned during a recent meeting with feeder middle schools that elementary and middle schools are not allowed to hold a student back or give a score lower than a D. She questioned what happens when middle schools receive sixth graders who are reading four years below grade level. Additionally, she said kids in middle school are not required to pass all classes and teachers’ evaluation are tied to these students who are not required to pass certain classes.

    • Board Member Virginia McGraw responded that is not a CCPS policy. She said she was a principal for 16 years and students were retained all the time. It takes a lot of work and documentation, but it is done.

  • Engage Teacher Academy of Maryland (TAM) students – Train graduating TAM students to be substitutes so when they are on their college breaks they can substitute in the schools.

    • We are working to promote the TAM program and stay in contact with CCPS graduates who are in teacher preparation programs in college to bring them back as employees when they graduate. The substitute training idea is a good one to pursue.

  • More online training – Use more online training to provide professional development for teachers. This would provide teachers more time to plan and do paperwork on professional development days and possibly free up days to restore spring break.

    • A calendar committee has looked at the new restrictions on the calendar — to start after Labor Day and end by June 15 — along with the necessity to build in emergency days. There is little room to vary the calendar or add days to spring break. Teachers must still be compensated for the time they invest in online staff development, so we would have to see if there would be a time-saving benefit to more online training. CCPS already provides some online training opportunities for employees.

  • Calendar items – Restore spring break by using professional development days. Use early dismissal days for open houses and back-to-school nights. High school teachers start their day at 7 a.m., and staying until past 8 p.m. on these days is a hardship.

    • Staff development days are a negotiated item, requiring an agreement to change the number and use of these days. Some schools schedule open houses on early dismissal days; however, when conferences are only scheduled in the afternoon, it places a hardship on working parents, who we also want to involve as partners in their child’s learning. Principals are working to create a balance to make sessions meaningful and more convienient for both parents and teachers, and would welcome your input.

  • Mentoring – Consider mentors for staff teaching specials. New specials teachers face unique hurdles when they are teaching in a building where no one else teaches their subject matter.

    • We currently have 22 mentors, which is an increase from last school year. In addition to our mentors we have implemented a new program where teachers can receive mentoring help after school from experienced teachers and both receive a stipend. Content specialists can also provide mentoring to those teaching specials.

  • Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) – What is the policy, who can use electronic devices for class and how can a teacher get the technology to use in a classroom?

    • The school principal determines if BYOD will be utilized. All schools now have the infrastructure to implement BYOD.

  • Recruitment of minority teachers – Teachers would like to see an expansion of minority recruitment at top black colleges and universities. Additionally, a suggestion was made to expand the Minority Achievement office.

    • In 2015-16, CCPS attended 42 college/university job fairs in 15 states (Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Pennsylvania, Texas, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri and West Virginia). 29.4 percent of new teachers hired for 2016-17 are teachers of color. CCPS’ teacher workforce is 24 percent minority, which is significantly higher than the national average of 17 percent.

    • Last school year, CCPS recruited at the following Historically Black Colleges and Universities:

      • Alabama State University

      • Hampton University

      • Howard University

      • University of Maryland Eastern Shore

      • Morgan State University

  • Expand the Robert D. Stethem Educational Center and CTE Programs – Teachers have heard there is no room at the school and some students want to go back, but can’t. For some it offers a good education alternative. Additionally, students do not know about the CTE programs at Stethem.

    • The problem is not space, it is funding for staffing.

    • Students should know the opportunities that are available at Stethem. Possible communications improvements include sharing student-created commercials about Stethem with middle and high school students. CTE classes offered at the center are in the Program of Studies.

Recruitment Retention Report
Support Staff Discussion
Teacher Recruitment Retention for the 2016-17 School Year

About the Board of Education
School system news


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