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The Board of Education at its April 17 meeting voted to change athletic and extracurricular activity eligibility requirements and received information about elementary school overcrowding, activity buses, budget transfers, testing and cameras on school buses.

Action items

The Board approved certificated personnel actions covering three certificated appointments, 36 releases without prejudice, three releases with prejudice, 10 retirements and one leave of absence. The Board approved changes to the athletic and extracurricular activity eligibility policy. The biggest change is for rising ninth graders who now are eligible to participate in sports or clubs the first quarter of high school even if they did not meet the requirements in the fourth quarter of eighth grade. Read about all of the policy changes at https://bit.ly/2J9s66T.

Superintendent’s update

Superintendent Kimberly A. Hill announced the last day of school this school year is Friday, June 15 and the last day for teachers is set for Monday, June 18. Additionally, the Superintendent updated the Board on the addition of a security officer at Piccowaxen Middle School and CCPS students’ participation in a school safety roundtable with Congressman Steny Hoyer.

District Committee on Assessment

Chris Miller, coordinator of formative assessment, and Linda McLaughlin, president of the Education Association of Charles County (EACC), presented information about the yearlong work of the District Committee on Assessment. The committee was first formed due to recommendations from the 2016 Commission to Review Maryland’s Use of Assessment and Testing in Public Schools. Committee members reviewed what a balanced assessment system should look like, why we assess, the number of tests and the amount of time students spend on testing. The committee recommendations include developing an informational website for the Office of Accountability, an audit of the usefulness of the Performance Series and additional professional development for teachers and administrators that focus on student involvement in the assessment, when appropriate.

Elementary school overcrowding

Assistant Superintendent of Supporting Services Michael Heim and staff provided enrollment numbers for growing neighborhoods in Mary H. Matula Elementary School and Berry Elementary School zones that could cause additional overcrowding at the schools during the next school year. Construction delays at Billingsley Elementary School caused school officials to push implementation of a comprehensive elementary school redistricting from September 2018 to September 2019. Student enrollment at both Berry and Matula is expected to decline with redistricting. In the meantime, staff looked at enrollment numbers, and showed that sending students from some neighborhoods to other schools a year in advance would relieve overcrowding at the two schools; however, it would cause overcrowding at some receiving schools that they feel are less able to accommodate additional students. Sixteen of the 21 CCPS elementary schools are over capacity, which led to the building of Billingsley and the renovation and expansion of Dr. Samuel A. Mudd Elementary School.

Cameras on buses

Director of Transportation Brad Snow updated the Board on the feasibility of placing cameras on all school buses. Snow said 59 percent, or 127 of the 215 regular route buses already have cameras. Snow explained the different bus categories, including route buses, trip buses, spare buses and special education route buses. The school system started placing cameras on all new buses several years ago, and will continue to do so until all route buses are equipped with cameras. Cost of a bus camera ranges between $1,800 and $2,000.

Activity buses

The Board previously asked for information about possibly funding activity buses at the high schools, and asked staff to report on the feasibility of providing one bus a week per school. Heim provided the history of the activity buses, which were cut in 2014 due to funding. For six high schools, the average ridership ranged between eight and 14 riders per bus. Three principals — Kathy Perriello of Henry E. Lackey High School, Rick Conley of St. Charles High School and Steve Roberts of Maurice J. McDonough High School — talked about how school schedules, through one-hour lunches or activity periods, allow students to participate in extracurricular activities and clubs during the school day.

Intercategory budget transfer

Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Business Randy Sotomayor presented the Superintendent’s request for an intercategory budget transfer of $5.2 million from budget savings related to lapsed salaries and other expenditure categories. The transfer will allow school officials to fund reading program enhancements, eighth-grade Techbook supplies, the Investigations program for early childhood grades as well as to replace laptops and computers that are more than five years old and a rainwater harvesting system. The transfer also supports maintenance projects such as security enhancements at Arthur Middleton Elementary School, asphalt paving at Henry E.Lackey High School and air conditioning unit replacements at Malcolm and William B. Wade elementary schools.

Public Forum

There were three speakers at the Board’s monthly public forum. Karl Grebe, a parent, talked about placing cameras on all school buses for safety reasons. Two instructional assistants, Jennifer Jenkins and Gina McIntire, spoke about being pulled from their daily duties to substitute, discipline issues and salary considerations for Title I instructional assistants who must meet additional professional requirements to be highly qualified. Resolutions The Board presented resolutions recognizing Teacher Appreciation Week, Administrative Professionals’ Week, Child Nutrition Employee Appreciation Week and National Physical Education and Sport Week. Read more at https://bit.ly/2H9YzxB.

Student recognition

The Board started and ended their meeting with student recognition. In the morning, the Board thanked Henry E. Lackey High School students William “Hunter” Burch and Kayla Bowman for heroism and valor for their successful efforts to save an accident victim from a burning car. The Board also recognized La Plata High School’s Alex Blake as state wrestling 2A state champion in the 138-pound class and members of the All State Junior Chorus, All State Junior Band, and All State Senior Band, Senior Mixed Chorus and Senior Treble Chorus.

Afternoon recognition included students honored for academic achievement, career readiness and personal responsibility. They are Maia Parker, senior, academic achievement, North Point High School; Keara Watkins, senior, St. Charles High School, personal responsibility; Amari Seldon, eighth grade, academic achievement, Mattawoman Middle School; Jasmine Ross, fifth grade, career readiness, Malcolm Elementary School; James "Trey" Roberts III, fifth grade, personal responsibility, Walter J. Mitchell Elementary School; Autumn White, fifth grade, career readiness, Mary B. Neal Elementary School; and Carsyn Martin, fifth grade, academic achievement, J.C. Parks Elementary School. Read more at https://bit.ly/2qFO4Yp.

Exemplary employee recognition

The Board recognized six exemplary employees: Jacqueline Taylor, English teacher, North Point; Tiyata Winters, administrative intern, Mattawoman; Debra Coates, kindergarten instructional assistant, Malcolm; Angela MacKay, fifth-grade teacher, Mitchell; Elizabeth Brandkamp, third-grade teacher, Neal; and Ashley Lyles, SOAR instructional assistant, Parks. Read more at https://bit.ly/2JPLYwZ.