Feb 18 2010 | Notes from the Feb. 16 Meeting of the Board of Education

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Notes from the Feb. 16 Meeting of the Board of Education

Notes from the Feb. 16 Monthly Meeting of the Wicomico County Board of Education

The Wicomico County Board of Education at its monthly meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 16:

2009-10 Calendar Revisions

Affirmed that June 14-18 will now be school days because the school system needed all five makeup days built onto the end of the 2009-10 calendar, and approved turning the March 1 professional day into a half-day of instruction for students and a half-day testing preparation in-service for teachers. Superintendent of Schools Dr. John Fredericksen said he and other school system superintendents will meet with State Superintendent Dr. Nancy Grasmick Friday to talk about a number of issues including the recent missed days due to winter weather. He will discuss the five remaining missed days (Feb. 8-12) with the Board once he’s heard what the state plans to do. He thanked families for their patience in dealing with school closings, and thanked school system facilities staffers, as well as the county and city, for their snow removal efforts on behalf of schools.

2010-11 Calendar Finalized

Approved a revised calendar for 2010-11 with commencement ceremonies on May 31, 2011, for Mardela High, June 1 for Wicomico High, June 2 for James M. Bennett High, and June 3 for Parkside High. A majority of students, parents and guardians, and staff members preferred having each high school graduate on its own day instead of having the three city high schools all graduate on Saturday. The final 2010-11 calendar is posted at www.wcboe.org.

Dress Code

Approved on first reading a revised dress code policy for students. The revised policy is on the Board’s web site at www.wcboe.org for public comment prior to a final vote at the March 9 Board meeting. Comments may be made by e-mailing to comments@wcboe.org or leaving a message at 410-677-5251. Revisions to this policy began last fall with numerous opportunities for input from staff, parents and guardians, and students, said Cathy Townsend, School Climate Coordinator. Meetings held with the Student Government Associations of each high school yielded valuable input. The draft policy is comprehensive and clear, Board member Ronald Willey said, removing grey areas and the need for interpretation. Townsend said that if the draft policy is approved in March, she will immediately begin to work on an implementation timeline to ensure that all students and families know the new rules before enforcement of the new policy takes effect with the start of the 2010-11 school year.

New JMB to Open August 2010

Heard from Director of Facility Services Brian Foret that the new James M. Bennett High School building will be substantially complete and ready to open in August 2010. This is a full year ahead of the originally scheduled occupancy date. There will be ongoing construction to demolish the old school, manage new traffic patterns, work on parking lots, and complete the renovation of the auditorium, but the school will be ready for instruction. “It’s an enormous undertaking but I know at this point that we can do it,” said Foret, who informed the Board of the new schedule only after consultation with contractors, architects and other colleagues. A city project to upgrade the intersection at Bateman Street and South Division Street is still in the works, and the James M. Bennett High project will not be entirely finished until a new Bennett Middle is built in Fruitland and the old Bennett Middle is demolished to allow the high school full use of the site.

Moment of Silence

Observed a moment of silence in memory of Wicomico High School history teacher Richard Seay and retired custodian James Garris.

Superintendent’s Report

Heard from Superintendent Fredericksen that:

- H1N1 vaccine is still available by calling the Health Department at 410-543-6943.
- he was pleased to have in attendance Eugene Warner, director of the Excel Academy at the Salvation Army for students in need of an alternative setting to find success in school.
- now is peak time for the shaping of Maryland General Assembly legislation on student performance, funding, negotiations, and unfunded and underfunded mandates.
- Wicomico is continuing to evaluate details of Maryland’s Race to the Top grant application, which could bring funds to low-performing schools in participating counties throughout the state.
- the Grade Point Average (GPA) Committee will meet again to make recommendations based on policy revisions the Board approved on first reading in January.
- the staff of Wicomico County Public Schools and the Board are continuing to work on the fiscal 2011 budget that must be submitted to the county by March 15. The budget will be built on a level of maintenance of effort funding to meet the Board’s legal and educational responsibilities.
- the results are in from the school climate survey taken by many staff members, parents and guardians, and students last fall. Principals and instructional leadership team chairs will receive their school’s data, with three strengths and three recommended areas to work on, at a meeting next week. Board member Robin Holloway urged that members of the public have an opportunity to see the results of the survey in which they participated.

Reports

Received for information the monthly personnel report for classified employees and the monthly report on competitive grant proposals, and approved the monthly personnel report for certificated employees and February budget transfers. The Board also settled on a schedule for Board members to present diplomas at the 2010 commencement exercises.

Public Comments

Heard from Ben Brumbley, president of the Wicomico County Council of PTAs, that the James M. Bennett High Rock & Roll Revival (sponsored by the JMB PTSA and continuing Feb. 19-21) is a great success, and that the next WCCPTAs meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 23 at the Board. He also questioned the decision to resume school after a two-hour delay Tuesday given that he had heard of a number of transportation problems because of snow-covered roads. Another speaker brought to the Board’s attention issues with snow removal at Willards Elementary.

MABE Memberships

Voted not to continue the practice of paying for Maryland Association of Boards of Education associate memberships for former Wicomico Board members who wish to remain active in the organization. Usually three or four former Board members request the MABE associate membership, which costs $25 per person per year.

National Board Certification Stipend

Accepted from the state a $27,000 grant from which to pay stipends to Wicomico teachers who have earned prestigious National Board Certification. Stipends will go to Jane Long, Donald Abbatiello, Ronna Bievenour, Christy Briggs, Kristen Briggs, Kathy Cordrey, Barbara Culver, Melinda Demaris, Julie Dill, Cheryl Doughty, Vicki Ewalt, Gretchen Foust, Mark Garlock, Abbie Goebel, Tracy Hayes, Dana Hetzler, Kelly Kaiser, Elizabeth McQuown, Valerie Oliphant, Jessica Payne, Jennifer Phillips, Bettina Postles, Debra Riley, Lisa Santore, Elaine Tilghman and Nicole Twilley.

Book Approved

Approved the addition of the book “The Juvie Three” by Gordon Korman to the Middle School Approved Literature List, making it possible for Bennett Middle to use the book in its “One School, One Book” challenge this year.

Honors Designation

Approved a change from the term “CM” (Certificate of Merit) for some academically rigorous high school courses to Honors, a more commonly understood term. Students will register this spring for Honors courses for 2010-11.

Policy Rescinded

Rescinded a 34-year-old policy on construction retainage. State law has changed over the years and now supersedes the Board policy. The Board also approved a reduction in the retainage withheld on the JMB High School project from 10 percent to 5 percent, in accordance with the contract.

School Bus Replacement Schedule

Approved the school bus replacement schedule for fiscal year 2011. The Transportation Office recommended approval to replace 12 buses completing 12 years of service, and four buses less than 12 years of service that will replace paid spare buses.

GASB #45 Trustees

Reappointed Ed Taylor and Carl Vincent as trustees to three-year terms on the GASB #45 Retirement Plan Investment Trustees.