Calvert County Commissioners May Appoint New School Board Members

October 23, 2014

As reported by Southern Maryland Newspapers Online, The Calvert County Board of County Commissioners will be facing unexplored territory in a couple of months when at least one, maybe two, school board members will be leaving before the end of their term.  As described in the article,

According to the Annotated Code of Maryland Education Article 3-301, “The County Commissioners shall appoint a new member to fill any vacancy on the county board for the remainder of that term and until a successor is elected and qualifies.” . .

County Attorney John Norris said he does not know of a time recently when county commissioners have had to appoint a replacement board of education member. . . Terry Shannon, county administrator, said while the decision is up to the commissioners who are still in office, it would make sense for the decision to be deferred to the next board since they will be primarily working with the school board.

Calvert County Administrator Terry Shannon will be speaking to newly elected officials on the topic of local government structure at MACo’s Winter Conference, January 7-9 in Cambridge, Maryland.  The Conference will feature several education sessions intended to introduce nuances in local government structure and county government’s relationship to other local agencies. For information and to register, see MACo’s website.

Washington County Board of Education Shifts $4.5M to Build Hagerstown Education Hub

October 23, 2014

As reported by Herald Mail media, the Washington County Board of Education voted Tuesday night to shift $4.5 million from its fund balance to three newly created funds designated for downtown facilities, a technology initiative and public/private partnerships. The article describes,

School Board President Justin Hartings said the move to create a downtown facilities fund continues to show the board is serious about creating an academic classroom hub in downtown Hagerstown.  Chief Financial Officer Chris South also cited other examples of projects the $2 million downtown facilities fund could support, such as an early buyout of the lease-purchase agreement for the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts, or to pay for costs associated with creating boutique learning facilities whose students could also use the academic hub. . .

The school board has asked the city of Hagerstown and the Washington County Board of Commissioners to contribute financially to th[e academic hub] project.

Opinion Piece Cites Student Innovation as Solution to American Education System

October 22, 2014

In an opinion piece for Wired, Harvard Professor David Edwards describes the importance of discovery-oriented programs to help prepare children for the modern world.  Remarking on the current education system, he writes,

Our math skills are falling. Our reading skills are weakening. Our children have become less literate than children in many developed countries. But the crisis in American education may be more than a matter of sliding rankings on world educational performance scales.

What we need, according to Edwards, is programs that encourage students to embark on a personal process of discovery,

Learning by an original and personal process of discovery is a trend on many US university campuses, like Stanford University, MIT, and Arizona State University. It also shows up in middle school, high school and after school programs, as in the programs supported by the ArtScience Prize, a more curricular intensive version of the plethora of innovation prizes that have sprung up in the last years around the world. Students and participants in these kinds of programs learn something even more valuable than discovering a fact for themselves, a common goal of “learning discovery” programs; they learn the thrill of discovering the undiscovered. Success brings not just a good grade, or the financial reward of a prize. It brings the satisfaction that one can realize dreams, and thrive, in a world framed by major dramatic questions. And this fans the kind of passion that propels an innovator along a long creative career.

In Maryland, the Maryland Innovation Initiative intends to foster the commercialization of technologies through technology validation, market assessment, and the creation of start-up companies in Maryland with several hundred thousand dollar awards. The Initiative is administered by TEDCO, an entity created by the Maryland State Legislature in 1998 to facilitate the transfer and commercialization of technology from Maryland’s research universities and federal labs into the marketplace and to assist in the creation and growth of technology-based businesses in all regions of the State.

The ArtScience Prize awards $100,000 annually to high school student groups to realize innovative project ideas generated in the classroom. Student projects focus on concepts in the arts and design fused with cutting-edge areas of study in the sciences. These project concepts start as “seed ideas” proposed by artists, designers, scientists, and entrepreneurs that evolve in collaborative classes lead by skilled adult Program Mentors into innovative project ideas. The ArtScience Prize currently operates sites in Boston, Massachusetts (U.S.A.), Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (U.S.A.), Twin Cities, Minnesota (U.S.A.).  For more information, see the video above or

Charles County Commissioners Table Report Recommending New Resources For School Facilities

October 22, 2014

At a recent meeting, Charles County Commissioners tabled discussion on a report of the School Adequate Public Facilities Program and Funding Review Committee, which recommended new resources to address a lack of funding for the public school system and a need to build and expand schools.

From The Charles County Independent article,

The report, nearly 80 pages, contains charts comparing taxes of Maryland’s jurisdictions and maps that identify hot spots of expansion in the county and subsequent overcrowding in the schools. It pinpoints issues and offers sometimes multiple solutions.

Jason Groth, chief of resource and infrastructure management in the county’s Department of Planning and Growth Management, another member of the committee, spoke last week to only one section of the report…

Groth spoke about possible tax increases the committee had explored, which could potentially be funneled to the school system, like a utility tax. Anne Arundel County imposes an 8 percent tax on residential phone landlines, which could yield $1.5 million in annual revenue if Charles County instituted a similar tax. If Charles adopted a Prince George’s County’s policy, in which the government taxes nonresidential, residential and wireless lines, a theoretical 8 percent tax could result in $6.3 million in revenue, the committee found.

St. Mary’s County also has instituted a 1.5 percent tax on electricity, which if enacted by Charles County could reap $1.2 million.

The Commissioners tabled the report following this discussion and there is no indication whether it will be revisited. The Committee, formed by the county commissioners, includes commission members and representatives from the Board of Education, Southern Maryland Board of Realtors and the Education Association of Charles County.

NACo Webinar: From Broadband Infrastructure to Phone Discounts: Communities Benefit from Schools & Libraries Discount (E-Rate)

October 22, 2014

The National Association of Counties (NACo) will be co-hosting a webinar, From Broadband Infrastructure to Phone Discounts: Communities Benefit from Schools & Libraries Discount (E-Rate) on Thursday, October 30, 2014 from 2:00 pm until 3:15 pm EDT.

NACo logoFrom NACo’s website:

Please join the National Association of Counties (NACo), National League of Cities (NLC), and United States Conference of Mayors (USCM) on a webinar with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to discuss the Commission’s efforts to assist state and local governments in deploying high-capacity broadband to every school and library in the United States.  The FCC operates the nation’s largest education and library technology program, known as the E-rate program (providing discounts on telecommunications and broadband for schools and libraries).  Leaders from the FCC will provide information on the Commission’s ongoing efforts to modernize the E-rate program to ensure all schools and libraries have access to high-capacity broadband.  Specifically, they will provide information on new rules in place to provide sustainable funding for Wi-Fi and upcoming steps under consideration to close the capacity gap that exists for so many schools and libraries, particularly in rural areas, but in urban areas as well.  They will also address efforts to ensure that schools and libraries get access to the best service at affordable rates.

Click here to register for the webinar.

Maryland’s Common Core Implementation Work Group Reviews Draft Recommendations

October 21, 2014

The Maryland College and Career-Ready Standards (MCCRS) and Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC) Implementation Review Work Group met today for the fifth time in this Legislative Interim.  The Work Group has two more scheduled meetings, however they may modify the schedule to hold their final meeting on November 12 to meet the deadline for their final report.

At this meeting, the Work Group reviewed draft recommendations including possible recommendations regarding state funding for purchase of hardware and infrastructure to meet the technological infrastructure needs of public schools related to the implementation of the PARCC assessments. The State currently aims to have students in Maryland take the PARCC computer-based assessment in the 2017/2018 school year.  Over the next couple of years, students may opt to take a paper version of the test instead of the computer-based version. Estimates for the cost of technology need to fully implement the PARCC assessments based on school system requests have been as high as $100 million.

For more information on the work of this Work Group, see the materials provided by the Maryland State Department of Education or contact Robin Clark at the Maryland Association of Counties.




Maryland Boards of Education Release 2015 Legislative Positions

October 21, 2014

The Maryland Association of Boards of Education (MABE) has released their 2015 Legislative Positions.  Their positions include asking the State to provide $350 million in school construction funding in the coming year’s budget and requesting sustained local government investment in education and in school construction.

From MABE’s Legislative Positions,

  • MABE places a high priority on providing students high quality, healthy, and safe learning environments. Therefore, we greatly appreciate the State’s consistent investment in school construction and renovation projects. The FY 2016 school construction budget should provide at least $350 million to ensure that all Maryland schools are better learning environments to prepare our students to be college and career ready. . .
  • Funding from Maryland’s twenty-three counties and Baltimore City plays a critical role in combining with state and federal funding to support teaching and learning. MABE strongly supports the Maintenance of Effort reforms enacted in 2012. MABE also supports sustaining adequate local capital funding essential to financing the construction and renovation of high quality school facilities in partnership with the State.

For more information, read the full list of legislative priorities from MABE.


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