State Board of Ed Talks Priorities, School Reopenings

The Maryland State Board of Education met in a both a special session and regular session on September 21 and September 22, respectively, to discuss State Board Priorities, Review Local School System Reopening Plans, and other topics.

During the Special Meeting of the State Board on September 21, the Board received a presentation from Robert Hull, President and CEO of the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) on leading practices in a priority setting. President of the Maryland Board, Clarence Crawford, stated his objective to have the Maryland Board adopt priorities for the 2020-2021 school year and to defer adopting a new strategic plan until a new State Superintendent is selected next year. Top priorities included ” overseeing the reopening of schools with an emphasis on equity, accountability, and safety and ensuring that MSDE and local school systems focus on the social-emotional needs of students, and the hiring of the new State Superintendent in 2021.”

The following day, the Board met in a regular session where Tiara Booker-Dwyer, Assistant Superintendent for College and Career Readiness, briefed the Board on the Department’s revised vision for Career and Technical Education (CTE) and presented a summary of the Department’s review and evaluation of each local school system’s education recovery and reopening plan.

From MABE’s coverage:

Board members asked questions regarding local plan provisions for student transportation, stakeholder engagement, plans for the provision of personal protective equipment (PPE), and protocols for ensuring the safety of students and staff upon return to school buildings. Ms. Booker-Dwyer responded to
questions, noting that shipping delays for technology and PPE are pervasive in the local plans. Dr. Salmon emphasized that MEMA and FEMA have delivered millions of PPE items and that she is not aware that a shortage of PPE is a significant issue. She also stressed that the health standards for identifying individuals with symptoms, testing, and contact tracing are in the purview of the State Department of Health and local health departments.

Dr. Salmon shared that all plans are now rated as either acceptable or comprehensive, and therefore all approved as meeting the State’s standards. This fact, in conjunction with the Governor’s decision to move into stage three, should facilitate the reopening of schools in all school systems in the near future. Board member Rose Li asked whether, based on these plans being approved, the State Board can demand that local school systems either reopen or explain why they can’t. Dr. Salmon responded that these are local decisions and that all local superintendents are engaged in community-based discussions as they determine their reopening steps.

The Board also discussed Fiscal Year 2022 Budget Estimates and Requests, Updates on Financial Reporting Requirements, Emergency Teacher Certification Regulations.

Stay tuned to Conduit Street for the latest information.

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