Allegany College Receives Grant for STEM Project

Allegany College of Maryland has been awarded a $67,300 Appalachian Regional Commission grant to prepare the regional workforce for STEM-related careers.

The Cumberland News-Times reports,

The funding, jointly announced Tuesday by U.S. Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen (both D-Md.), will be matched by local money.

“ARC continues to deliver important federal investments for Allegany County,” Cardin said. “This federal investment in our students’ future is good news for Western Maryland and an example of what we should be doing across the country. A strong STEM education opens doors to good quality jobs and the know-how to move our economy forward.”

Equipment such as a chemistry spectrometer, a chemical hygiene cabinet and CO2 gas sensors will be purchased to help students better quantify data and improve scientific reasoning skills.

“Maryland’s success depends on the strength of every region of our state, and the Appalachian Regional Commission has been a vital source of job-creating investments in Western Maryland,” said Van Hollen, a member of the Senate Appropriations and Budget Committees. “This grant for Allegany College is a smart investment to equip our students with the skills they need for in-demand, high-tech jobs, and I will continue to fight against efforts by the Trump Administration to eliminate the ARC.”

Read the full article for more information.

Baltimore County School Board Names Verletta White as Interim Superintendent

The Baltimore County school board voted unanimously Tuesday night to name Verletta White, who has risen through the ranks from teacher to one of the top officials in the system, as interim superintendent.

The Baltimore Sun reports,

White, 49, will replace Dallas Dance, who resigned suddenly April 18. The school board decided to appoint an interim superintendent because it did not have sufficient time to do a national search for a permanent replacement by the time Dance leaves office at the end of June.

The one-year appointment is subject to approval by the state superintendent of schools. It will begin July 1.

No contract has been signed, and it is not known what White’s salary will be.

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz said the board “made a wise choice selecting Chief Academic Officer Verletta White, who has 25 years of experience in the County school system, and will ensure continuation of our legacy of success.”

Abby Beytin, president of the county teachers union, also expressed her approval of the choice. “There is no one who knows the system better,” she said. “My feeling is that she will want us to move steadily.”

Dance voiced his approval of White’s selection. “I look forward to bright days ahead for TeamBCPS as she builds on the success of our system and make it even better,” he said.

White has been the chief academic officer since 2013, when Dance chose her shortly after he became superintendent.

She has stood behind all of Dance’s initiatives, even those that ran into opposition, such as a new grading policy instituted this school year.

Gilliss said the board can decide this year whether it will conduct a national search to find a permanent replacement.

The county will switch from an all-appointed board to a partially elected board after the 2018 elections.

Maryland law requires superintendents to work under four-year contracts that run from July 1 to June 30. It is unusual for an interim superintendent to remain in place for two years, but it has happened recently in Montgomery County.

White’s education career began in 1992 after she graduated from Towson University.

She taught second, third and fourth grades at Garrett Heights Elementary School in Baltimore City then moved to Summit Park Elementary in Pikesville to teach third grade.

She was a teacher mentor, then became an assistant principal and finally a principal of Seneca Elementary School in Bowleys Quarters in 2000.

She rose through the ranks quickly under the former superintendent, Joe Hairston, holding a variety of administrative jobs before being named assistant superintendent of schools in 2009.

She holds a master’s degree in leadership in teaching from Notre Dame of Maryland University and is currently a doctoral candidate at Morgan State University.

White lives in northern Baltimore County.

Dance will leave with three years remaining on a four-year contract. At the time of his resignation, he said he did not have a new job, but had job prospects.

Superintendents usually tell their school boards in the fall if they are leaving in order to give the board time to do a national search and hire a replacement.

Since he was hired, Dance had the support of the majority of the board. More recently, however, several board members have voted against his proposals.

Useful Links

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Dallas Dance Resigns as Baltimore County Schools Superintendent

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Baltimore County School Board to Start Search for Interim Superintendent

County and School System Partner on School Construction 10-Year Plan

At yesterday’s meeting of the Association of School Business Officers in Ocean City, Anne Arundel County’s Education Officer Amalie Brandenberg and Schools COO Alex Szachnowicz presented “Transparent, Data Driven and Inclusive,” about the county’s Facilities Utilization Master Plan.

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Anne Arundel’s school construction schedule follows a data-driven process identified through a partnership between the county and the school system.

Screenshot 2017-05-23 13.34.23

Maryland’s counties regularly share the importance of transparency in the area of school construction. Since school boards do not have the ability to tax and raise revenue in Maryland, county governments provide funding for school construction along with the state. Funding decisions can be informed by additional input from school systems regarding the state of their schools and future plans.

As school construction costs have risen sharply over the past fifteen years, partnership between school boards and the counties is helpful in making sure that priority projects are completed to meet student needs.

In Anne Arundel County, the county and school system partnered to provide prioritized 10-year recommendations for facilities capital improvements and building utilization. The plan is the result of a data-driven process that defined a decision making tool and then assessed existing facility needs.

For more information, view the Presentation from Anne Arundel County.

Dorchester County Schools Names Mitchell New Superintendent

The Dorchester County Board of Education announced Monday the appointment of Dr. Diana Mitchell to a four year term as Superintendent of Dorchester County Public Schools. The retirement of current Superintendent Dr. Henry V. Wagner will be effective Saturday, July 1, a decision he announced Dec. 15, 2016.

According to a DCPS press release,

Dr. Mitchell was appointed by a unanimous roll call vote on Monday, May 22, 2017. In commenting on the appointment, President Glenn Bramble said:

The Board of Education adhered to all of the processes recommended by the Maryland Association of Boards of Education throughout this four-month search. Additionally, the Board considered community input from a wide variety of sources as part of their deliberations. We are delighted to welcome a professional of Dr. Mitchell’s caliber and look forward to her leadership of DCPS. We are confident that she will build on our progress of the last ten years.

Current Superintendent Dr. Henry Wagner was called upon for comment and made the following statement:

First, I would like to repeat a statement I made in this month’s staff bulletin, published on May 1st, in the section entitled Superintendent Selection Process Updates. “In keeping with MABE’s model and our own protocols, I have had no involvement in the processes that have taken place since my retirement announcement on December 15. However, I am very much looking forward to working with my successor in order to effect a smooth transition.”

Now that Dr. Mitchell has been appointed, she has my full support, and I look forward to assisting her with this transition in any way that I can. And I urge everyone to do the same, as a matter of principle, and for the benefit of the children of Dorchester County Public Schools.

Thank you!

Dr. Mitchell’s four-year term begins on July 1, 2017.

Useful Links

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Dorchester BOE Announces Superintendent Finalists

DCPS Press Release

Names of Candidates for Washington County Board of Education Vacancy Released

The field of candidates seeking a vacant seat on the Washington County Board of Education includes several names that previously have appeared on ballots for local office.

The Herald-Mail reports,

The Washington County School Board Nominating Commission met for the second time Monday afternoon, opening the eight applications received by Friday’s deadline.

Of the eight received, seven candidates will be considered by the commission moving forward because one application wasn’t received before the deadline at the required location, according to a statement released after Monday’s meeting.

The seven candidates, in alphabetical order, are as follows:

  • Denise D. Fry, a former head of the Washington County Teachers Association
  • Edwin M. Hayes, a former school board member
  • Alfred E. Martin, a former school board candidate
  • Linda Murray, a former school board candidate
  • Peter Perini, a former school board candidate
  • Carlos Reyes, a former candidate for Hagerstown City Council
  • David R. Shuster, director of operations and compliance at Horizon-Goodwill Industries

The successful appointee will fulfill the term of former board member Karen Harshman, who was removed from office April 25.

Her term was set to expire in late 2018.

Read the full article for more information.

Caroline Budget Includes Funding for 82 New Students

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Caroline County Commissioners begin the budget process with a $46.6M proposal.

Caroline County, Maryland began its budget process with a hearing on the budget proposal for fiscal year 2018. As described by MyEasternShoreMd.com, most of the testimony at the hearing was to show gratitude for past funding and to ask for continued support.

The same was true in the area of education funding, which makes up a large portion of every county’s budget. From MyEasternShoreMd.com,

Erin Thornton, comptroller for Caroline County Public Schools, said the Caroline County Board of Education appreciated the commissioners’ continued support for maintenance of effort funding, a state law that requires local jurisdictions fund the same amount per student as the year before.

In FY18, Caroline County’s contribution to the local school system will increase by $221,000, due to an 82-student increase in enrollment this year, to $12.9 million.

Here are a few details from the proposal:

Total Operating Budget

  • Proposed General Fund budget for FY 2018 is $46.6M, a 2.5% increase from the FY17 adopted budget.

Education Funding

  • The proposed budget meets the maintenance of effort requirement of $12,858,628.

Taxes

  • No increase or decrease in taxes, however the differential increased for the town of Denton from 6 to 7 cents.

Government Employee Salaries

  • Caroline county employees will receive a 3% salary increase under the proposal.

For more information, see Caroline County’s Proposed Operating Budget and County holds first public budget hearing, tax differential meeting.

Garrett’s Budget Shows Modest Growth

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Garrett County’s budget proposal includes modest growth to an operating budget of $74.9 million.  

Garrett County’s fiscal year 2018 budget includes a slight increase in the county’s operating budget, and $2.7 million increase in capital funding from the fiscal year 2017 budget.

As described by the County government’s mission statement,
The mission of Garrett County Government is to provide our citizens the highest quality service in a timely, efficient, and courteous manner. . . To totally achieve this goal, this government must be operated in an open and accessible atmosphere, be based on comprehensive and strategic long-term and short-term planning, and have an appropriate managerial organization of fiscal responsibility.

Total General Fund Operating Budget

  • $74,875,707, an increase of $449,987 or 0.6%, from the FY17 general fund operating budget

Education Funding

  • At maintenance of effort

Taxes

  • No changes to taxes

Government Employee Salaries

  • 1% increase to scale

For more information, see Garrett County’s Budget Office.

Washington County’s Budget Proposal Benefits from Improving Tax Base

 

Screenshot 2017-05-18 16.24.30As described by Washington County’s Commissioners,

The 2018 Washington County budget totals $315,651,550 which is $15,093,010 or 5.02% above the 2017 approved budget. The budget was balanced based on the following changes and objectives:

  1. Increase in property tax assessable base
  2. Increases in local income tax revenue
  3. Educational funding
  4. Public safety funding
  5. Infrastructure and personnel

There were several issues which the County faced regarding the 2018 budgets. Main issues involved public safety, education, economic development initiatives, and infrastructure funding. In addition, the County is required to fund increases as a result of Federal and State mandates enacted over local governments. Reductions in Highway User revenue shares have also impacted the County’s road maintenance program. Emergency services have been and will continue to be a major issue facing the County in regards to service levels and funding. Even with these difficult and complex issues, the County still presents a budget that provides existing and new service levels with no increase in the property tax or income tax rates which have been held at the same rate for eighteen years.

Here is a snapshot of the proposed budget:

Total Operating General Fund Budget

  • $221.8 million, 4.75% more than the 2017 budget

Education Funding

  • Funded at the required maintenance of effort amount

Taxes

  • No change in tax rates

Government Employee Salaries

  •  5% employee COLA (cost of living adjustment), which is offset by retirement savings turnover

For more information, see the Citizen’s Guide to the Budget.

Talbot Proposal Overrides Property Tax Cap to Fund Education

 

As described by Talbot County, in the proposed Fiscal Year 2018 budget,

In order to fund expenses for the public school system, the Talbot County Council has proposed to override the voter imposed Property Tax Revenue Cap. This is authorized by State law in order to fund Education expenses only. This budget proposes to override the tax cap by $1,171,900, the increased amount over last year’s funding, which correlates to an increase of 1.59¢ in the Real Property Tax rate.

The county would still maintain two of the lowest tax rates (property and income) in the state, according to the budget presentation.

Screenshot 2017-05-18 16.03.01
Talbot County highlights it proposed property tax increase.

Here is a snapshot of the proposed budget:

Total General Fund Budget

  • $83.5 million, 5.18% increase from FY2017

Education Funding

  • Funds $1.1 million for education in non-recurring expenses in addition to the required maintenance of effort amount

Taxes

  • Proposes to override property tax revenue cap with an increase of 1.59 cents in the real property tax rate to fund education

Government Employee Salaries

  • Provides step increase for full time county employees

For more information, see:

FY 2018 Proposed Budget Summary

FY 2018 Budget Introduction PowerPoint

FY 20018 Proposed Budget Workbook

Queen Anne’s County Increases Employee Compensation in Budget Proposal

Screenshot 2017-05-18 15.24.35

As described by Queen Anne’s County, the proposed Fiscal Year 2018 budget includes the following personnel actions:

  • Employee Compensation Increase – 2% for county employees . . . [and]
  • Enhancements – 7 new full time positions

Here is a snapshot of the proposed budget:

Total Operating Budget

  • $133.8 million, 3.2% increase from FY2017

Education Funding

  • Funded at the required maintenance of effort amount

Taxes

  • No change in tax rates

Government Employee Salaries

  • 2% compensation increase for county employees

For more information, see the Queen Anne’s County budget proposal presentation.