CSM Receives Third “Military Friendly” Designation

The College of Southern Maryland (CSM) has received the 2017 Military Friendly® School designation from Victory Media for the third year in a row. Military Friendly schools are top-tier educational institutions that provide the best opportunities for military service members and their spouses.

From Southern Maryland News Net,

“CSM is proud to once again be recognized for the support and services we offer for active-duty military and veterans and their families in the community,” said CSM President Dr. Brad Gottfried. “The college makes it a priority to help these veterans reach their academic and career goals as they transition into civilian life.”

Just a day before the award was announced on Nov. 10, Gottfried spoke at a Veterans Day celebration breakfast at the La Plata Campus, where CSM’s active-duty military and student veterans, faculty and staff were honored for their contributions to the nation through their service in the armed forces.

Gottfried emphasized the college’s commitment to veterans, noting that CSM is one of the largest providers of educational services for current and former service members and their families in Maryland. Military/veteran students represent 10 percent of CSM’s total enrollment.

The college is approved by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the Maryland Higher Education Commission, which allows eligible veterans, service members and certain dependents to receive VA educational benefits for credit certificate and associate degree programs. CSM’s outreach includes the CSM Student Veterans Organization and a lounge where student veterans can gather to study and socialize.

The Military Friendly® School designation comes from Victory Media which surveys thousands of institutions and assembles information that is provided to service members and their families, helping them select the best college where they can receive the education and training needed to pursue a career in the civilian workforce.

Read the full article for more information.

Local Newspaper Offices to Become a Charter School

The Children’s Guild breaks ground on a new project in Anne Arundel County following other school constructions and re-purposed renovations in Maryland. 

The Children’s Guild currently operates Monarch Academy Public Charter Schools in Laurel, Glen Burnie, and Baltimore City, Maryland. These charters have been touted as examples of school construction and renovation techniques that save costs in the short-term.

In a study comparing costs of Anne Arundel County’s Rolling Knolls Elementary, and the Monarch Global Academy in Laurel, Maryland, the Public School construction program found major cost differences, many of which were attributable to the educational specifications required in traditional public schools, but not required in charter schools. The specifications for public schools lead to larger footprints for the schools.

screenshot-2016-12-01-16-39-01From the report,

Rolling Knolls Elementary School was designed to be 21,261 gross square feet larger than the Monarch Academy, while serving a smaller number of students (598 vs. 757). At the cost-per-square foot attributed to the Monarch facility ($184.76/sf), the overall difference of building area would be equivalent to approximately $3.93 million, or about 41% of the total cost differential between the schools; at the cost of the RKES facility ($252.65/sf), the difference would equate to approximately $5.37 million, or 56% of the differential.

For more information, see Developer begins construction on Monarch Academy and The Cost of School Construction: A Comparison of the Monarch Global Academy and Conventional School Facilities, Report to Governor Larry Hogan and the Board of Public Works

Haystack Mountain School Becomes Virtual Reality

Allegany county and school officials gave a 3-D tour of the new facility that has come together through cooperation.

Following funding challenges, a school at Haystack Mountain in Allegany County is almost becoming a reality. For now, as reported by the Cumberland Times-News, county commissioners and school officials are happy with the preparation and the plans, which can be viewed in a three dimensional format through modeling software.

Last year, county government officials were confronted with a $25 million shortfall in the construction budget for the High School on Haystack Mountain. Working together with the school system, they reduced costs and achieved the needed funding for the project.

From the Cumberland Times-News,

The process of securing the $51 million needed for the project went through many ups and downs over a three-year period.

“Allegany County has pioneered the concept of taking care of what you have,” said Franchot. “That fiscal discipline is really, really appreciated. I’m very impressed with the presentation and teamwork.”

For background, see Allegany County Grapples With School Construction Budget Shortfall.

Making the 2017 Session Successful For Counties at #MACoCon

Conclude the 2016 MACo Winter Conference with an introduction to MACo’s 2017 Legislative Initiatives, provide your input on managing these issues, and learn what you can do to help the county community achieve these important goals.

Session 2017: Path to Success


MACo’s success in Annapolis depends on contact at every level. Roll up your sleeves at this strategic session, as MACo’s policy leadership and staff guide a practical conversation on the road ahead for each of MACo’s top issues. Who are the key players, how do individual elected officials get involved, and what messages are essential? At stake are the heart-and-soul issues facing each county’s priorities, autonomy, and bottom line. Join this session to arm yourself and your county peers for the battles ahead.


  • Re-invest in Local Roads, Bridges, and Infrastructure
    • The Honorable John Barr, Washington County Commissioner
    • Barbara Zektick, Associate Director, MACo
  • Strong and Smart State Funding for School Construction
    • The Honorable Jan Gardner, Frederick County Exeuctive
    • Robin Clark Eilenberg, Research Editor, MACo
  • Energy Facility Siting
    • The Honorable William Pickrum, Kent County Commissioner
    • Leslie Knapp Jr., Legal and Policy Counsel, MACo
  • Balancing Release of Police Body Camera Video
    • David Morris, Chief of Police, Riverdale Park, and President, Maryland Chiefs of Police Association
    • John Fitzgerald, Chief, Village of Chevy Chase Police Department
    • Natasha Mehu, Associate Director, MACo

Moderator: The Honorable Jerry Walker, Anne Arundel County Council Member

Date & Time: Friday, December 9, 2016; 11:00 am – 12:30 pm (Followed by boxed lunches from 12:30 pm – 1:00 pm)

Learn more about MACo’s Winter Conference:

Charter School Advocate Selected for US Education Secretary Post

The President-elect announces former Michigan Republican Party chairwoman as his pick for the cabinet position.

President-elect Trump has selected Betsy DeVos as his choice for Secretary of Education. Image Courtesy of Wikipedia.

As reported by Fox News, President-elect Donald Trump has chosen Betsy DeVos as his pick for US Education Secretary. The appointment requires Senate confirmation. As described,

DeVos heads the advocacy group American Federation for Children. She’s known for supporting charter schools and vouchers.

Before Trump’s announcement, some conservatives were complaining about DeVos’ ties to the political establishment. They also warned that she previously supported Common Core standards that Trump railed against during the campaign.

For more information, see the full story from Fox News.

The choice of DeVos may reflect a potential openness of the new Administration to the Common Core standards. At the same time, according to The New York Times, the federal government may have little role in the Common Core at this point.

From The New York Times,

COMMON CORE In an interview with Fox News in October last year, Mr. Trump said: “I may cut Department of Education. I believe Common Core is a very bad thing.” The statement, though, may have reflected a bit of a misunderstanding. Common Core standards, an initiative to standardize educational requirements throughout the nation, were adopted by states. Under a recently enacted law, the federal government is prohibited from telling states what educational standards to adopt. So the Department of Education has no authority over Common Core anyway.

For more information, see Where Donald Trump Stands on School Choice, Student Debt and Common Core.

In Maryland, Governor Hogan appointed state board members who supported the Common Core even following some criticism of the standards. For more information, see: Opinion Piece Predicts Maryland Governor Will Continue Common Core.

Winner/Loser States Among College Grads (Psst…MD is Winning)

nyt-college-grads-movementA recent article from the New York Times data-driven “Upshot” section focuses on state demographics, and college graduates. It finds a general trend of newly college-educated workers moving southward and toward the coasts, and away from the more inland sections of the country.

Maryland is noted as among the “net winners” in the analysis.

From the article:

Many of the most skilled workers — young people with college degrees — are leaving struggling regions of America for cities, specifically for cities in Southern and coastal states.

There are clear economic reasons for their choice. Dense metro areas tend to produce more jobs and make workers more productive. Wages, for all kinds of workers, are also higher.

In theory, these incentives should prompt workers of all levels of education to move to metro areas. But moving outside one’s region is relatively rare these days, and even more rare for someone without a college degree.

The author, Quoctrung Bui, continues with a look at certain components driving the change — suggesting urban density is among the important drivers:

Generally, Rust Belt and Midwest states like Ohio, Michigan and Iowa, and Plains states like South Dakota and Nebraska have seen the largest net losses in younger, college-educated people.

The places that are gaining college graduates tend to be coastal and Southern states like California, Maryland, Texas and South Carolina. Two exceptions to this trend are New York and Massachusetts, states that also produce a large number of college graduates to begin with.

Read the full article online an the New York Times website.

Capital Spending Options Offered Up

At the Spending Affordability Committee meeting on November 18, analysts from the General Assembly’s Department of Legislative Services (DLS) offered options for modest growth in state capital spending in the years ahead.

The staff options follow on the recommendations of the Capital Debt Affordability Committee (CDAC), who recently recommended flat capital funding of $995 million for the coming year and onward:

CDAC recommends authorizing $995 million in general obligation (GO) bonds for the fiscal 2018 capital program. For planning purposes, the committee also recommends maintaining annual expenditures at $995 million through fiscal 2026.

…noting that the proposed level of funding remains below the State’s long-held limitations for borrowing:

• CDAC’s policy is that State tax-supported debt outstanding should not exceed 4.0% of Maryland personal income, and State tax-supported debt service payments should not exceed 8.0% of State revenues.

In the staff report, DLS lays out two options for capital spending beginning in FY 2018:

Increasing Authorizations by 1% Annually — effectively allowing the funding to grow by 1% per year, still lower than the state’s forecasted growth in property tax revenues, the funding source for debt service

Increasing Authorizations to 2015 SAC Level — effectively re-setting spending levels to that recommended by the Spending Affordability Committee a year ago, namely $1.065 billion

Both suggestions, with fiscal ripple effects laid out in detail in the staff report, would remain below the two spending limit ratios described above through fiscal 2022, the full period analyzed.

The Spending Affordability Committee will make its recommendations later this year, as an input into the considerations of the budget and related policies by the General Assembly.

More Space for Ms. Frizzle

An article in Governing highlights the success of schools that attract top-notch educators and principals and give them flexibility and authority.

Ms. Frizzle often carries out unorthodox curriculum on the TV Show, the Magic School Bus. Image courtesy of Scholastic.

Indianapolis’ focus on attracting quality leaders and teachers over the last decade has delivered quality results according to a recent article in Governing. A report issued by a non-profit spurred Indianapolis to experiment with creating “operationally autonomous schools,” and some results have been encouraging.

From Governing,

The report called for the creation of operationally autonomous schools, regardless of whether they were charters or traditional schools, that were still directly accountable to the school district but free of restrictive collective bargaining agreements and governed by separate boards. The recommendations spurred significant public discussion, and the next election cycle saw several school board members elected on a reform platform.

The result was the creation of what are called “Innovation Network Schools” launched by the Mind Trust. Indianapolis now has nine of these schools, with more to come, that are accountable to and part of the Indianapolis Public Schools but whose teachers and principals operate with significant entrepreneurial freedom and with an authority to mold their schools as they see fit.

High quality teachers and school-level flexibility were also touted as key elements to a successful education system by Mark Tucker in a recent presentation to Maryland’s Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education. Maryland counties have two representatives on the Commission, which is charged with making recommendations for legislative reform of Maryland’s School system by December 2018.

For more information, see Innovation in Education: Unleashing the Talent from Governing and More Money, Same Problems in K-12 Education on Conduit Street.

“C” Your Business In This Community College Program

Carroll County Community College’s “Advantage C” creates development and networking opportunities for businesses.

As reported by the Carroll County Times, Carroll County Community College is re-branding its business community relationship through a program called Advantage C,


“Advantage C helps businesses build their employees’ skills and competencies,” Karen Merkle, vice president for continuing education and training, said in the release. “The college offers highly-relevant corporate services, developed from best practices in training and development.”

For more information, see Carroll Community College rebrands its business outreach efforts.

Montgomery Schools Adopt Post-Labor Day Start for 2017

The Board had previously raised concerns with the calendar mandated by the Governor’s Executive Order.


As reported in the Bethesda Beat,

The board agreed to follow Governor Larry Hogan’s executive order signed in August that required all school districts to start school after Labor Day beginning with the 2017-2018 school year. Initially, the board had said it would seek a waiver and also developed options that included starting school before Labor Day, as in past years.

For more information, see School Board Votes To Start School After Labor Day Next Year from the Bethesda Beat.

For background, see  Montgomery Board of Education to Apply for Labor Day Waiver.