Notes on the Apr 25 Board of Education Meeting

by Laura Rammelsberg

To view the agenda for the April 25 Board meeting, go here.

Board members Patricia Eubanks (ill), Lupi Quinteros-Grady (ill), Mary Roche (expecting baby, due this week), and Beverly Anderson were not present.

All items under 8.0 Governance struck from the agenda.

At 17:03 in the video. Report of the Chair

Honored the lives of three middle schoolers who passed away recently.

This was the 31st season of the Science Bowl for PGCPS. Glen Arden Woods ES and Martin Luther King Jr. MS won the bowl this season. Congratulated the students.

Congratulated Brandywine ES, local partners and community volunteers for their outdoor garden/classroom. This effort reflects a great partnership with a community who helped to make the school more beautiful and ready-to-learn.

At 21:19. Board Member Raaheela Ahmed — April 12 she co-sponsored Bowie HS Annex challenge to raise their GPAs. 100 students enrolled in the challenge and 30% achieved the goal. This grassroots collaboration was a success, and Board Member Ahmed would like to see more projects like it across the county. Important to encourage growth in our students. Board Member Ahmed acknowledged some of the Bowie HS students and parents in the audience.

May 11 Board Meeting is at 5 pm.

At 23:53. Report of the CEO

PARCC is in progress in schools across the County. Students start this test in 3rd Grade. Parents should ensure students are well-rested.

Congratulated PGCPS Teacher of the Year Carolyn Marzke of Ridgecrest Elementary School, and the runners-up.

Washington Post Principal of the Year and Teacher of the Year — Denise Dunn, Principal of Ridgecrest Elementary School and teacher at Maria Wood of William Hall Academy were nominated for this honor and have made the list of finalists.

Please thank teachers during National Teacher Appreciation Week (May 8 – May 12). Theme is “Teachers Deliver.” Tag photos with #thankateacher to PGCPS twitter account (#PGCPS)

Legislative Report posted in BoardDocs, link to PDF here.

Board Committee Reports

At 27:43. Board Member Curtis Valentine, Chair of Policy & Legislative Committee — Established a priority at beginning of the year to review and assess current policies. Four main goals:

  1. student safety
  2. student equity
  3. health and wellness
  4. teacher quality and pipeline programs

Reviewed travel policy. Looked at Board Handbook to make sure meetings are timely and efficient. Active in participating in MD Legislative Session, testified in Annapolis. Represent Maryland Association of Boards of Education Legislative Committee. Review of minority-based enterprises policy to ensure equity. First Minority-based Enterprises Policy Advisory Board Meeting will be in May. Reviewing student safety/administrative leave policies. Rights of substitute teachers, rights of teachers to communicate with substitute in their absence. Ensuring timely case review. Their committee meetings are public and public can participate. Dates of their meetings are on their website. You can email him as well.

At 32:21. Board Vice Chair Boston, Chair of Governance Committee­ — Congratulated Mr. Brown and team for recognition they received for their finance work. This Committee identifies activities to increase knowledge and skill sets of Board members — professional development of the Board. Last report was in November. Held January committee meeting. Board retreat held on February 3-4. At the retreat, board reviewed book, Courageous Conversations on Race, by Glen Singleton, that anchored a conversation on equity. Also had CEO/Administration presentation on Strategic Plan, updates from all Board committee chairs on their committees. Board was briefed on internal / external communications. March and April meetings discussed equity and Equity Task Force. First meeting of Equity Task Force was held on April 1. This task force will report to Board on a monthly basis. The first report is due on April 1, 2018.

Public Comment on Non-Agenda Items

At 40:30Mt. Rainer K-6 Language Immersion — Parent would like to implement language immersion in Mt. Rainer ES. Cultural mix of PGC is quite vast, our greatest needs are for investments in the future for the county and the country. America is becoming more diverse and he applauds the Board for the programs they are implementing to help the students to learn better. He commends the CEO for his letter to the head of Homeland Security and drawing a line of safety around our community.

At 44:00. District Heights ES — Parent gave very emotional testimony about chemicals released within the school. It is not a safe environment. Contractors walking in and out without badges who don’t sign in and just walk through the building. The children need to be moved until the work is done. The chemicals released today were harmful. The parent and her children had headaches. Other children feeling sick. 40% of the teachers weren’t there because they are sick. It is not safe for the children to be in that building. The children are there to get an education and not to get sick or die. The band-aids are fine, but get the children out while the rest of the work is done. They need help and they need the Board to do something.

For some background on the issues at District Heights ES, see this WJLA news report.

At 47:34. High Point HS Start Time — Start time used to be 7:45, was changed to 8:45 and proposed start time is 9:45. This affects graduation rate, because students are coming in late from the buses. [Showed late slips from two classrooms – two large bags full]. High Point HS is designated as a priority by the state, and this needs to be considered when assigning a start time. Many students work. Start time needs to go back to 7:45. There are a lot of bus problems. One teacher has 15 children that come in late due to late buses. An earlier start time would help bring up student graduation rate. Speaker had a student, parent and teacher survey that informs how their school community feels about the start time. 82% were against the change to a later start time. Asked BOE to consider changing the time to earlier.

At 51:11. Child Protective Services (CPS), as it Relates to Bus Drivers and Attendants — PGCPS Bus Driver commented on CPS cases in the school system. When accused a driver is placed on Administrative Leave, the wait is anywhere from 2 – 8 months for the investigation to be done. When cleared, there has been no apology from accuser, school or Transportation Department. Some children are lying, to get bus driver or attendant kicked off the bus. If there is video evidence proving their innocence, it should not take months for them to be cleared.

At 53:41. Tayac ES — School has poor leadership and needs new leadership. Speaker’s son had brain concussion and asthma attack due to incident at school. Her child was also told he cannot go to the bathroom when he needs to. Hostile and unsafe environment. There is no school nurse b/c they have “no budget for one.”  School and its budget needs to be investigated.

At 56:24. Local 2250: Support Your Support System — Shirley Kirkland, President of Local 2250 (6,000 members) spoke. PGCPS is exposing children and staff to life-threatening pollutants. Children and staff have a right to be in a safe environment. Facilities need to be inspected. Schools particularly inside the beltway have these issues. She also asked if Agenda Items 6.1- 6.14 include no mention of the amount of wage increases and whether it should it be included.

At 1:00:04. CEO Maxwell’s Budget — Food service worker in PGCPS. They are short-staffed, they lack of proper working equipment. Yet, they do these jobs because they want to contribute to the children in their communities. “We are part of the village that it takes to raise a child.” Employees work off-the-clock since work needs to be done, but the overtime was not approved (or paid). Please make sure employee wages are considered in budget.

At 1:02:17. 2018 Operating Budget — Employee of PGCPS. Even though PGCPS has challenges, they make it work. Employees serve in schools, kitchens, offices of PGCPS. They heard that the BOE has recognized their work by giving them $10 million more in budget. Asked BOE to take the vote of confidence and go further – approve Dr. Maxwell’s budget.

At 1:04:32. District Heights ES — Theresa Dudley, Prince Georges County Educator’s Association (PGCEA) spoke. She wanted to share, Donna Christy, school psychologist, was selected as the 2017 MSPA of the Year. It has been a great year for us. The budget looks good: increasing Peer Assistance and Review (PAR), looking forward to compensation enhancements, including PGCPA in medical review plans for the year.  That was a good experience. She pleased about the Teacher Academy being in the budget.

On April 5 Dudley submitted a letter on behalf of the teachers of District Heights to Dr. Maxwell. The request asked that the students and staff at District Heights be relocated due to air quality concerns. She was remiss at the last board meeting when she heard testimony concerning the school. When staff is walking around with two inhalers and staff members saying that they have run out of leave, there is a problem. Principal and staff are sick. The unusual fumes complaint was ignored. All labor unions asked for staff and students to be moved. She asked again to please move them so the children and staff can have some relief.

At 1:09:15. Proposed Restrictions to Public Comments — Speaker concerned that Prince George’s County citizens’ civil liberties are at stake and requested that public comments policy not be changed.

For some background on proposed changes to BOE Public Comments Policy see this Sentinel article, “Board of Ed Considers Policies Restricting Public Comment,” April 12, 2017.

At 1:10:24. Board Member Blocker — [was cut off shortly after he started his comment] thanked parent for coming out and bringing attention to the issue at District Heights.

Consent Agenda

At 1:11:19. Items 5.1, 5.2

All in favor

  • National Asian / Pacific American Heritage Month, May 2017
  • National School Nurses Day, May 10

Budget Consent Agenda

At 1:12:22. Items 6.1-6.14

(Dr. Maxwell described these as items that are routinely moving forward.)

All in favor.

Board Member Ahmed on items 6.05 – 6.07  Asked what is being done to update schools that don’t have elevators to 2nd floors. The entire facility should be accessible. She It is important to check for others across the County.

Answer: They need to look into the schools Board Member Ahmed talked about: Heather Hills, Tulip Grove and Kennilworth.

Board Member Ahmed — Those are just 3 schools I know about; there are likely more in the County and that should be looked into.

First Readers (Require No Discussion), Items 9.1-9.10

9.3 AND 9.4 were put aside by moves by Mr. Burroughs & Mr. Valentine, the others were voted on together

9.1 – 9.2 / 9.5 – 9.10
All in favor

At 1:19:07. 9.3 Renewal of Imagine Foundations at Leeland Public Charter School
Mr. Valentine had a question about the application in general.

Answer: Renewal application is done by the District, but the school asked for it. Request for professional development waiver; they have worked over the years in addressing their requests for certain situations.

Regional Director Imagine Schools  Reason for the waiver is how the school leaders are out of the building as they had to serve dual-role meeting compliances of County AND Imagine Schools. They want to get a balance where they are getting professional development from the District. 

Board Member Valentine: Imagine Schools requested a lottery?

Regional Director Imagine Schools  The lottery situation is a model. Based on the success of the model at another school.  They have the system in place to do their own lottery alongside PGCPS.

Board Member Burroughs: Do you expect a different outcome from a PGCPS lottery?

Regional Director Imagine Schools  They will be able to manage it more if they (Imagine Schools) do the lottery.  They can assess with streamlining parents to get “scholars” into their program. All students will still have access.

Board Member Burroughs: He wants to make sure all children had access to quality schools and thanked the staff of that school that was here.  It was the highest performing Imagine school in the District.

At 1:25:16. 9.4 Renewal for College Park Academy Public Charter School

Some information about College Park Academy and how it was established can be found in this Washington Post article, “College Park Academy charter school, connected to U-Md., is officially opened,” October 21, 2013

Yes – Boston, Hernandez, Valentine, Wallace, Williams, Dr. Eubanks.
Abstain – Ahmed, Blocker, Murray
No – Burroughs

**Short of Majority.  Remains a 1st Reader on the BOE Agenda. Come back to it as 1st Reader at the next meeting.**

Board Member Burroughs  Asked for comment about successes of College Park Academy.  Asked about new building.

College Park Academy Board Member  introduced others from school

College Park Academy Executive Director  They scored high on state assessments for last 4 years.

College Park Academy Interim Principal  They met or exceeded standards for PARCC as compared to PGCPS peers. They have high school now and they exceeded expectations for Algebra scores for them. More recent data they have exceeded expectations and outperformed PGCPS peers. They will be moving around the corner and will be moving on UMD property. 

College Park Academy Board Member  It was roughly about end of the summer that they committed to this building, which didn’t leave a lot of time for construction. St. John Properties doing a good job. He thanked the UMD system for helping them with this. Truly a collaborative effort.

College Park Academy Executive Director  Building is 80% complete. State-of-the-art facility. Health and Wellness component to initiate fitness in classroom. Students will be able to have internships at the UMD Campus and possibly attend AP classes at UMD.

Board Member Burroughs  He is supportive of them and the new facility, but is concerned about 35% catchment area.

College Park Academy Board Member  He appreciates Board Member Burroughs concerns. UMD wants to improve services to local community. The charter law allows 35% catchment area. Serving the local community is value and recognized, but the catch if you will, in order to qualify, the students must come from households that are equal to or less than the median income of the community. So, they are mirroring the County demographics. That’s for the 35%; 65% they are still open to everyone.

Board Member Burroughs  He wants to make sure that students everywhere in the County have equal access to those services. When you talk about out-performing the district and the new facility – equity is discussed a lot. He thanked University for having this conversation, but the children in his district will never be within a catchment area.  Equal access is important and he doesn’t want to exclude or give preference for anybody.

At 1:36:56. College Park Academy Board Member  He respects Board Member Burroughs goals but Board Member Burroughs made a comment about the University wanting to serve its employees and families. That isn’t isn’t quite true – they want to serve the community. It’s simply a matter of geography. 

Board Burroughs  Geography gives preference in PGC. If you live in the North of the County you have preference.

College Park Academy Board Member  UMD and College Park Academy are discussing how they leverage and scale the program. But you have to walk before you run. They need to scale up. Once they get into a steady state and they proved the hybrid learning model they have a lot of talk about.

Board Burroughs  Why not give all children access now?

College Park Academy Board Member They view it as the University doing a service to the surrounding community. There are a limited number of spaces in the school and there’s a process to decide who goes there due to the limited number of spaces at the moment, until they are able to scale up.

Dr. Eubanks  reminded everyone that this is 1st Reader, they are not voting on it tonight.

Board Member Ahmed  Thanked College Park Academy for the tour. She thinks its amazing. Do you know what percentage of students belong to the catchment area of the proposal?

Answer: 77 students of 536 (14.4 %) live in the catchment area at the 6th grade level.

Board Member Ahmed  This school will not relieve overcrowding in area. She understands Mr. Burroughs point they need to represent all of the students in the community.

At 1:45:02. Answer: Charter Imagine Andrews has a catchment area. 65% set aside for military families. 35% are reserved for students who don’t live on base. This UMD school is governed by a similar law.

Dr. Eubanks  BOE and PGCPS’ job is to provide equitable learning (not necessarily exactly the same). There are dozens of specialty programs within PGC with geographical limits. It is not College Park’s responsibility to provide equitable education across the district. There are creative ways to find a balance. He will ask College Park Academy about the different ideas PGCPS can use innovations from College Park.

College Park Academy Executive Director  They opened up their summer program, which is virtual. Any student in PGCPS can take their class virtually over the summer. They advertised on the PGC website as well. They have discussed professional development. They have some work to do internally. They are training their teachers to become trainers. There are many ideas they have – can they train principals? They have plenty of conversations about this and recognize how hard this model is to implement correctly.

Board Member Hernandez  What are the demographics of who is applying to the Academy?

Principal College Park Academy: They will look at who is applying through the lottery. Current demographics: 5% have 504 plan. 6% have IEPs. 36% are free and reduced lunch. 5% Asian, 14.5% Latino, 10% white, 65% African America 5.5% two of more races.

Board Member Hernandez  Can you speak to the investment that UMD has made to the program?

College Park Academy Board Member  Biggest investment from UMD is sweat equity. He leaves it to others to value that. They have used their credit to build the building. They have invested tens of millions of dollars in building the school and lost money; they could have made more money by selling the property to someone else. They don’t come to this activity as some independent body they are a public education body – the money from the PGCPS goes back into the education of the students. The Board members are not paid.

Board Member Hernandez  Although this isn’t the solution to the overcrowding issue in the North of the District, this helps at least a bit. They are bursting at the seams. She appreciates what the catchment area affords her District.

At 1:54:48. Board Member Williams  Thanked them for the information and the tour. Her eyes are opened to the possibilities. She looks forward to learning from their success. She asked for further explanation of the 35% in catchment area criteria. Confirm that they are looking for households under a certain income in the County?

Answer: Law public charter school geographic household median income $74,260 (County). Median income for catchment area $59,000. Its less than.

Board Member Williams: So they are looking for areas where there are people living below a certain income level in the community.

Answer: Yes. That is required by law.

Board Member Williams: This 35% or geographical area you are talking about it is specifically trying to catch students that are a certain income bracket or academic achievement?

College Park Academy Board Member  The law allows them to serve up to 35% for local geographic area – that area must have a median income at or below and they had to go beyond College Park to get those students.

Answer: They couldn’t just include College Park because they couldn’t meet the law requirements – had to expand beyond that jurisdiction.

Board Member Williams: She understands the need to reach the people close by. They are able to catch a larger group of people by expanding the catchment area. How do the other 65% get to school?

College Park Academy Executive Director — Parents are paying private charter buses to come to the school. School does not not pay for transportation.

CEO Maxwell  None of our charters provide transportation.

Board Member Murray  What is the geographic area consist of? A lot of College Park – what other areas?

Answer: A map will be forwarded to the BOE.

Dr. Eubanks asking question for Board Member Quinteros-Grady: How many students from the South are applying to the school?

Answer: They will provide that. They will have much closer proximity to the metro at new location.

Board Member Burroughs: Academies all throughout the County. North of the County have access to those academies. With the Imagine at Andrews, there are other Imagine Schools throughout the County. Question he has is 35% geographic catchment area non-negotiable?

CEO Maxwell  it is what the law allows for, that is what Administration agreed to.

College Park Academy Board Member  This has been a University priority for years and he is not in a position to take a step back from that.

Answer: One of their requests from the beginning was to have a catchment area. Folks lobbied around the state for Charters to have catchment area. Original request was modified– had preference for university employees. Wanted to get more employees to live in PGC. This is not allowed under state law, they are not asking for it anymore. Catchment area has been significantly modified. 

Board Member Burroughs: It is better, but can get a whole lot better. The kids in the South and Central parts of the County deserve that.

Motion to Approve Actions Taken in Executive Session (Agenda Item 12.1)

All in favor

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