Notes on the June 22 Board of Education Meeting

by Laura Rammelsberg

To view the agenda for the meeting in BoardDocs, go here.

All Board Members Present

2.0 Adoption of Agenda

At 3:19 in the video. Motion by Board Member David Murray to add to the agenda (as an an emergency item) a discussion of the proposal to update administrative leave policies , given the “record-breaking numbers of teachers, bus drivers, principals, assistant principals, guidance counselors, employees at all levels of the system that have been caught up in our administrative leave policies and are out unjustly, some without pay, some with pay, for extended periods of time . . .”

8 ayes/6 nays — to add Board Member Murray’s motion to the agenda. Required a two thirds majority vote; motion did not carry.

At 5:35. Motion by Edward Burroughs to allow all members of the public who signed up prior to the deadline to speak during the public comments. Motion ruled out of order by Dr. Eubanks.

4 ayes/8 nays/2 abstains — vote to overrule the chair’s decision to enforce public comment policy. Motion did not carry; policy limiting public comments to 15 remained in force.

Minutes from June 7, 2017 board work session and June 13, 2017 operating budget public hearing were approved.

Report of the Chair

At 13:19. Gave honor to two members at their last board meeting. Student Board Member Blocker was thanked for his service with a $5,000 scholarship for college and a certificate.

At 14:18. Student Board Member Blocker (remarks) — Showed photograph of himself with the late Principal Tanya Washington and honored her for supporting him. Thanked his family and community. It takes a village to get a person where they are. He held true to his promise that he would advocate and vote his conscious and get more students involved politically and civically. Words of advice to colleagues: it is an honor to serve the students. He is concerned with the amount of politics that gets in the way of helping the students.”We will continue to be second to the bottom if we continue to let politics get in the way of our decision making.” Thanked Board Members Murray, Ahmed, Burroughs and Dr. Anderson. There is a lot of work to do. Encourages the community to be as active as possible. 2018 is a big year; vote out certain individuals.

At 18:46. Dr. Eubanks gave honor to Dr. Beverly Anderson, who has served with great skill and integrity. Pushed to advance student achievement and make program offerings stronger than ever. Thanked her for her hard work and dedication. A plaque presented to her.

At 20:19. Dr. Beverly Anderson (remarks) – thanked students, faculty staff, adminstrators and Board and her family for her experiences as a member of the Board of Education. She learned a tremendous amount. She hopes she has positively impacted the schools.  Your work has not gone unnoticed. We strive always to get better. We must stand ready to receive acknowledge and respond to areas we are not strong. We can get there; we can work together to get there. If you don’t recognize the problem, there won’t be a solution. As a private citizen, she will remain involved. Sometimes it takes the storm before the calm. Once we get that calm we can start moving in the direction to ensure that all students will get a quality education.

At 23:00. Board Member Burroughs – thanked Student Board Member Blocker for his service. He is one of the most dynamic student board members they have had. He also thanked Dr. Anderson for her support. She has taught him many lessons that he will take with him forever including the importance of having integrity. We can be successful while being ethical. He presented a certificate from Board Members Burroughs, Ahmed, Murray, and Blocker to her.

Board Member Murray — presented a certificate to School Board Member Blocker.  Thanked him for his sacrifice so that all students have a better education.

Chair’s Board Report

At 28:18. Dr. Eubanks recognized a few students for their great academic achievement and success in overcoming obstacles. Academy of Health Sciences student and cancer survivor Alyiah Ellsworth completed her studies and will attend Howard University on full scholarship in the Fall. Fairmont High School graduate Michelle Adams overcame obstacles through support from school-based youth advocates and is now the recipient of a scholarship to Stevenson University. Anne Alfa received has battled sickle cell anemia and has received a half million dollars in scholarship offers, will be attending St. Mary’s College in the Fall. Congratulated the class of 2017 for their accomplishments.

Curtis Valentine and Dr. Eubanks celebrated with 400 men at the Men of PGCPS Ceremony and gave them awards, but they forgot one in the ceremony. Troy Alston is an educator at Bladensburg HS. Understands his position as a role model in the community.

At 32:52. Chair took personal privilege. A lot has gone on this week, this year. Read an email he received from a former student who had been in his Upward Bound program. She is a principal of a high school now. She thanked him and said that she was glad he did not give up on her. Dr. Eubanks dedicated that letter to all the educators in the room.

He agrees with Board Member Blocker that politics get in the way of what is important.

Report of the CEO

At 35:43. Congratulated class of 2017.  They collectively received $151 million of scholarship offers.

Summer is in session. He encouraged everyone to visit the pgcps.org website to get activity packets and reading lists. Summer meals at schools and libraries started this week. PGCPS serves its students all year long.  He thanked Board Member Blocker and Dr. Anderson for their service.

At 37:13. Addressed the claims of corruption of our graduation rates. His team has spent the last 4 years focused on giving our students the same access to same supports as their peers across the state. The false allegations against our graduation rates denigrate why teachers teach and why principals lead. They are a personal attack on every employee in this system. He is the only one of his siblings to receive a high school diploma.

There has been no systemic effort to promote students in order to inflate graduation rates. New grading procedure puts us on par with our neighboring school systems. Focused on giving students multiple pathways to success. He and the administration are open to discussing ways to improve. He will not accept the complete mischaracterizing of PGCPS and the hard work of our students and staff. Our students and staff are amazing, and it is about time we treat public education with the dignity and respect that our community deserves.

3.0 Public Comment on Agenda and Non-Agenda Items 

At 43:06. Dual Spanish Immersion student from Cesar Chavez Elementary — Spoke in Spanish. Asked board members and Dr. Maxwell to support the Spanish Language Immersion Program.

At 46:29. Another student from Cesar Chavez – Please Continue to support the Spanish Immersion Program.

At 47:38. PTO President at Cesar Chavez — She asked the county to continue to fund the program, so that it can maintain its quality and integrity.

At 49:14. Theresa Dudley, PGCEA President — She wishes the media had been at Flowers HS when fathers and educators were honored. We have issues, but we have to look at the harm we do to our children when we don’t work as adults when we don’t solve our problems. Restorative practices teach our children that their actions can do harm. Make sure that the Restorative Practices program is included in the budget this year. Children should stay in the classroom learning.  All of this controversy is taking away the focus from the children. Stay focused on the needs of the new educators, mentor teachers for them, that teachers are compensated fairly. She wants to make sure children can eat. That the National Board Certification teachers are honored. Stay focused on our school system.  There’s a lot of stuff going on now that gives her great pause, not one side or the other but everybody. She’s here for the children. Educators are here for the children. If you have questions about her members call her.

At 54:19. PreK Teacher in PGCPS — CEO can make recommendations, but this board will own the final results.  Fund the priorities PGCEA has identified, including reinstating Healthy Start Breakfast and funding cultural competency training. How can we expect the situation to get better without training for our employees? Money to allow for fair negotiations must be a priority for this budget. Teachers have not received step increases; those stopped. They were promised that steps would be reimplemented when things got better. Teachers and staff who make a difference in student’s lives, they have not received step increases yet. Baker gave county employees raises, but not educators.

At 58:22. Parent of Cesar Chavez Dual Spanish Immersion student – Asked the board to continue to support the language immersion programs in the county. Students the board has heard from have made his point more eloquently than him. A study on dual-language immersion showed that by 8th grade, students assigned to dual-language immersion programs were performing reading levels one grade in excess of their grade level.

At 1:00:39. College Park City Council Member, board member and parent at College Park Academy — Asked for support of College Park Academy. They took a leap of faith sending their son to College Park Academy. They still have some work to do with the school. He would like to see the program continue and the outcomes it has when it reaches maturity. Schools are better when local families are involved. Even with the catchment area, 2 of 3 seats will still be filled by students from the county-wide lottery. Through the hard work of the partnership of UMD and PGCPS, we are starting to see the benefits of College Park Academy.

At 1:04:36. Student from Henry Wise HS — He spoke on behalf of all students, particularly the ones who aren’t as great in academics, and talk about how to help those students. He wanted to find a way to embrace students’ passions and not force them to learn things that won’t apply to their lives. Educational system doesn’t embrace his passions; he wanted to get his voice heard. Students getting an education would prevent things going on in the news, so that our young community and future generation aren’t working jobs that they hate.

At 1:08:03. Retired Professor of Mathematics from UMD — Concerned that increasingly many college students need remediation in math and reading. In 2005, 2500 African American students graduated from the school system and went to a Maryland college, and only 1400 were at college-level reading. Used Duval HS as an example -– students there were seriously behind in reading. Every parent needs to receive the data for their child’s high school. Something similar is happening with mathematics. More African-American students are going to college, and fewer know arithmetic and Algebra I than they should. In 2005, there were almost 3 African American women freshman for every 2 African American men. School culture is boy unfriendly. Come up with a boy-friendly culture.

At 1:11:49. Shirley Kirkland, president of Local 2250 — She has been speaking at board meetings since April 2016. Much of what she has shared has fallen on deaf ears. Enough is enough. We must stop pointing fingers and take corrective action. This requires accountability. Why do employees face intimidation but can’t properly receive their earned compensation? Why should they have to fight for fair wages?  The school district did more with less money, but the CEO has been asking for more funds. If moneys were allocated properly, there should be money in the reserve. Staff have worked with skeletal staffing without necessary equipment and unsafe equipment. She is ashamed and saddened at what they have allowed to happen. Some parents know that their children did not attend school, but still graduated. Reports are destroying employees and their families. An employee task force should be developed for the workers of the school district. Please fully support your support system in this budget.

At 1:15:41. Tracie Miller, principal of Gywnn Park HS (surrounded by other principals and administrators) — Statement from HS principals in regards to the graduation rate allegations. They as high school principals are extremely offended about the allegations and hurtful accusations. The headline of fake diplomas stains all of us. It makes our families, communities and students question the value of PGCPS diploma. Shouldn’t we want to set the bar for graduation within the grasp of our students? When we are finally gaining momentum, some question or cast doubt on our student’s accomplishments.  Amazing teachers giving their knowledge and time to each student so they learn the content – involves the amazing students giving more of their time as they work harder to take multiple courses and additional assignments, involves parents, principals and instructional leaders analyzing data to determine courses children need to have a path to academic success.There are multiple ways for students to be successful.

2.9 Board Committee Report 

At 1:20:42. Board Member Roche, chair of Academic Achievement Committee -– They discussed PARCC scores, achievement gaps and discipline of students. They went to two schools to learn about the Transforming Neighborhoods program. The committee discussed ways to promote their success across the system.

4.0 Budget Consent Agenda

At 1:24:01. Items 4.02 – 4.18 of the Budget Consent Agenda

Items approved

At 1:26:56. Item 4.01.

CEO Maxwell — He is recommending approval of the FY2 018 Operating Budget of $1,975,443,500, which includes internal adjustments based on board and community input. Increased maintenance supports. Literacy / Language Immersion / Budget does a lot but not everything they would like. Asked Board to pass it.

Mr. Brown — FY 2018 budget reconciliation is a result of countless compromises in the effort to produce a balanced budget. Needed to close a $75 million funding gap. Tough choices needed to be made. As a results of June 7 budget work session, June 13 public hearing, online public survey, and meetings with staff, they presented a revised reconciled budget that added back 2 mentor teachers, 2 peer assistance and review teachers, 1 coordinator for restorative practices pilot program, and they restored the healthy start breakfast program funding. We recommend you approve it.

Board Member Boston, chair of Finance, Audit, and Budget (FAB) Committee — Overview of the CEO Reconciliation. Compromises had to be made. She fully supports those compromises. This budget process was the most collaborative she has witnessed. Budget office posted online survey and board had 3 public sessions and hearings. FAB committee requested additional online survey. When the survey closed it had 1,100 responses. On June 13, the FAB committee voted to recommend the FY 2018 budget reconciliation budget to the entire board. That exact reconciliation was presented tonight. She recommends passing it.

At 1:32:35. Board Member Murray — Suggests an amendment, $2 million as a cut from central office. Funding allocation to central office has increased by more than $5 million in the past year. Have that $2 million be directed to reserves for employee compensation.  To let our employees know that we value them.

Mr. Brown — This could cost mandated costs. Folks thing of central office as something different. It involves people, programs and legal mandates that need to be carried out.  They need more the names of programs Board Member Murray would like eliminated and how many positions in order to take that $2 million out.

Board Member Williams — The ceiling of last year’s budget becomes the floor of this years’ budget. Thanked the budget office for their support.

Board Member Burroughs — On page 10, there is $11.4 million set aside for negotiated amendments. How much would it cost to give a 1% raise? (Answer: $11 million.) You need to treat amazing staff like you mean it. Board Member Murray’s amendment is modest. He was trying to compromise.  $2 million is a drop in the bucket. We have more executives than neighboring school systems. Surely we can find $2 million in the $2 billion budget for the teachers.

Answers: The $11 million is for contracts where they have completed negotiation where there is a 3-year-agreement.  It funds the 3rd year. For balance of negotiations that were completed. 

Board Member Boston — Add amendment to Murray’s motion, to ask the administration to find $2 million wherever they can (rather than specifically cutting the funds from central office) to add for contract negotiations.

Board Member Quinteros-Grady — Why don’t colleagues present these ideas at FAB meetings? Collaboration would be be great. She’s curious. She’s glad that Ms. Boston had her proposal. It’s great that you get the cheerleading, but there’s a lot of work that goes behind it. “Where were you all when when we were discussing these issues?”

Motion to amend Item 4.1: To find $2 million to add to contract negotiations.
All in Favor

At 1:41:42. Board Member Burroughs — MS and HS students who don’t have money for lunch and breakfast. Has that been addressed in the budget? It is impossible for them to learn. The administration committed to him that it would be fixed by this meeting. Is it fixed?

Answer: There is an administrative proceed to create funds for schools that helps schools to pay for students’ lunches. They are still looking into that. (Elementary Schools) Administrative procedures already care of students on free and reduced lunch. They are working on students who AREN’T on free or reduced lunch. They are working on this issue. 

CEO Maxwell — We are not ignoring the issue. We need to review administrative procedures. “Free students” are already taken care of. Reduced students have a smaller cost and a cost that they have agreed to take care of in the 2 weeks since the last board meeting. They will 100% cover free and reduced lunch. For children who don’t fall into free and reduced they are working on them being able to get on the program –- that is the group they are working on.

Board Chair Eubanks — This is not just a budget item. They are working on the solution.

At 1:47:15. Board Member Burroughs — Would like $200,000 added to AP exam fees (in addition to the $500,000 already allotted for students who qualify for free and reduced meals).

Discussion between Chair and Board Member Burroughs regarding whether he can debate the question, but not change the motion once it has been called. Board Member Valentine called the question.

Legal team said you can’t change the motion after the question was called. The debate continued.

At 1:52:26. Board Member Ahmed — Months ago, they approved a motion to add $4.25 million to maintenance, in addition to the $5.7 in additional funds in the CEO budget. The county council did not fund that. They added $5 million in major repair category. But the budget that they’re looking at now has only added a little under $2 million in maintenance. She would like to see something similar to what Ms. Boston mentioned -– a request for $3 million to ensure physically safe environments for the students. With the call to question she can’t make that motion. She requests that they vote not to pass this through so that they can have the extra amendments brought forward.

Board Member Murray — He has more serious amendments to add to the ones they already had. Shouldn’t pass a $2 billion budget without a discussion. He understands they do discuss that in committee, but public can’t go to those meetings.

Board Chair — There have been dozens of meetings on the budget. They have had lots of opportunity to make amendments before now.

 

Motion to suspend the rules:

2/3 majority needed  (without Student Board Member)

Yes — Ahmed, Burroughs, Murray,

No — Boston, Eubanks, Hernandez, Quinteros-Grady, Williams, Dr. Eubanks, Valentine

Roche — Abstain

Motion to approve Item 4.1 as amended — MOTION CARRIES

No — Ahmed, Burroughs, Murray,

Yes — Boston, Eubanks, Hernandez, Quinteros-Grady, Roche, Valentine, Wallace, William, Dr. Eubanks

 

At 2:01:086.0  Governance (Second readers / Unfinished Business)

Items 6.1 – 6.3, and 6.5
All in favor.

Item 6.4 Under Second Reader (College Park Academy)

No — Blocker, Burroughs

Yes — Boston, Eubanks, Hernandez, Murray, Quinteros-Grady, Roche, Valentine, Wallace, Williams, Dr. Eubanks

Abstain — Ahmed

Board Member Burroughs — College Park Academy re: 35% catchment area.

At 2:04:01. Justin Ross spoke on behalf of Dr. Loh who couldn’t be here. Mr. Ross is on the Board. They are confident and thank the UMD and the school system for incredible partnership. They appreciate the comments of the entire board and administration. In looking at the question about the catchment area ensuring equity with kids who have free and reduced lunch. Looking at the data, the FARMS (Free and Reduced Meals) rate for feeder schools in catchment area is 75% — higher than the school system average, more than twice many of the other charter schools in the system. They ask for their support tonight.

Board Member Burroughs — College Park Academy is a fantastic school. It has a brand-new showcase facility. Students will have access to internships at UMD and earned college credits. His concern by creating a geographic preference area is that some kids will have greater access than others. He thinks every student should have every right to be admitted to this program. His concern is that they don’t have data for the hundreds of students who are not in the public school system. There are students not in the school system that would have equal access to the  program. Possible to reserve or to weight FARMS within catchment area. They should have no problem problem meeting 65% FARMS rate. He would like to propose to weight the FARMS category so that it meets the school system demographics. What stops Bowie or Greenbelt from doing a catchment area like this? This sets a dangerous pattern -– so a compromise of requiring that 65% of students in the catchment rate qualify for FARMS.

Board Chair — That motion is out of order. It is a contract that was negotiated between the administration and UMD College Park. Board could decide to vote down the contract, but they can’t change a contract that’s been negotiated.

How is building a wall around an amazing program helping students?

CEO — The State of Maryland believed a catchment area was legal. Imagine Andrews has a catchment area. They worked on this for years and they wanted a smaller catchment area. It comports with the law. You can’t change one side of the contract. The charter with CPA expires on June 30.

At 2:13:02. Board Member Wallace — He agrees with Burroughs’s points regarding equity, and he truly believes that all of our charter schools should match FARMS demographics. This should include special education, ESOL, etc.  That conversation about a weighted criteria will come up in the task force and he will reach out to him to discuss.

Board Chair — So many people come to the board around boundary issues. They cut the catchment area so it would be equitable. To provide equitable access to everyone in the county. Opening the school to everybody is not the way to do it. Having a low-income parent pay for a bus to bring their child to school is not equitable. Need to provide quality services in their neighborhoods. The point is to learn from charter schools, study the innovations and replicate them in the schools.

CEO — And they have agreed to it and they are fully committed to that (i.e. to learn and implement the innovations).

Board Member Murray — What is the reasoning behind not making sure that the FARMS rate in the catchment area mirror the county? Board Member Burroughs has been asking for a compromise for over a month. Why hasn’t a compromise been made?

Executive Director of College Park Academy — They have sat in on numerous admission meetings. Families can’t afford transportation so can’t go to school. They have a large bus from District 8. It costs parents $300/$500 a month to pay for a bus to come to the school. Their catchment area will allow them to bring more low income families into the school. They don’t control who signs up for the lottery. They want to effect change in the state and county. College Park Academy is testing the waters for blended learning. They want to train teachers and principals in their model. They aren’t like Imagine; they aren’t a foundation. They want to establish a school that everyone can learn from.

State Delegate Joseline Pena-Melnyk — She hears the arguments about equity. We have all kinds of schools, we have career academies, dual enrollment at community college. When we fight in the MD House to bring back money for Prince George’s County, they are in those meetings raising hell to bring you money. They support Roosevelt, French Immersion Program. Not every child learns the same way, you can make the same argument about equity about the performing arts program. This is a unique opportunity here –- you have a university that is trying to work with us. Let’s not deter people from wanting to work with us.

At 2:24:50. Board Member Quinteros-Grady — Equity throughout county the complicated. It’s complex for a district of our size. Asked about early childhood learning in the North vs the South of the County. (Monica Goldson: We will be adding 32 pre-k sites for the 2017-2018 school year. They are located mainly in the southern part of the county due to capacity issue.) People are investing in the schools. Why would we not want that? She asks her colleagues to support College Park Academy.

Board Member Ahmed — She has been going back and forth because of the catchment area. It is concerning to her. She wanted some questions answered. It is a large English Language Learner (ELL) area, correct? What is being done to reach out to these families? What is being done to support the families in the school? How many in Hispanic community go to the school? She is supportive of CPA and UMD’s efforts, but she still has concerns and her vote will reflect that.

Answers: Catchment Area 62% Latino, 6% Asian, 19% African American

Yes, that is fair to say.  They direct families to PGCPS website. CASA de Maryland promotes it. State Delegate Pena-Melnyk is on a radio show every Saturday. She says the community is very aware. It is a mixed community, not majority Latino. Pena-Melnyk says most of the immigrant community lives in the 47th and 20th and 21st districts. They have staff who speak both languages. People do apply. It’s a lottery. You don’t know what the odds are. They are going against you. They do apply, and they are aware of it. 

College Park Academy is 14% Latino. That number is assumed to go up with the catchment area.

At 2:33:26. Board Member Valentine — Two issues: #1. Transportation funding for charter schools. Need to ensure they have more funding from the state for charter schools.  #2. Equity –- whether our school system is being funded at same rate as other systems in MD. We have a common enemy and his name is Larry Hogan. He cut $30 million from our school system and spent $30 million on a youth prison in Baltimore. He would love to have a conversation on equity in MD. Let’s question the governor’s ability to make things equitable across the education systems in the state. We can’t fund our system if we don’t have equity coming out of our governor’s office. Let’s come together as a board and take on that common enemy.

Board Member Roche — She encourages them to come together with the board and track the numbers for FARMS students. They would like to see that number go up this year and share their strategies on how they get those students in. She believes the school should be a resource for their community. Will the school be open on evenings, weekends, to families and community members?

Answer: They are renting from a church. So opening evenings and weekends before the move is not possible. When they get their new facility they will have access 24 – 7. They will open it up to community programs free of charge. They are a flagship school, but they are perfecting the model and trying new things. Their online summer school program is open to all students across the county.

Board Member Hernandez — ELL students in catchment area are in districts of two Latino board members. They will make sure the community knows about the school. She would like to call the question.

At 2:45:46. Board Member Burroughs — If you mention Trump and Hogan, you should mention Baker. Debate on the budget was cut off earlier. You have equal access to dual enrollment, no matter where you live in the county. French Immersion has equal access. This is the only other program where students can earn college credits, and there is not one in the south of the county. He is willing to believe that Dr. Loh tried to find compromise. He urges them to get more poor students access to the school. He thanked Justin Ross and Delegate Pena-Melnyk. He looks forward to working with them, hopes they develop a plan for the poor students, ELL and special education students.

Board Chair — It’s the board’s job to provide equitable access no matter where they live.  They need to focus on improving the quality of the schools in the south. The access he wants to push for is getting the programs from CPA into other schools in the county. Specialty programs across the board have fewer FARMS students than the county average. We are going to learn from them and spread the expertise and innovation across the county.

7.0 New Business (First readers)

7.1 – 7.3 All in favor. Motion Carries.

9.0 Follow Up Items

Will be posted in Board Docs.

Items taken in Executive Session
All in favor.

10.0 Motion to Approve Actions taken in Executive Session

2 thoughts on “Notes on the June 22 Board of Education Meeting

    • demosgen says:

      Laura Rammelsberg is a PGCPS parent. She attended the board meeting and took notes. I edited them and added the time-stamped video links. — Genevieve Kelley

      Like

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