War Over School Calendar Intensifies: ‘Marylanders Will Have the Final Say’

The State House debate over whether the school year in Maryland should start after Labor Day reached a fevered pitch Thursday. Voting along party lines, the state Senate gave preliminary approval to legislation from Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Chair Paul G. Pinsky (D-Prince George’s) that would empower local school districts to determine when schools should open. Moments earlier, Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) vowed to mount a multi-layered defense of his 2016 executive order mandating that schools everywhere open after Labor Day. It has become a political test of wills for Hogan and the Democrats who control the General Assembly, belying leaders’ regular contention that Maryland does not experience the partisan food fights that have paralyzed the federal government. (Md. Matters)

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Baltimore County schools are rapidly adding students. More than half are immigrants or speak another language.

Baltimore County’s school system is absorbing a wave of immigrants that has fueled rising enrollments the past few years, adding thousands of students who teachers say are enriching their schools but also stretching the system to find additional seats and new ways to teach them. Just since Oct. 1, more than 800 new students have enrolled in the county school system — and 550 of them spoke English as their second language. The county school system has grown steadily over the past decade, a sign, Interim Superintendent Verletta White likes to say, that the system is successful and attractive to parents. But the large numbers of new students are also taxing the system’s facilities. (Balt. Sun)

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Harford school board members leaning toward increase in superintendent's budget request to county

There’s a consensus among many members of the Harford County Board of Education that the school system’s budget request being sent to the county executive should be for more than the $467.7 million the superintendent has proposed. How much more remains to be determined, though several said somewhere between $2 million and $4 million, which would enable the school system to reduce the number of teaching position being eliminated. What they really need to do, others said, is work with the entire school community to look long-term at what kind of school system Harford County wants to have. (Aegis)

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Carroll County teachers turn out, make case for raises ahead of budget adoption

More than 50 people came to the Wednesday, Feb. 6, public hearing for the Carroll County Board of Education’s proposed 2020 budget, many of them teachers dressed in red who used their three minutes of public comment back to back for nearly an hour to ask for pay raises and the appreciation they say the raises would signify. “I try to avoid being redundant when delivering my messages,” said Carroll County Education Association President Teresa McCulloh, who also spoke about salary increases at the January and December BOE meetings. “However, recently, I have been a recipient at many meetings in several settings of repeated promises, pledges and vows from elected officials. I continue to hear over and over that educators’ raises and compensation is a top priority,” she said. (Carr. Co. Times)

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McDaniel College president to serve on 2 national boards

McDaniel College President Roger N. Casey has been appointed to serve on two national boards for higher education. He has been elected as both vice chair of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU) and to the Board of Directors for the American Council on Education (ACE). Casey was unanimously nominated by the executive committee of NAICU, independent higher education’s largest policy and advocacy group, to serve as vice chair of the organization’s board of directors. The election took place at the NAICU 2019 Annual Meeting, Feb. 3-6, in Washington. (Daily Record)

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Democrats revive fight with Hogan over starting school after Labor Day

The question of who should decide when schools start in Maryland continues to be up for debate in Annapolis. More than two years after Gov. Larry Hogan (R) ordered public schools to begin classes after Labor Day, a Senate panel has approved legislation that would let school districts determine when school starts and ends. The full Senate is expected to consider the measure for preliminary approval on Thursday. Sen. Paul G. Pinsky (D-Prince George’s), the bill’s sponsor, said the measure would return the authority to decide the calendar to the state’s 24 school districts, “a responsibility they’ve had for about 50 years up until about 2½ years ago.” (Wash. Post)

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Anne Arundel students must take diversity course before graduation, board says

Starting next school year, all Anne Arundel County ninth-grade students will be required to take a class about diversity, inclusion and equity. The Board of Education approved the policy in an 8-0 vote. District 33 member Eric Grannon was absent. The sweeping change comes two days after a Broadneck High School student used a racist slur in a Snapchat message. Parents and community members across the county have pressured the school district to take action against incidents of hate and racism. A mandatory course that educates students about diversity, inclusion and equity was one of the dozens of suggestions. (Capital)

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Bill Seeks to Limit State Superintendent Role in Hiring of Local School Leaders

A Baltimore County senator is pursuing a bill that would remove the ability of the state superintendent of schools to disapprove of local school leaders. The legislation stems from the controversy last year over the Baltimore County school board’s appointment of Interim Superintendent Verletta White. While a majority of the board voted to offer White a multi-year contract, State Superintendent Karen Salmon blocked her appointment in an unprecedented move. Sen. Shirley Nathan-Pulliam (D-Baltimore County) introduced Senate Bill 222, which would allow the state superintendent to block a local board’s superintendent appointee only on very narrow grounds in the future: for immorality, misconduct in office, insubordination, incompetency or willful neglect of duty. (Md. Matters)

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