Elevated lead levels in some Harford school water sources not a cause for concern, assistant superintendent says

Harford County Public Schools officials said they have not been surprised by the results of lead testing at schools served by public water, with slightly more than 9 percent of water sources testing at “actionable levels" thus far. Since the Maryland General Assembly passed a bill in 2018 requiring all school water outlets on public water be tested for the presence of lead, the Harford school system has tested 31 of the 37 applicable schools. As of Tuesday, more than 6,000 water sources had been tested in Harford County Public Schools since the end of the 2017-2018 school year. (Aegis)    

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FCPS gears up for pilot composting program with training

Frederick County Public Schools staff, teachers, parents and others filled the cafeteria of Sugarloaf Elementary School on Thursday afternoon to learn about the new trash and disposal practices that will come to 14 schools in the coming school year. The selected schools will participate in a composting pilot program called Lunch Out of Landfills. Thursday was a training session. Attendees learned how the program will be rolled out and how they themselves could pitch in. Once launched, students will sort their waste into four different bins during lunch — trash, recycling, liquids and organics. Organics are any biodegradable matter such as banana peels and apple cores. (News-Post)

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County Inspector General Questions Integrity of MCPS Bus Camera Contract

In a new report, the county’s inspector general is questioning an agreement between Montgomery County Public Schools and a company tasked with installing cameras on school buses. Montgomery County Inspector General Edward Blansitt challenges the integrity of the agreement, and the school district’s commitment to ensuring its effectiveness, after the camera company’s CEO and other affiliates were convicted of taking and offering bribes associated with the program.  In his report, Blansitt wrote that there is no indication any county or MCPS employee violated any rules or laws or “had any inappropriate relationship with the vendor.” But he wrote that “it is not apparent that any significant due diligence process took place concerning information supplied by the vendor even after significant adverse information came to light.” (Bethesda)

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As summer camps turn on facial recognition, parents demand: More smiles, please

When David Hiller’s two daughters checked into Camp Echo, a bucolic sleep-away camp in Upstate New York, they relinquished their cellphones for seven idyllic weeks away from their digital lives. But not Hiller: His phone rings 10 times a day with notifications from the summer camp’s facial-recognition service, which alerts him whenever one of his girls is photographed enjoying their newfound independence, going water-skiing or making a new friend. His daughters don’t really know about the facial-recognition part, he said. (Wash. Post)

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Hagerstown welcomes Chinese contingent exploring educational opportunity

A group of Chinese business representatives is visiting Washington County this week as part of consideration by the University System of Maryland at Hagerstown to offer an English as a second language program for Chinese students who might study here. The group has been visiting local attractions, such as the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts and Hagerstown City Park, and learning about other aspects of the community, like agriculture. On Tuesday, they met Hagerstown Mayor Bob Bruchey. Bruchey told the nine Chinese visitors that bringing Chinese students to Hagerstown is a great opportunity, and he touted the community’s amenities and quality of life. (Herald-Mail) 

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University of Maryland, Baltimore students among public school-goers with most loan debt

Students who have attended the University of Maryland, Baltimore for graduate school carry about $22,531 each in student loan debt, or $106 million in total debt. That is the third-highest per-student debt sum among students from public institutions throughout the country. Although public institutions are typically more affordable than private ones, especially for in-state students, new data from Lending Tree's Student Loan Hero organization shows students who attend certain public universities are still racking up big debt. Average annual in-state tuition at a four-year private school is $32,410, compared to $9,410 at a four-year public school, according to College Board. To find out how much debt public university graduates are in, Student Loan Hero evaluated average federal student loan debts. (Balt. Bus. Journal)

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Outside investigation of Damascus High sexual assault case takes longer than expected

An outside law firm hired by the Montgomery County school system to investigate how a 2018 sexual assault case at Damascus High School was handled has told school officials it will need more time to complete the work. The firm, WilmerHale, expects to finish the examination by Sept. 30, said Derek Turner, a schools spokesman. The investigation, underway since April 29, was originally set to finish by June 30. (Balt. Sun)

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USMH wants liquor license for hospitality management class

The University System of Maryland at Hagerstown is seeking a liquor license for its hospitality and tourism-management program. Tiffany Ahalt, USMH's hospitality center coordinator, told the Board of License Commissioners for Washington County during a hearing Wednesday that the license would be used primarily for a Beer, Wine and Spirits course. "This particular program is through the University of Maryland Eastern Shore," she said. "We're essentially a satellite campus for this degree program." The description of the course states it would provide a "comprehensive study of alcoholic beverages, with an emphasis on the origin, production, classification, and service of beer, wine and spirits; bartending basics; alcohol awareness, liability and the responsible serving of alcoholic beverages." (Herald-Mail)

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