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NCLB Outrages

School chief seeks 17% boost in spending

Comments from Annie: Here is another great example of how out-of-touch the decision makers are from the community they serve. This superintendent thinks right inside the narrow little box that supports and maintains shallow, destructive educational policy and delivers another bowl of high priced gruel, but little in the way of significant progress or benefit.

Apparently the superintendent and school board have little time to understand the parents’, teachers’, or students’ perspective or opinion when it comes to policy or spending. And, why should they? They are not elected officials, nor are they under any control from the community they serve.

I have to laugh at the superintendent’s farfetched assumption that anyone in the community weighed in on his “plan” beyond a select few voices predictably lined up in sweeping “support” for rhetorical “progress” compliments of NCLB compliance. He says: “About $75.6 million of the proposed increase is needed just to maintain the status quo” Of course, “status quo” decisions were made without checking out the community take on compliance with NCLB. And examining the policies of NCLB is just out of the question as our little school system is just an incidental cog in the big factory world of business interest and politics.

The costs of maintaining a test-based, standardized school system grow steeper but the quality of the “product,” and the actual “returns” on the investment are much more problematic. Expanding designer “academic” programs and boosting security personnel in the main office are tactics intended to address anticipated public relations issues.

Who buys this bunkum? Many more people than should, unfortunately.

School chief seeks 17% boost in spending

Would pay for raises, 38 security positions

Saying county schools need more money to go from good to great, Superintendent Kevin M. Maxwell this morning unveiled a budget of just under $1 billion.

The $920 million proposed spending plan includes funding for more security, raises for teachers and the expansion of a rigorous college prep program at Meade High School.

The superintendent's proposed budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1 is an increase of 16.6 percent - or $131 million - from the current budget.

About $75.6 million of the proposed increase is needed just to maintain the status quo, said Dr. Maxwell, who submitted his first budget to the Board of Education since taking the reins of Anne Arundel's 74,000-student school district last year.

"The school system in Anne Arundel County is underfunded," he said, and the budget is "the first step to try to provide adequate funding for the school system."

While the school system's performance is good, "It should be performing at an even higher level," Dr. Maxwell said. "It has the potential to be a great school system."

But reaching that potential requires money, said Dr. Maxwell, who came to Anne Arundel from Montgomery County schools in July. He said everyone wins with a top-notch school system, and better schools equal higher property values.

About 80 percent of the budget is devoted to personnel.

The budget includes $2.56 million for 38 security positions, 31 of which will be based in schools.

School safety has been an issue in the wake of school shootings nationwide and an investigation by The Capital last fall that found lax security at public schools countywide.

Five security positions would allow the school system to provide 24-hour service at its communications center in its Riva Road headquarters.

The center currently is staffed only during the day, which creates problems during the night and weekends when flooding or similar hazards arise, Dr. Maxwell said.

The proposal also includes $24 million to cover 6 percent raises promised to the teachers' union. The raises are intended to keep teachers' salaries competitive with other jurisdictions.

About $1.35 million is allocated for the planning and implementation of programs like the International Baccalaureate program, a four-year, advanced course of study for high school students.

Another freshman class at Meade High would enter the IB program under the plan. It's already in place at Annapolis and Old Mill high schools.

The budget also includes money to establish the Middle Years program - a precursor of IB - to Annapolis Middle School, MacArthur Middle at Fort George G. Meade and Old Mill Middle North.

At a cost of $1.1 million, the county's high schools will be getting 10 guidance registrars and 12 test coordinators. The registrars will deal with clerical tasks, such as preparing students' transcripts as they apply to colleges.

By not having to deal with clerical work or standardized tests, Dr. Maxwell said guidance counselors will be freed up to deal with students' individual needs.

Dr. Maxwell's $142.6 million proposed capital budget is virtually unchanged from when it was presented in October.

The capital budget, which mainly deals with money for construction projects, includes $20 million for an overhaul of Severna Park Middle and $14.3 million to replace Freetown Elementary. Another $13 million is allocated for textbooks.

The school board will review Dr. Maxwell's budget and pass its own version, which will then be forwarded to County Executive John R. Leopold.

Mr. Leopold said Dr. Maxwell briefed him on the school budget. School funding currently takes up half the county's overall budget.

"Excellence has costs," Mr. Leopold said. "But the failure to provide (an adequate education) has even higher costs."

The county executive said he'll weigh the school system's needs against the needs of other county services, such as police and fire protection.

Mr. Leopold will include school funding in his proposed budget, which he will give to the County Council in May.

The council will make its own adjustments to the school budget before approving the entire county spending plan by May 30.

Annapolis Capital


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