School board meets in Dundalk
Wednesday, 30 April 2014 13:43

Seventh District County Councilman John Olszewski Sr. offered brief remarks during the Board of Education meeting at the new Dundalk-Sollers Point Technical high school campus last Tuesday.  photo by Nicole Rodman

 by Nicole Rodman

    The auditorium was packed on April 22 as the Board of Education of Baltimore County held its April meeting at the new Dundalk-Sollers Point Technical high school campus.
    The meeting began with  7th District County Councilman John Olszewski Sr. offering brief remarks thanking various public officials, including Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz and the local state legislative delegation for their help in bringing the new school facility to Dundalk.
    Board of Education pres-ident Lawrence E. Schmidt also offered his compliments to the Sollers Point culinary students who prepared and served dinner to the board members prior to the open meeting.
    “It was one of the finer restaurants in Baltimore County,” Schmidt noted.
    In his comments, Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS) Superintendent S. Dallas Dance briefly lauded Kamenetz on his fiscal year 2015 budget proposal before explaining that the funds would aid BCPS in meeting the goal of installing wireless Internet in every classroom across the county by the end of the 2014-2015 school year.
    Dr. Dance also announced that the Maryland State Department of Education had granted BCPS a four-day waiver for school days missed due to inclement weather during the past winter.
    Each year, BCPS builds  seven extra days into its schedule to account for inclement weather.
    Over the last winter, the school system closed for nine days due to inclement weather.
    With the four-day waiver granted, the last day of school will be moved from the previously-scheduled Tuesday, June 17, to Monday, June 16.
    During the public comment portion of the meeting, most of the comments centered around the controversial school scheduling changes being pushed by Dr. Dance.
    Last year, Dr. Dance announced that, beginning with the 2014-2015 school year, all county high school students will be required to take eight subjects per semester.
    Schools will have the choice to schedule eight 40-minute class periods each day or four 85 to 90 minute periods on alternating days (an AB block schedule).
    Currently, many county high schools operate on a schedule of seven classes per day.
    A few schools, including Patapsco High School and Center for the Arts and Hereford High School, operate on a “4-by-4” block schedule in which students take four classes during the first semester and four different classes during the second semester.
    At last Tuesday’s board meeting, a number of
Hereford High parents and students were on hand to speak out against the schedule changes.
    Also on hand to oppose the change were several elected officials representing the Hereford area, including Del. Pat McDonough and state Sen. J.B. Jennings, both of the 7th District.
    Prior to the public comments, board president Schmidt had explained that the board does not think that the decision to change high school scheduling is a board matter but is, rather, up to the superintendent.
    Schmidt acknowledged that the board had received a legal appeal from an attorney representing opponents of the scheduling change. He noted that the board would consider the appeal.
    Two items of local note were considered during the latter half of the meeting.
    The board approved a contract to remove and replace sections of damaged sidewalk at Sparrows Point High School.
    The plan includes the addition of a new pathway from the parking area to the school and concrete curb replacement at the parking lot.
    The $146,564 contract was awarded to Pasadena-based Image Asphalt Maintenance, Inc.
    The board also approved a $94,879 contract to resurface the running track at Patapsco High School and Center for the Arts.
    The resurfacing will include the addition of a polyurethane coating and marking on the running track and field event surfaces.
    The contract was awarded to Hunt Valley-based Beynon Sports Surfaces, Inc.
    The next meeting of the Board of Education of Baltimore County will be held on Tuesday, May 6, at 7 p.m. at the Educational Support Services building on the Greenwood Campus, 6901 Charles Street in Towson.