$150,000 is sought to revive school Boards to consider educators' proposal for Van Bokkelen

March 19, 1996|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

County school officials want to add an administrator to cope with discipline problems, hire a part-time liaison to link Van Bokkelen Elementary school and its community, buy textbooks, train teachers and start after-school programs in an effort to save the failing school.

Anne Arundel County Schools Superintendent Carol S. Parham is to deliver the plan today to the state Board of Education and tomorrow to the county school board in response to the state threat to take over the school in Severn.

State education officials can approve the plan, Anne Arundel's initial response to the state's criticism of Van Bokkelen, or request changes. The plan, a thick file of issues and strategies, is an outline that shows steps being taken or those school officials would like to take as they start to revamp the school.

To implement the plan, Dr. Parham has sent a $150,000 supplemental budget request to the county school board, seeking $43,000 for textbooks and instructional materials, $22,000 in teacher-training programs, and $85,000 salaries for new personnel.

Dr. Parham must submit a transition plan aimed at getting the school through initial adjustments to the state by May 15. That is to be followed Feb. 3, 1997, with a plan for a full overhaul.

Already, Charles Owens has been replaced as principal by Rose Tasker, a social worker is at the school, and plans have been made for third- and fifth-grade teachers to have three days of training in how to prepare children for the standardized state tests they will take this spring.

In response to a "recommendation made by the faculty [was] that the school Improvement Plan be adhered to," a new School Improvement Team is being started.

Dr. Parham's plan also includes making Van Bokkelen one of eight sites in the county for a 4 1/2 -week Summer Academy the elementary school summer school for reading and math.

Part of the day will be spent on classwork, the rest on recreation and field trips for a school population that is mostly poor and minority children.

School activities under consideration or in the planning stages include starting a student government, tutoring, cheerleading, arts and crafts, and Young Marines.

In addition, the MCI Corp. is starting a computer partnership with the school.

County school officials said they would not comment on the plan at the request of the Maryland State Department of Education. State officials also would not discuss it.

"I think it is a very good plan," said Joseph H. Foster, school board president, who would not comment on specifics.

While state officials said they looked at results of Maryland School Performance Assessment Program tests in threatening the first state takeover of a suburban school, their critique and an evaluation by county school officials offer a startling glimpse into a troubled school.

The evaluation depicts a school community that is fragmented, classrooms where disruptive students made it impossible to teach and school administrators who spend nearly all of their lTC time on discipline problems. It describes a cave-like building with ventilation problems, instructional programs that lack up-to-date books and materials, equipment in disrepair and a school improvement plan that existed on paper but not in practice.

"The MSDE on-site review indicated that there was a pervasive atmosphere of low expectations, and that there was no agreement on what rigorous content means and what expectations should be in place," the county plan states.

Dr. Parham would not discuss the plan, but said the items in her budget request "are essential to turning around the [test] scores."

Pub Date: 3/19/96

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