Maryland grants come as a pleasant surprise to 11 Arundel schools

November 27, 1996|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

The awarding of $254,000 in state grants to 11 Anne Arundel County elementary schools was a well-kept secret, both before and after yesterday's announcement.

Few school administrators were at the meeting where the winning schools were named at an event billed as a daylong conference on school reform. And the principals who did know had no one around with whom to share the good news.

Schools are not in session this week. Yesterday was reserved for a second day of parent-teacher conferences, but many teachers left early because they had evening conferences last week.

While administrators do not have the checks, they are planning how to spend the windfall.

"We are going to let the staff think about how to spend the money," said Principal Sharyn Doyle of Linthicum Elementary School's $28,201 grant. "But we'll probably split it for the computer lab and materials of instruction."

Linthicum has modified its instructional program to better prepare children for the Maryland School Performance Assessment Program tests, which are given in third, fifth and eighth grades.

The school has boosted its test scores, and many are over or near the satisfactory 70 percent mark.

At Waugh Chapel Elementary School in Odenton, Principal Charles Owens emerged from hours of special education conferences to hear from regional director Ken Nichols that his school would receive $23,279.

"It will make my holiday," Owens said.

No shortage of ideas existed for how to spend the money. Owens said he would like to put some of it toward teacher training, which he credits with being a large influence on the improved test scores. He said he would like to see some money used to buy new maps, globes and "materials teachers have always wanted but is beyond our budget."

However, Owens said the school improvement team will make the recommendations.

Most test scores hover between 40 and 50 percent, but many were 20 percentage points higher last year than they were two years ago.

Owens is the former principal of Van Bokkelen Elementary School, one of two schools outside Baltimore threatened in February with a state takeover because of low test scores.

Pershing Hill Elementary Principal Ralph McCann said that while his school improvement team will make recommendations, he is considering improving teacher training. Among his ideas are importing experts on performance testing and hiring substitutes while teachers attend classes, or holding a summer workshop that he can pay teachers to attend.

The $23,721 windfall comes on the heels of a $15,000 computer grant from the county, which -- with $30,000 raised by the school -- will go for a computer lab.

Other elementary schools to earn the awards were: Richard Henry Lee, $26,315; Cape St. Claire, $29,350; Fort Smallwood, $20,303; Glen Burnie Park, $21,099; Davidsonville, $23,545; Deale, $14,586; Shady Side, $26,845; and West Annapolis, $16,855.

Pub Date: 11/27/96

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