School board studies project Officials say more time needed to evaluate college-prep program

Review finds grades fell

Panel will also review status of funding for planned renovations

May 06, 1998|By Kris Antonelli | Kris Antonelli,SUN STAFF

A $23,000 pilot program to mold average students into college material may not have gotten very good marks in its first nine weeks, but Anne Arundel school officials say they need more time to evaluate the program.

"It's very, very early in the program to evaluate it," said Timothy Dangel, coordinator of research for the school system. "Lots of times things get worse before they get better."

Dangel compiled information on the project, called Advancement Via Independent Determination (AVID), for the county school board, which will debate the project's effectiveness today at school headquarters on Riva Road outside Annapolis.

The project began in January with 23 hand-picked students at Annapolis Middle School who were assigned to special classes and given extra homework and class work.

A review of the program by The Sun last month found that many of the students already were on the honor roll and that the grades of more than half of them dropped or stayed the same during the third marking period.

Dangel's research found that some of the students' grades dropped, but that some students have moved up to more difficult college-preparatory courses.

Michael McNelly, a school board member from Dunkirk, said he favors programs such as AVID because they help students who might otherwise be ignored.

"We tend to take care of the special education students and the gifted and talented," he said. "I have always said that we should be looking out for the average student, and this program is a good example of it."

Thomas E. Florestano, a board member from Annapolis, said it appears the program is not working, but that more time is needed to evaluate it.

"So much of what students do have to do with things that happen at home," he said. "If going to college is not reinforced at home, then chances are they will not go."

School board members also will review today the status of funding for the proposed Davidsonville Elementary School and a proposed community center at the former Brooklyn Park High School building on Hammonds Lane.

County Executive John G. Gary has said that he will not pay for a $14 million school next to the current Davidsonville Elementary. He wants the board to find a cheaper site where it can use a prototype design for the school, possibly saving millions of dollars.

"I think we can do this cheaper," McNelly said of the Davidsonville Elementary School plan. "And I think we should look at ways to do it cheaper and get the most bang for the buck out of it."

Gary and the board have been arguing for years about the cost of building schools, and Gary formed a joint committee of school officials and county employees that is supposed to come up with ways of keeping the cost down.

"I think we have made good strides with the joint committee and have gotten a lot of things cleared up," Florestano said.

The school system is to spend $23 million to renovate Brooklyn Park Middle School as part of a joint project with the county to turn part of the building into the Chesapeake Center for the Performing Arts, and a community center with offices for the health department and Police Department. The entire project will cost $35 million.

Gov. Parris N. Glendening announced yesterday that the state will contribute $2.8 million toward the renovations, scheduled to be finished in 2000.

"Some north county residents feel like they are isolated from the rest of the county, and this will give them something for their community," Florestano said.

Pub Date: 5/06/98

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