When Middle River Middle School Principal David L. Lloyd learned yesterday that his school had won $70,375 from the state in recognition of improved academic performance, his eyes opened wide with surprise.
"I knew we were going to be an award winner, but this is a complete surprise," he said from his seat in a banquet hall at the Holiday Inn Select in Timonium. "As soon as I get back [to school], I'm going to tell the staff."
Lloyd was one of 11 Baltimore County principals whose schools received cash bonuses from the Maryland State Department of Education yesterday as part of an annual recognition program that spotlights schools that have posted improved scores on the Maryland School Performance Assessment Program tests, as well as other benchmarks.
Baltimore County, the third-largest school system in the state, received about $463,000 this year out of a total pot of $2.75 million.
Statewide, 61 schools were honored with prize money. An additional 293 schools - including 39 in Baltimore County- will receive certificates for one year of gains.
In years past, an awards ceremony with representatives of all 24 school districts was held by state schools Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick, but this year, state officials decided to let each district hold its own event, spokesman Neil Greenberger said.
"We asked the superintendents, and there wasn't overwhelming ... support to have the event," Greenberger said. "They want the recognition and they want the money ... but they didn't feel the [ceremony] was necessary."
Baltimore County schools celebrated with a hot breakfast and music by the Hereford Middle School Jazz Ensemble.
Superintendent Joe A. Hairston and about half the board were on hand to congratulate winners. "We have schools in Baltimore County that are constantly improving," Hairston said. "They're moving from point A to point B. ... Now that is improvement."
Lloyd said he was pleased with the prize because Middle River Middle was included on a recent list of low-performing but improving schools that will receive extra help from a team of teaching experts during the next school year.
"This shows us that we are moving in the right direction, or the state wouldn't have given us the money," he said.