Howard High parents seek some answers

October 15, 2003|By Tricia Bishop | Tricia Bishop,SUN STAFF

Nearly 100 anxious parents gathered at Howard High last night to find out what is being done to help the Ellicott City school, which was recently added to the county school system's improvement unit because of inadequate progress on academic goals.

But they left with more questions than answers.

"I did not hear what I came to hear tonight," said Howard High PTSA President Jerry Bialecki. "I came here to hear and understand what resources the school would be given and all about the plan [for improvement]."

Bialecki, along with dozens of other parents, was frustrated when Mary Day - who as principal has borne the brunt of school criticism - cut a question session short to usher people into another room for refreshments and to get their ideas on how the school should proceed.

"Are you telling me they don't have a plan?" Bialecki asked. "At this point, the pages should not be blank. I did not come here for cookies and juice."

The school has been given an extended deadline - Oct. 31 - to create and submit its school improvement plan, in part because of its new designation to the school improvement unit, which provides extra attention and resources to underperforming schools.

County Department of Education staff members and Howard High's administrative team told families last night that the school would get two more instructors along with as-yet-undetermined resources, which caused many to bemoan the lack of specificity.

"We hear you, we hear you, we hear you, and we understand some of your frustrations," said Assistant Superintendent Roger L. Plunkett, who earlier in the evening cautioned that "this is just step one to where we want to go, and we will get there."

Plunkett said the Department of Education does not dictate plans to schools but works with them, and that's what's going on now as the best path for Howard High is studied.

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