Howard Week

October 31, 2004

Prince George's man convicted in murder of Columbia woman

A Howard County Circuit Court jury convicted a Prince George's man Wednesday in the murder of a Columbia woman who was pregnant with his child.

After deliberating for 4 1/2 hours, the jury found Tjane C. Marshall, 28, of Suitland guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Shameka Fludd, 23, who was found shot four times in the face, lying in bed at her Stevens Forest apartment in Columbia's Oakland Mills village in May last year.

Prosecutor Michael Rexroad said the state will seek a punishment of life without parole at Marshall's sentencing Jan. 7. The 12-member jury also convicted Marshall of using a handgun in the commission of a violent crime.

Fludd - who had two children, a daughter and son who are 5 and 9, respectively - was an employee at a Laurel day care center.

She was four to five months' pregnant, police said, and prosecutors argued that Marshall killed her because he did not want her to have his child.

HCC expects to close deal for conference center

Howard Community College officials expect to close a deal to take over the Belmont Conference Center in Elkridge before Thanksgiving.

The Howard Community College Educational Foundation, a nonprofit corporation that raises money for the college, recently decided to buy the 18th- century estate with approval from the college's board of directors.

The 82-acre estate includes a manor house, guest houses, tennis courts, a swimming pool and trails and gardens that are used for conferences, weddings and retreats.

3 school board hopefuls raise nearly $25,000

The three candidates vying for two seats on the Howard County Board of Education have raised a combined $24,649.20 to get their message out during their nearly yearlong campaigns.

First-time campaigner Diane Mikulis was the winner in the money race, raising $11,321.20 in contributions, according to the latest campaign finance report. Mary Kay Sigaty garnered $9,208, followed by another first-timer Frank Aquino, who pulled in $4,120.

Howard Library adopts $57 million master plan

Facing a growing population that heavily uses its public libraries, the Howard County Library system has adopted a master plan that calls for $57 million in library construction over the next 10 to 15 years.

Four new libraries and several renovations are recommended to accommodate more materials, community spaces, programs, public computers and services for teenagers and senior citizens.

The library will also look for ways to extend its hours and be open Sundays all year, increase the funds it spends on library materials, and use technology - including self-serve check-out machines - to improve the processing of library materials.

According to the plan, which was adopted by the library board of directors Tuesday, the top construction priority for the system is a 82,500-square-foot library in Ellicott City. It will replace the Miller branch library, which is the county's oldest.

High school grading policy changes are recommended

Howard County school officials have recommended changes in the high school grading policy and procedures that would clarify who may change grades and the criteria for posting a course withdrawal on transcripts.

After controversies last school year at Oakland Mills and Centennial high schools involving allegations of grade-tampering, a committee convened last spring to examine the high school grading policy and other issues was asked by the board to rectify weaknesses highlighted by those two cases.

Under the revised grading policy, a student would receive a "W" after withdrawing from a course more than a week after the middle of the first-quarter marking period, or after about seven weeks - even when a student is transferring to a different level of the same course.

The proposed revisions also clearly spell out procedures and guidelines for grade changes, which are absent from the current policy.

Only the principal and the teacher who assigned the grade would have the authority to change a student's grade on the report card. The revised policy also calls for the principal to confer with the teacher before a grade is changed.

Grade changes also must be documented in writing, according to the proposed revisions.

For the policy governing academic eligibility for participation in extracurricular activities, the committee recommended that requirements for incoming ninth-graders fall in line with those for upper-level students.

Incoming freshmen would have to earn no lower than a "C" average in the final marking period of eighth grade without a failing grade in any class to qualify for fall extracurricular activities.

School superintendent unveils redistricting plan

Howard schools Superintendent Sydney L. Cousin unveiled a high school redistricting plan Thursday that he characterized as "conservative and prudent" because it would move the fewest students possible and can be sustained over several years.

The proposal would shift about 2,200 students over three years, beginning next fall when the county's 12th high school, Marriott's Ridge, opens in Marriottsville. The school would open with freshmen and sophomores.

The superintendent's plan closely resembles the "green" plan drafted by a redistricting committee.

Atholton, Reservoir and Wilde Lake high schools would be unaffected by boundary line adjustments.

Students from Glenelg, Mount Hebron, River Hill and Centennial high schools would be sent to Marriott's Ridge, with the bulk of the students coming from Mount Hebron.

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