Charter school closing threatened


Anne Arundel County's new schools superintendent expressed concern yesterday about a troubled charter school, saying he would recommend shutting the school if it fails to meet certain benchmarks by the end of the year.

Attending his first school board meeting, Kevin Maxwell, a former community superintendent in Montgomery County, also announced expected personnel moves.

Chesapeake Science Point, one of two new charters in Anne Arundel, has had difficulties since its opening in the fall, leading the school system to remove its director, place its own administrators in the school's top two positions and reassign three teachers.

At its last meeting, the board directed school system staff to renegotiate the school's charter, which they thought they had done last week. Yesterday, representatives of the charter school submitted changes to the new agreement. They also filed - belatedly, the school system staff said - incorrect financial information.

"I hope there's some kind of drop-dead date," said board member Konrad Wayson. "At some point we've got to say enough is enough. It's got to be done or you're done.'"

Maxwellagreed and recommended to the board that the school be allowed to remain open under provisionary status and that the school system staff come up with "milestones" for the school to meet no later than the end of the first semester.

If the school does not, he said, "I will make a recommendation at the end of the semester to not renew the charter."

As expected, Maxwell's new staff includes several former members of the Montgomery County school system.

George Margolies, the former staff director of Montgomery County's board of education, was named chief of staff. Margolies, who will be paid $141,578 a year, is to start Aug. 14.

Sarah Pelham, who had been an assistant to Maxwell in Montgomery County, was named assistant superintendent for strategic initiatives at a salary of $122,657. Pelham spent 15 years in Montgomery County, starting out as an assistant principal.

Maxwell also named two Baltimore County educators to his staff and promoted Arlen Liverman, Anne Arundel County's former director of high schools, to acting deputy superintendent. His appointment is effective today. Three school system officials who were told that they would be replaced have retained an attorney.

Also yesterday, the school board received a presentation on a facilities utilization study. The study will be used by the board to develop a 10-year master plan, and recommendations could be used as a blueprint for redistricting.

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