NAACP branch to join with superintendent in a back-to-school event

Education Notebook

September 23, 2007|By John-John Williams IV

The Howard County branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People will join with Superintendent Sydney L. Cousin tomorrow for its eighth "Back To School Night with the Superintendent."

The event, at the Roger P. Carter Center in Ellicott City, will highlight Cousin's vision, mission and goals for the school system. The meeting will be an opportunity for Cousin to meet with parents and students who attend St. John's Lane Elementary School, Dunloggin Middle, Centennial High and the newly opened Veterans Elementary.

School supplies will be given to parents and students at the 7 p.m. event.

"We try to give the superintendent a chance to interact with the broader community -- people who do not go out to school board meetings," said Natalie Woodson, education chairwoman for the Maryland chapter of the NAACP.

Cousin said he plans to talk about the importance of student achievement and about the High School Assessments, known as the HSAs.

"It's important that we keep communications open," Cousin said. "We want to talk about the importance of kids in the community."

In addition to Cousin's speech, Woodson has planned a question-and-answer period so that parents can speak with the superintendent.

"We try to reach areas of the county where people do not have an opportunity interact often," Woodson said.

Woodson said her organization chose the Roger P. Carter Center for the event because of its easy accessibility for parents.

"Some of the people rely on public transportation; we try to have the events within walking distance," Woodson said.

Organization

Howard County Board of Education members plan to participate in a yearlong organizational program through the Maryland Association of Boards of Education designed to help them function better as a team.

The decision was made this month during a three-hour board retreat held at the Board of Education in Ellicott City.

"[The program] will make us work better and be more effective," said Diane Mikulis, the board chairman.

At the retreat, board members also agreed to revamp portions of the committee system set up by the previous board.

"We decided we don't need what we thought they needed," said Mikulis of the system, which covered a several subjects, including finance, audit, and budget; policy, curriculum and strategic planning; and facilities and school planning.

The committees were required to meet separately from scheduled board meetings and, eventually, share their minutes with the other board members.

Instead, current board members will have fewer committees and individual members will take a more active role in the formation of policy, Mikulis said.

Besides discussing the committee system, board members worked on updating the board handbook.

"We were pleased," Mikulis said about the retreat. "We thought we accomplished a lot."

Patti Caplan, the school system's spokeswoman, said the retreat was a success.

"It was really good, from what Sydney shared," Caplan said. "They covered a lot of ground. And it was really positive."

Maintenance

Ken Roey, the school system's executive director of facilities and management, made a brief presentation to the board Thursday night about the completion of the Comprehensive Maintenance Program, a 67-page document that details physical needs of all 72 schools.

Mikulis thanked him and then said: "I think this is important that the public knows that this does exist. This is a great reference to us when we get queried about specific schools."

Wonder what school queries she meant? Could they have been from parents at Mount Hebron High, the school that dominated the comments during Thursday's capital budget hearing and where parents used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain a 2006 report on school construction recommendations?

john-john.williams@baltsun.com

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