Baltimore city school officials rolled out last week, the system's annual school readiness plan that includes a vast reduction in the number of bell schedules to alleviate pressure on its transportation system, as well as a sharp uptick in 'managing' school leaders.
The update--the PowerPoint can be found here--also included 14 facility renovation projects all due to be completed by Monday when schools open to students; and a new, multilingual communications campaign that will distribute the system's literature in English and Spanish.
Among the most radical changes will be the reduction of 47 different bell schedules--that have caused hiccups as dozens of bus and cab contractors have struggled to get thousands of students to school at different times--to just seven.
Fifty-six new school leader appointments for the 2013 school year, the majority of which (33) are managing assistant principals. Ninety-six percent of teacher positions had been filled as of August 14. You can view the system's last two rounds of staff appointments here and here.
The system has noted a sharp uptick in the number of special and general education students it transports every year, and this year schools added more than 1,300 new requests.Students who are issued paper bus passes, will receive a new, electronic "S-Pass."
The system has also added more staff and resources to the long-beleaguered transportation office, which needed a budget increase this year due to its increasing demands (like the increasing number of homeless students the district is required to transport to and from wherever they reside.) The system will also be placing GPS tracking devices to monitor its own fleet.
Also of note, the system has tweaked its school meal menus to meet the new up to USDA standards, that take effect this year.
And the district will also launch another campaign to increase the number applications submitted for Free and Reduced Meals (FARM) to 85 percent. Efforts three years ago to increase the participation rate resulted in more application submissions--and more federal funding.
To read more about the system's 'School Readiness,' plan you can do so here.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake will host her annual "Back to School Rally" on Thursday, Aug. 23 from 3 p.m.-7 p.m. at city school headquarters, 200 E. North Avenue.