School board votes to name new school Billings­ley El­e­men­tary

Ma­jor Mudd ren­o­va­tions com­ing soon

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU jan­fen­son-comeau@somd­

El­e­men­tary School #22 is no more: The Charles County Board of Ed­u­ca­tion voted 4-3 Tues­day night to name its new­est school, cur­rently un­der con­struc­tion, Billings­ley El­e­men­tary, af­ter the road where it will be lo­cated in White Plains.

The school board formed a com­mit­tee last fall to rec­om­mend three names for the new school. From a list of 26 nom­i­na­tions, the com­mit­tee se­lected three names, all de­ceased Charles County res­i­dents who had made an im­pact in ed­u­ca­tion.

Last month, board Chair­man Michael Lukas re­quested the com­mit­tee pro­vide three ad­di­tional rec­om­men­da­tions based on place names.

“When we got the ini­tial names back, and there seemed to be some hes­i­tancy on the part of the board, we asked the com­mit­tee to come back with some place names,” Lukas said in a phone in­ter view the next day.

Board mem­ber Margaret Mar­shall voted for the Billings­ley name.

“Per­son­ally, the three people nom­i­nated are all very close to my­self or my fam­ily, and I would find it very dif­fi­cult to se­lect one of those three,” Mar­shall said.

Board mem­ber Vir­ginia McGraw voted against the name.

“The com­mit­tee was ini­tially charged to come up with three names, and they did, I would have liked to choose from those three names,” McGraw said.

“I spent a lot of time think­ing about it, and tak­ing ev­ery­thing into con­sid­er­a­tion, I just thought that Billings­ley was the best fit,” Lukas said.

The school sys­tem also re­ceived a re­port on con­tract bid­ding for ren­o­va­tions to Dr. Sa­muel Mudd Ele­men­tar y School.

Mudd is ex­pected to close in the fall for ma­jor ren­o­va­tions ex­pected to last 18 months. Dur­ing that time, stu­dents will at­tend a tran­si­tion school lo­cated on John Han­son Drive, be­tween J.P. Ryon El­e­men­tary School and John Han­son Mid­dle School.

Gym­na­sium, ad­min­is­tra­tion and me­dia cen­ter fa­cil­i­ties have been added to the tem­po­rary school site, said David Cle­ments, su­per­vi­sor of plan­ning and con­struc­tion.

“It’s not as roomy as a nor­mal school, but it cer­tainly has the same op­por­tu­ni­ties,” Cle­ments said.

Michael Heim, as­sis­tant su­per­in­ten­dent of sup­port­ing ser­vices, said the me­dia cen­ter at the tem­po­rary school is smaller than Mudd’s cur­rent fa­cil­ity.

“So some decisions will have to be made as to what ma­te­ri­als are dis­played ver­sus what ma­te­ri­als are stored for later use,” Heim said.

Hunt­ing­town-based J.A. Scheibel Con­struc­tion Inc., the com­pany awarded the con­struc­tion con­tract for the new school, was the low­est com­plete bid­der for the Mudd project at $23.7 mil­lion.

One com­pany sub­mit­ted a lower bid, but failed to sub­mit all of its re­quired pa­per­work in time, said Steven An­dritz, direc­tor of plan­ning and con­struc­tion.

“We ended up hav­ing to throw their bid out and con­sider them non­re­spon­sive,” An­dritz said.

Cle­ments said that if ap­proved, the school sys­tem hopes to award the con­tract in May for con­struc­tion to be­gin in Septem­ber. The school is ex­pected to open in 2019.

The board also re­ceived a re­port from hu­man re­sources re­gard­ing teacher re­ten­tion and re­cruit­ment. Deputy Su­per­in­ten­dent Amy Holl­stein re­ported that in the re­cent dec­la­ra­tion of in­tent forms sent to teach­ers, 26 teach­ers had in­di­cated they planned to re­tire and 49 teach­ers in­di­cated they planned to leave the school sys­tem.

“This data is pos­i­tive for us, look­ing for­ward to next year, that if it’s close to be­ing ac­cu­rate, our teach­ing staff will be sta­ble for next year,” Holl­stein said.

Ninety-eight teach­ers did not re­turn the dec­la­ra­tion of in­tent form.

Holl­stein said the school sys­tem has moved re­cruit­ing ef­forts ear­lier into the aca­demic year.

“We’re try­ing to start ear­lier and get out there faster be­cause of the teacher short­age,” said Pamela Mur­phy, ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of hu­man re­sources. “If you don’t go out there un­til April or May, those can­di­dates are al­ready gone.”

The most im­por­tant fac­tor, Holl­stein said, is im­prov­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions with can­di­dates.

“That’s what causes people to move here, is that per­sonal touch, and that’s what we want to pro­vide be­cause it is a com­pet­i­tive mar­ket and we have to go above and be­yond if we want to fill our po­si­tions,” Holl­stein said.

In ad­di­tion, the school sys­tem plans to pro­vide sub­sti­tute teacher train­ing to se­niors cur­rently in the Teacher Academy of Mary­land (TAM) pro­gram, which pro­vides teach­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties and col­lege credit to high school stu­dents interested in be­com­ing teach­ers.

“We want our stu­dents who want to be teach­ers to come teach for us,” Holl­stein said.

Lukas also dis­cussed the for­ma­tion of a com­mit­tee of three board mem­bers to look into mak­ing im­prove­ments and mod­i­fi­ca­tions to the dis­ci­pline ma­trix.

Dur­ing a teacher town hall held ear­lier this month, dif­fi­cul­ties in dis­ci­pline was among the biggest teacher con­cerns.

“We’re not look­ing to do it fast, we’re look­ing to do it right,” Lukas said.

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