School board votes to name new school Billingsley Elementary
Major Mudd renovations coming soon
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.