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Frederick County schools facing some changes

August 12, 2000

Frederick County schools facing some changes



By ANDREA BROWN-HURLEY / Staff Writer


FREDERICK, Md. - Frederick County residents can expect school system curriculum, facilities and administrative changes in the upcoming school year that begins Aug. 28, school officials said.

Teachers, administrators and curriculum specialists spent four summer weeks tweaking the county curriculum for grades kindergarten through 12 to ensure it meets state standards for students and classrooms, said Marita Loose, spokeswoman for Frederick County Public Schools.

The framework is now in place, she said.

"We are definitely doing some fine-tuning," Loose said. "We feel very strongly that our curriculum is a strong one, but we wanted to make sure there are no challenges that are not being met."

There will be no cuts this year in such special elementary classes as art and music, but third- and fifth-grade students will get a break in testing, Loose said.

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The school system is dropping the Criterion-Referenced Evaluation System end-of-course tests for these students because they also face the Maryland School Performance Assessment Program tests, she said.

"Basically our goal in aligning CRES with MSPAP is to make sure our expectations for our students are as great as the state's expectations for our students," Loose said.

Cutting the CRES tests will also save time and alleviate pressure for students and teachers, she said.

Testing and other curriculum revisions will be phased in over the course of the upcoming school year, and students and their parents will be notified as decisions are made, Loose said.

In a county with a burgeoning student population, a number of new schools in various phases of completion will help ease overcrowding, she said.

The county's total projected student enrollment for the fall is 36,800, up 700 from the previous year, Loose said.

Gov. Thomas Johnson Middle School, a replacement school opening this month in Frederick, can accommodate 900 pupils, according to the office of Facilities Services Director Ray Barnes.

The new Thurmont Primary School, which can hold 416 students, and Oakdale Elementary School, which can hold 460 students, are slated to open next year, according to Barnes' office.

A massive renovation of Gov. Thomas Johnson High School should be completed before the start of the 2002-2003 school year, Loose said. Planning is under way for a new Oakdale Middle School and additions and renovations to Thurmont Middle School, she said.

A number of Frederick County public school bus routes have also been modified to accommodate residential growth, road construction and redistricting, she said.

These changes, which will have an impact on pick-up times, bus stops and bus numbers, are posted at all Frederick County schools, she said.

Salaries for more than 300 new teachers are included in the county's $255 million operating budget, Loose said.

These instructors will be mentored by seasoned teachers at the elementary and secondary level, she said. They were invited this summer to the first day of a three-day series of workshops for teachers, she said.

"We want to make sure that they feel prepared and comfortable in the classroom," she said.

Frederick County's seven-member board of education, which sets policy not otherwise controlled by federal and state laws, will also undergo changes in the upcoming school year.

The governor of Maryland has traditionally appointed board members, but Frederick County voters in November 1998 approved an elected school board.

The first school board election is slated for this November, with six candidates vying for three open positions, Loose said.

The election will bring to an early close the terms of Maureen Lapsa, whose term as an appointed member was scheduled to end in June 2001, and Ronald Peppe II and Dr. Earlene Thornton, whose appointed terms would have expired in June 2002, Loose said.

Incumbent Peppe will run against five challengers, she said.

Elected board members will take office in December and serve four-year terms, with a two-term limit. Voters will elect the remaining four positions in 2002 and every four years thereafter, she said.

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