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School Board approves master plan

October 04, 2006|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

The Washington County Board of Education voted Tuesday night to approve the plan that will guide the school system through 2011.

Members unanimously approved updates to the master plan. The plan summarizes the system's accomplishments from the 2005-06 school year and sets targets for the 2006-07 school year and beyond.

Board Member Russell F. Williams was absent from the meeting.

JoEtta Palkovitz-Brown, assistant superintendent for elementary instruction, told the board a number of gains had been made to support program excellence in the county's elementary grades.

She said the county had expanded prekindergarten and kindergarten programs. There are 22 sessions of half-day prekindergarten offered at 11 sites and three full-day classes at two sites, an increase of two sites and two full-day classes, according to the master plan.

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The plan states that this year, there are 64 sections of full-day kindergarten at 22 sites, an increase of 22 sections and 10 sites in just two years. Full-day kindergarten classes must be offered to all students by next school year according to federal No Child Left Behind legislation.

Palkovitz-Brown said the elementary grades have maintained a student-to-teacher ratio of 21 students to one teacher. Additional interventions have been offered to teachers who need help assisting students who need additional support.

The elementary world and classical language program has expanded, Palkovitz-Brown said. This year, eight schools will offer Spanish. The music program also has expanded, she said.

Donna Hanlin, assistant superintendent for secondary instruction, said the county's middle and high schools have had program enhancements in English, language arts and social studies. An elements of composition course was added for ninth- and 10th-graders.

Hanlin said an SAT instructional specialist position was created to coordinate SAT initiatives the school system has to increase the number of students taking the SAT and their level of achievement.

Board President W. Edward Forrest called the school system's master plan a "meaningful road map" to drive student achievement. He said the document is used as an accountability tool.

The complete master plan will be available to the public on its Web site (www.wcboe.k12.md.us). It also will be downloaded to CDs, which will be sent to the county's schools and "key stakeholders" in the community, said Shulamit Finkelstein, executive assistant for strategic planning and board and community relations. Highlights from the lengthy documents will be condensed into a booklet that also will be available to the public.

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