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WCPS superintendent holds listening session at Boonsboro Middle School

Clayton Wilcox discusses challenges of scheduling and resources

November 30, 2011|By JULIE E. GREENE | julieg@herald-mail.com
  • Clayton Wilcox
Clayton Wilcox

BOONSBORO — One parent wanted to know why Boonsboro High School students couldn't start taking advanced placement courses before their junior year.

Another parent said the school system needs to find a way to make algebra available to all students who are ready to take it in middle school.

Washington County Schools Superintendent Clayton Wilcox agreed with both parents Wednesday night that those issues need to be explored.

The challenge with such issues is scheduling and resources, Wilcox told an audience of a little more than 20 people gathered at Boonsboro Middle School for his first public listening session.

After he was hired as superintendent last spring, Wilcox — a parent himself — promised parents he would listen to them.

 School system spokesman Richard Wright said there would normally be four such listening sessions each school year, but with the late start this school year, there will be three.

The next two will be held during the second half of the school year, with dates and locations to be announced later, Wright said.

Wilcox opened the session Wednesday by sharing academic data about Boonsboro area schools with the audience, which included parents, teachers and administrators.

He cited some challenges he had for Boonsboro area schools that centered on further academic improvement, including closing the achievement gap because many area students aren't doing well.

There was a correlation between that segment of the student population and the population that comes from a disadvantaged social environment — i.e. kids who are eligible for free or reduced-price meals, Wilcox said.

He also talked about increasing the number of students who take more rigorous courses, such as AP courses, and improving access to new and emerging technologies.

Many of the schools already have wireless computer access with Boonsboro High expected to get an upgrade to its wireless access in 2012, Wilcox said.

A discussion in its infancy among school system officials is finding a way for students whose families cannot afford Internet access at home to be able to take such access home, perhaps through a portable device with built-in Wi-Fi, Wilcox said after the meeting.

Caren Cramer, who has children at Boonsboro High and Boonsboro Middle, said a friend of hers has a child who took an AP course in ninth grade in an Arlington County, Va., school. She wanted to know why Boonsboro students couldn't take AP classes until their junior year.

Wilcox said that the problem is the way the schedule is set up and how people are deployed. But students who are good at a subject like math should be able to explore that subject, and parents might start seeing a change in that, he said.

Boonsboro parent Karen Manganaro said there were 50 Boonsboro Middle students qualified to take algebra this school year but only room for 30 in the class.

"I think your point is valid, and we ought to look at it," Wilcox said.

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