THE HUB - Feature Article

  • George Arlotto: Anne Arundel schools' silent service weathered the storms

    Posted by Melvin Edwards on 1/18/2018

    Every play needs actors, an audience, directors and a playwright, but no successful show has ever been produced without the scenery builders and stagehands who work behind the curtains or above and below the stage floor to ensure that the experience is seamless.

    The heroics of our school system’s “silent service” are critical to our mission. They work, for the most part, unseen by those who come to see the main act.

    In our case, the actors are our students and teachers, the audience our parents and public, and the directors and playwrights our administrators.

    Our silent service personnel are those in the facilities and business side of the house — maintenance workers, custodians, technology and human resources staff, etc. — who fit the definition of heroes once espoused by news anchor Tom Brokaw: “Heroes are people who rise to the occasion and slip away quietly.”

    Perhaps at no time has that heroic work been more evident than over the last two weeks, when winter wreaked havoc on our county. The unprecedented and unrelenting cold that gripped our region from Dec. 31 through Jan. 7 put our schools and other facilities in a precarious position.

    While our students and most employees were enjoying the Christmas-winter break, our facilities, operations, and custodial crews were hard at work to minimize — and, hopefully, avoid — adverse impact on the 13 million square feet of real estate we manage every day.

    Through precautions and through quick reactions to heat and other building issues as they arose, those crews allowed us to open schools on time for all students on Jan. 2 and — save for our single snow day and two other instances in which schools had to be closed due to issues outside our control — keep them open for all of our students.

    As Mother Nature deposited sleet and freezing rain, our facilities, operations, custodial and transportation crews arrived at work as early as 3 a.m. to inspect and treat roads, lots and sidewalks and ensure as best they could that our facilities were ready to receive students.

    While winter weather has a predictable impact, we less often encounter unforeseen emergencies like the one on Jan. 7 — a Sunday — when a burst water pipe drenched equipment at the Parham building, which houses much of our computer infrastructure. An employee entering the building to check on another issue encountered the burst pipe. This launched a week of around-the-clock work to not only fix the plumbing issues but mitigate and repair damage to computer systems.

    On the night the break was discovered, more than a dozen of our applications couldn’t be utilized. Chief among them, from the public’s perspective, were the email and Parham building telephone systems. But teachers also couldn’t access — and therefore use for instruction — online curriculum documents. Our payroll and student data systems also sat idle.

    About 36 hours later, thanks to the herculean efforts of those in our Technology Division, the number of inaccessible applications was cut by more than two-thirds. Teachers were able to access web-based instructional applications by Tuesday, phone service was restored to the Parham building and our payroll and other systems were resurrected.

    Because it required the acquisition of replacement equipment, email and ParentConnect systems took longer to put back online.

    Sure, we had to adapt and adjust. No, it wasn’t perfect. But while it would be easy to criticize the fact that some repairs and restorations took longer than others, this unfairly fails to recognize the amazing work our employees did — and continue to do — to ensure that the show goes on as scheduled and instruction can continue for more than 82,000 children.

    The work these folks do is, as Brokaw described it, heroic. I could not be more proud to call them colleagues or to be a member of this #AACPSAwesome team.

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  • 62 AACPS Educators Attain Prestigious National Board Certification

    Posted by Melvin Edwards on 1/12/2018

    Sixty-two Anne Arundel County Public Schools (AACPS) educators have earned National Board Certification, the highest teaching credential in the nation administered by the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards.

    Among this year’s AACPS achievers, 39 earned the designation for the first time while 23 renewed their credentials after ten years.

    In a process that can take up to three years, Anne Arundel’s 2017-18 class successfully completed the rigorous certification process where their teaching practices are measured against national standards for what professional educators should know and be able to do. They also participate in a National Board Certification professional development program offered by the school system. Approximately 90 more educators are seeking to earn National Board Certification over the next two years.

    “Our educators are our primary resource for not only providing instruction, but also for modeling excellence for our students,” Superintendent George Arlotto said.  “The hundreds of NBCTs across our school system clearly shows that passion for our young people is a cornerstone of our work.  I am so proud of our educators and the work they do every day to be the best for our students and communities.”

    AACPS now boasts a total of 486 educators who have earned NBC status, second among all Maryland school systems and 24th among school districts in the nation.

    The following AACPS educators earned their initial National Board Certification this year:

    • Maria Alldred, Odenton ES
    • Katie Barton, Hilltop ES
    • Kimberly Cahill, Odenton ES
    • Lisa Choo, Ridgeway ES
    • Kathleen Cochran, Wiley H. Bates MS
    • Rebecca Cullen, South Shore ES
    • Kathleen Depman, AACPS Reading Office
    • Tina DeVleeschouwer, Richard Henry Lee ES
    • Jennifer Foard, Jacobsville ES
    • Christiane Ford, Crofton ES
    • Julie Foxton, Meade MS
    • Maria Grosskettler, Shipley’s Choice ES
    • Travis Guthrie, South River HS
    • Deborah Haas, Lothian ES
    • Chase Haglund, Arundel MS
    • John Halmi, AACPS Secondary Math Office
    • Emily James, South Shore ES
    • Kara Kearney, Quarterfield ES
    • Melinda Keenan, Shady Side ES
    • Robin Kick, Arundel HS
    • Jennifer Kobrin, Bodkin ES
    • Krista Lottes, Point Pleasant ES
    • Jeniffer Maribao, Old Mill HS
    • Maureen McManus, Lothian ES
    • Rhea Meneely, Southern HS
    • Jaime Millett, Point Pleasant ES
    • Judith Moody, Folger McKinsey ES
    • Eleonor Nulud, South River HS
    • Stella Ogbeide, Annapolis HS
    • Julie Peak, Pershing Hill ES
    • Julia Pensyl, Glen Burnie Park ES
    • Jennifer Sears, South River HS
    • Patricia Shryock, Shady Side ES
    • Danielle Sinclitico, Broadneck HS
    • Megan Smith, Ridgeway ES
    • Timothy Smith, Folger McKinsey ES
    • Alicia Winarski, Solley ES
    • Suzanne Zelenz-Dale, Point Pleasant ES
    • Megan Zimmerman, Severna Park HS

    The following AACPS educators achieved their National Board Certification renewal this year:

    • Heather Carnaghan, Monarch Global Academy
    • Kristel Crabill, Maryland City ES
    • Geri Cvetic, Chesapeake HS
    • Alma Durm, Ruth Eason School
    • Amanda Finnis, Edgewater ES
    • Katherine Hart, Bodkin ES
    • Lisa Hostetter, Southern HS
    • Stacey Jones, Point Pleasant ES
    • Julie LaBrutte, Edgewater ES
    • Lucia Martin, AACPS School Counseling Office
    • Christina McCall, Deale ES
    • Meghan Murphy, AACPS Special Education Office
    • Sarah Petri, Chesapeake HS
    • Faith Pittman, Severna Park HS
    • Stacey Ragusa, Old Mill HS
    • Angela Ricciuti, Overlook ES
    • Kerri Rogers, Monarch Global Academy
    • Angela Sasse, Severna Park HS
    • Angela St. Pierre, Old Mill HS
    • Jennifer Szalankiewicz, Millersville ES
    • Marcia Taylor, Jacobsville ES
    • Lydia Teal, Central ES
    • Lisa Wild, Piney Orchard ES

    This year’s class will be honored at a pinning and recognition ceremony at 5:00 p.m. on January 22, 2018, at Annapolis High School.

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  • Budget Recommendation Addresses School System’s Key Issues

    Posted by Dr. George Arlotto on 1/2/2018

    Helping our children believe that they can reach their full potential and overcome any obstacle that may be in their path involves us – not just those of us in our school system, but all of us in this county – believing in and instilling hope in all of our children. When it comes to Elevating All Students and Eliminating All Gaps, all must mean all.

    The sharp upward spike in our student population over the last three years has created challenges for us, particularly in light of the fiscal restraints that continue to exist in Anne Arundel County. A year ago, we worked with the County to allocate $22.5 million in one-time funding as we implement a long-term plan to secure ongoing quality healthcare for our employees. That plan included sacrifices from our employees, who saw their share of healthcare premiums rise. The necessity – and urgency – of that initiative meant that, in the existing financial environment, we could not provide additional classroom teachers for our increasing student population.

    This year, we simply must address those needs. There is no escaping this reality. These concerns have been voiced loudly by teachers and the Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County. We have heard them, and this budget addresses the concerns in significant ways.
    Included in the $1.19 billion operating budget I recommended to the Board of Education last week are 238.7 positions, 94 percent of which are allocated for teachers and other employees who interact with our students every day.

    Of the 190.7 requested teachers, 106 will address overall enrollment growth and 30 more will be allocated to reducing already bulging class sizes. Another 25 will address the rise in our English Language Learner population, where caseloads now average approximately 49 students.
    Additionally, this budget includes 16 positions to address the needs of our special education students.

    We also must find ways to continue to properly support our employees, and my recommendation allocates $20.8 million for compensation increases. Subject to negotiations with employee bargaining units, that is sufficient to fund step increases for all eligible employees, commensurate increases to non-represented employees, and a 1 percent cost-of-living adjustment for all employees.

    We also must continue to address the increasing variety and widening scale of the social and emotional needs of our students. My recommended budget contains $1.1 million for 10.4 positions (5.4 school counselors, two school psychologists, two social workers, and one pupil personnel worker) dedicated to these efforts.

    To help our students we must also help our family members, particularly those who do not speak English. This budget includes $137,000 for two additional bilingual facilitators to provide interpretation and translation services for families.

    I have also included $1.8 million for 15.9 positions to open the Carrie Weedon Early Education Center, which will be dedicated to housing and supporting prekindergarten students in south county.

    My recommendation also includes $1.2 million for 12.5 positions to implement the Enhancing Educational Excellence (Triple-E) initiative at nine elementary schools in the Annapolis cluster. This is a proven program that sparks creativity and innovation among students.

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