City schools for city kids
Any Baltimore County parents out there thinking of paying tuition to send your musically-inclined child to Baltimore School for the Arts? Or your scientifically-gifted offspring to Poly? You may need to think again.
School system administrators proposed to the board last night a policy change that would give qualified Baltimore City residents preference in applying to the prestigious citywide high schools. Currently, the schools select their students based on which applicants have the highest "composite scores," regardless of where they live. Under the proposed policy change, city students who meet the minimum composite score would be admitted over non-city residents, even if the county kids score higher. Non-residents would be permitted to apply for spots that city students do not fill.
School officials and board members say the policy change is only fair: Public city schools, after all, ought to be first and foremost for city residents. But the proposed change stops short of one advocated by Michael Carter, the outgoing chair of the school system's Parent and Community Advisory Board (honored last night for his work). Carter wants to see kids coming from Baltimore's public middle schools get preference in admission to the citywide high schools over Baltimore residents coming from private middle schools. Lots of wealthier city parents fork over tuition money to avoid Baltimore's failing middle schools, only to return to the public system when there are better high school options. Carter says the kids who have stuck it out in the public middle schools ought to be rewarded, but system officials say they must treat all city residents equally.
On the bright side for everyone interested in attending a citywide high school, the school system is planning to give these schools money for additional staff in the coming years so they can admit more students. Some of the schools have extra space but must cap enrollment because of insufficient staff.
The public is encouraged to provide the school board with feedback on the policy change before its vote Feb. 12. We at InsideEd, of course, always encourage your feedback here...
In other school board news: I reported today on the appointments of Michael Sarbanes and Irma Johnson. Sarbanes will oversee the communications department (led by Edie House), the parent involvement office (led by LaVerne Sykes), and the office of community partnerships (led by Deb Silcox).
Check out this post on Baltimore Diary about Johnson's appointment as executive director of elementary and elementary/middle schools (even though it criticizes my story today!). Diary makes an important point: It looks like Dr. Alonso is phasing out the area academic officer positions. That wasn't a topic I was able to delve into last night in the midst of deadline, but I hope to be able to do a bigger story soon about principal supervision in the system. It does look like big changes are coming.
Michael Pitroff was officially named interim information technology officer last night, replacing the ousted Howard Steptoe. Dean Richburg was appointed coordinator of college readiness.