Board meeting musings, continued
A second-grade teacher from Eutaw-Marshburn Elementary spoke about the windows in her classroom being bolted shut and indoor temperatures exceeding 90 degrees, triggering asthma attacks in some of the children. Dr. Alonso asked Keith Scroggins, the chief operating officer, to rectify the situation immediately, and Scroggins planned to do so. The troubling part is, Scroggins said he's already dropped in at Eutaw-Marshburn twice so far this school year, and no one mentioned the problem in this classroom to him. Until Tuesday night, he knew nothing about it. As it turns out, a complaint had been filed with the school's building supervisor. But with direct access twice to a top system official, why didn't the principal go over that supervisor's head to complain about a safety hazard? This seems like an example of the chain-of-command culture in BCPSS that's going to be hard to change. Scroggins and his deputies have proven they're able to get building problems fixed quickly -- but someone first has to tell them what the problems are.
City Councilman Bill Henry also spoke at Tuesday's meeting. If he were in better shape, he said, he'd get down on his knees and beg the board to reinstate after-school funding that the city cut to Chinquapin Middle School, located in his district. He said he was begging since the problem wasn't one the school system created, but Chinquapin has gotten a rough deal lately on many counts. First, the system placed its new alternative middle school for over-age students in extra space in the Chinquapin building without consulting the community. And now that the building is home to some of the city's most troubled students, it's lost both its after-school program and its status as a Title 1 (aka, high-poverty) school, a designation that brings with it extra federal money.
Of six schools losing their after-school funding from the city, five are getting Title 1 money that could help make up the difference, Alonso said. Chinquapin is the exception.
The Title 1 issue for Chinquapin is the result of not enough students returning family income forms last year to apply for free and reduced-price lunch. Alonso stressed the importance of schools getting students to return these forms now. Those submitted this month will determine Title 1 status and funding for next year. For this year, nothing can be done, even though, as Alonso said, the Chinquapin neighborhood isn't exactly Beverly Hills. He told Henry he doesn't have to beg; the system will be stepping in to help the school.
Finally: a speaker complained that we wait too late to start teaching kids foreign languages. Alonso said he agreed and that will be changing in Baltimore. To be continued...