Maryland's rate of student chronic absence isn't as bad as first reported

It turns out that Maryland doesn’t have the highest rate of chronic student absence in the nation, as Attendance Works reported last summer. Its report was reissued this week after the authors revised it to reflect updated Prince George’s County data. Maryland now has a 20.8 percent rate of chronic absence and is ranked 10th worst in the country. The error was first reported by The Baltimore Sun in September in an article that noted it was unlikely that 80 percent of Prince George’s County’s students were absent for 10 percent or more of the total school days in the 2015-2016 school year. (Balt. Sun)

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Half of Anne Arundel's non-native speaking students struggle to keep up

Low English language proficiency test scores didn’t come as a surprise to Anne Arundel County school officials, who are adjusting to a population of non-native speaking students that is growing faster than the school system can keep up. Forty-three percent of middle school students learning English are making progress in language proficiency — falling just a couple percentage points below state standards — according to data from the Maryland State Department of Education. “When the numbers came out I wouldn’t say we were surprised at all,” said Shelley Hartford, coordinator of the county schools English Language Acquisition program. (Capital)

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To address high school crowding, Howard school system approves students voluntarily moving schools

Students who currently attend Centennial or Howard high schools can request to move to a different school for the upcoming academic year. On Tuesday, the school system announced a plan to allow voluntary transfers from the county’s two most crowded high schools to either Glenelg or Marriotts Ridge. Students approved will begin attending their new high school in the 2019-2020 school year. Families will need to provide their own transportation. (Ho. Co. Times)

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Judge puts demolition of Towson Chabad on hold pending appeal

A court order to raze a Towson outreach center for Jewish students was placed on hold Thursday when a Baltimore County Circuit Court judge granted a request to defer demolition pending an appeal. The decision by Judge Kathleen Cox puts a pause on an order that would have required Chabad, a Hasidic Jewish organization, to set aside money to start the demolition process. That order had been scheduled to take effect Thursday. The decision is the latest legal step in a years-long battle between Chabad of Towson, which serves as a center for Jewish students attending Towson University and Goucher College, and its neighbors. (Balt. Sun)

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Redistricting process to relieve crowding at Catonsville's Johnnycake Elementary School begins

A committee of nine teachers, school officials, parents and community members met for the first time this week to discuss potential boundary changes to relieve overcrowding at Johnnycake Elementary School. Johnnycake Elementary in Catonsville is currently home to 717 students, in a building rated for 559 students, according to enrollment data from Baltimore County Public Schools. The nearby Edmondson Heights Elementary School, which is going through the boundary change process with Johnnycake, is about 50 students under capacity. (Balt. Sun)

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Freetown Elementary rallies around book event

More than 100 Freetown Elementary School students and parents combed through stacks of brand new books at the school's final book-centered family night Wednesday. Students were encouraged to select up to five books to keep in their home library, or return to the school. Cheyanne Walker, 12, and her sister Jayden, 10, selected several books each. They said they love to read. The event was part of Freetown Rises Up, an initiative created by Principal Amanda Edmonds, along with reading specialist Erin Johanson and math resource teacher Julie Taylor to encourage students, teachers, parents and community members to improve student achievement in reading and math. (Balt. Sun)

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Carroll school board, superintendent request $8.9 million more in budget funds than last year

Carroll County Public Schools Superintendent Steven Lockard presented his first proposed budget at the January Board of Education meeting Wednesday night, requesting a 4.65 percent increase from last year’s request for the 2020 fiscal year. “The proposed budget asks for a local increase ... equivalent to $8.9 million over last year’s request,” said Lockard at the meeting. “The recommended FY20 operating budget will then be available for public comment until the February meeting, at which time we will adopt the requested budget for us to submit to commissioners.” (Carroll County Times)

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Education official: Allegany County school board shows 'troubling' and 'encouraging signs'

Despite a chaotic first public meeting of the new Allegany County school board on Tuesday, a local education association official talked of “hopeful” signs for the future. Evan West is the UniServe director for the Allegany and Garrett county branches of the Maryland State Education Association. According to MSEA’s website, the organization “works to empower members to make a positive difference in their professional lives in order to elevate the quality of public education for all students.” (Times-News)

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