Lansdowne High absenteeism down from last year, but still a priority for school leadership

Last year at Lansdowne High School, about 41 percent of students were chronically absent. So far this year, about 36 percent of students are chronically absent. While Principal Ken Miller is glad to see the number a bit lower this year, he and others at the school admit they still have much work to do to improve attendance rates. The large number of students chronically absent, which means they’ve missed 10 percent or more of school days, played a significant role in Lansdowne earning just two out of five possible stars in Maryland’s new rating system for schools. (Balt. Sun)

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4th Circuit orders parties to settle dispute over Md. college segregation

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ordered mediation for Maryland and its historically black institutions rather than ruling on cross-appeals argued last month in a lawsuit that dates back to 2006. The court issued a per curium order Wednesday instructing the Maryland Higher Education Commission and the Coalition for Equity and Excellence in Maryland Higher Education Inc. to meet with a mediator promptly to resolve the litigation, finding “neither party has a realistic appreciation of the strengths and weaknesses of their respective claims and contentions.” (Daily Record)

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Environmental concerns raise questions about Shady Side cell tower study

Concerns about protecting county wetlands have brought attention to an environmental study behind the controversial cellphone tower project at Shady Side Elementary School. The October 2017 study revealed large swaths of wetlands on the proposed cell tower site, a 17-acre wooded area on the school’s grounds. But the data was collected during an unusually dry period, potentially throwing off the report’s results, said a local engineer. “The fact of the matter is, during a drought it’s more likely that a data point for hydrology will show non-wetlands,” said Robert Kube, professional engineer with a background in environmental science, water hydrology, meteorological science and nuclear technology. (Capital)

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14-year-old girl arrested for emailing threats to Maryland schools

A 14-year-old girl was arrested Wednesday for making threats against two high schools and a middle school in Prince George’s County, Maryland, police said. The girl confessed to writing a series of emails containing threats against Bladensburg High School, Parkdale High School and William Wirt Middle School. Police concede the student didn’t have the means to carry out her threats, but her emails struck fear among hundreds of parents and students, and required a robust public safety response. (WTOP)

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Months with highest speed-camera citations were during summer school break

In August, when school wasn’t even in session, an average of 484 citations a day were issued for people caught by Washington County’s speed cameras. That’s almost 35 citations an hour for the cameras that operate 14 hours a day on weekdays. In July, an average of 527 citations were issued a day, or almost 38 an hour. While there were more total citations issued in August, there were fewer days the cameras were operating in July. Perhaps many drivers didn’t realize the 26 speed cameras near 16 public schools don’t stop operating during the summer school break. (Herald-Mail)

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As A’s surge, Md. leader pushes to stay the course, study possible grade inflation

Amid concerns about a surging number of A’s on high school report cards, leaders in Maryland’s largest school system will stick with the district’s grading policy and study questions of grade inflation over the next year or so. Jack Smith, superintendent in Montgomery County, has recommended possible refinements in 2019 or 2020 but urged elected leaders to first give the grading policy, in place less than three years, a longer run. (Wash. Post)

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Anne Arundel's new elected school board members seeking change

The county’s first-ever school board election introduced a new crop of members to the body that represents more than 83,000 children in Anne Arundel County. Candace Antwine, District 1; Michelle Corkadel, District 7; Melissa Ellis, District 4; and Dana Schallheim, District 5, took office in December. They won voters over with promises to return lost step increases to teachers, invest in school safety and keep cell phone towers off school property. (Balt. Sun)

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School Notes: FCPS takes first steps toward Liberty Elementary expansion

Frederick County Public Schools is taking the first steps to expand and renovate another elementary school. The planning process for the modernization and expansion of Liberty Elementary School kicked off this month with a feasibility study to explore the school’s needs and cost estimates for the project. In this study, FCPS staff will also consider completely replacing the school. The current building is 91 years old and hasn’t been renovated or expanded since 1982. (News-Post)

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