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Alternative school overhaul

Seatbelts buckled? The pace of reform in the Baltimore school system is getting faster still. Now, on top of decentralizing the way the system is managed and opening six new middle/high schools, Dr. Alonso and his team are going to create 1,200 new alternative school seats by August, including the creation of two new alternative schools. They're also requiring staff to reapply for their jobs at most existing alternative schools. To read more about their plan, see my story in today's paper.

The alternative school presentation was the centerpiece of last night's school board agenda, but it wasn't the only interesting development. Jimmy Gittings, president of the system's administrators union, got into a heated exchange with Alonso over what Gittings called the system's "deplorable" budget. He said he and the union's vice president had surveyed 54 principals and found that most will not have enough money in their individual school budgets to maintain current levels of staffing and extracurricular activities. Many did not feel they had adequate training. Alonso shot back that the schools that have to cut their budgets received disproportionately high levels of funding in the past. Questioning the validity of the union survey, he said the system will gather data by the end of the month showing how many schools did in fact have to cut positions under the new structure, which gives principals autonomy over their budgets instead of the central office. Gittings also threatened to sue Alonso and the school board if they transfer or terminate principals and assistant principals without documentation that their performance needed improvement. Alonso told him to go ahead; it won't stop him from making the decisions he feels are right for the kids.

Also during the public comment portion of the meeting, Shirley Cooper, a mother whose daughter attends Polytechnic Institute, spoke about a fire set at the school last Thursday. Her daughter was one of two students with asthma who were hospitalized. Amid the commotion, another student sprained an arm and another's head was hit. It's not just the "bad" schools that are having problems, Cooper said, questioning whether the incident at Poly had been reported. Alonso assured her that it had.

In spite of the controversy over locating one of the new middle/high schools at the Canton Middle building, Alonso reported that the six new schools have received 1,020 applications in the past week for 900 slots. He also reported that the system has recruited 668 volunteers since he called for 500 people to sign up. "We still want more," he said.

There were several new principal and administrative appointments last night, which I'll list below. In a few cases, principals at schools where the entire staff must reapply for their jobs were rehired.

Principal reappointments at zero-based schools:
James Linde, reappointed principal of Sharp-Leadenhall Elementary
Nancy Faulkner, principal of Harford Heights Primary, appointed principal of Harford Heights Primary/Intermediate
Roxanne Thorn-Lumpkins, reappointed principal of Sinclair Lane Elementary

Principal appointments:
Mark Bongiovanni, assistant principal at Hazelwood Elementary, appointed principal of Dunbar Middle
Eugene Chong Qui, assistant principal at West Baltimore Middle, promoted to principal of the same school
Lamarge Wyatt, area executive assistant, appointed principal of Forest Park High
Jason Hartling, resident principal at Vivien T. Thomas Medical Arts Academy, appointed principal of Northwestern High
C. Michael Robinson, principal of a school in Greenville, Ga., appointed principal of Coldstream Park Elementary/Middle
Stacy Place, resident principal of William Paca Elementary, promoted to principal of the same school
Michael Frederick, principal of Carver Vocational-Technical High, appointed principal of the Reach! School
Ian Roberts, resident principal of Heritage High, appointed principal of Friendship Academy of Science and Technology (to be located at Canton Middle School)
Joy Savage, assistant principal of Western High, appointed principal of Maritime Industries Academy
Paul Covington, managing assistant principal of New Era Academy, promoted to principal of the same school
Susan Wheeler, science curriculum specialist, appointed principal of Friendship Academy of Engineering and Technology
D'Andrea Chapman, resident principal of Mount Washington Elementary, appointed principal of Collington Square Elementary

Central office appointments:
Helen Shelton, principal of North Bend Elementary, appointed academic director of elementary education
James Drummond, area executive assistant, appointed director of elementary operations
Christine Watson, area executive assistant, appointed director of elementary operations
Lisa Tarter reappointed director of career and technology
Donna Stewart, staff associate for drug abuse and violence prevention, appointed director of health and science
Nicole Gavin, coordinator of elementary restructuring, appointed director of literacy
Brenda Kelly reappointed director of early childhood
Debra Barbour, interim director of student learning support, appointed academic director of special education and student learning support
Jay Salkauskas, interim director of special education monitoring and compliance, promoted to the permanent position

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