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Carroll County school board to discuss politically neutral teaching in classroom, summer recovery, capital projects

The Carroll County Board of Education will discuss a politically neutral teaching standard for the classroom, grade results from summer recovery learning and capital improvement projects on Thursday.

The board will first meet with the Carroll County Board of County Commissioners at 3:30 p.m., followed by a work session at 5:30 p.m. and a hearing on the capital improvement projects at 7:30 p.m.

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The board unanimously voted in July to have Superintendent Steve Lockard develop a policy that keeps a politically neutral stance in the classroom and in the school’s curriculum. During that meeting, board member Donna Sivigny said she’d specifically like to see critical race theory, the 1619 project and the 1776 project banned from classrooms.

Parents have voiced their disapproval of critical race theory claiming it’s used to create division and discriminate against white people. However, the American Bar Association states critical race theory “recognizes that racism is not a bygone relic of the past” but acknowledges that slavery, segregation “and the imposition of second-class citizenship on Black Americans and other people of color” still impacts the nation today.

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Carroll County Public Schools have said they do not teach critical race theory, however, parents claim it’s disguised under the system’s equity policy.

The board’s policy, titled “political activities of Carroll County Public Schools Employees,” states that although employees are allowed to participate in politics or political campaigns, they cannot engage in political activity while on the job during working hours, advocate the overthrow of government by unconstitutional and violent means, or be obligated to contribute or render political service during working hours.

“We’ll look at any current policies we have and then get recommendations from the BOE on what they would like to see revised/added,” Cindy McCabe, chief of schools, said in an email Tuesday.

During the summer recovery discussion, board members are expected to hear how students fared and examine results of a test they took at the end of the program. Jason Anderson, chief academics, equity and accountability officer, said it went “extremely well” and that the results give him hope students will perform better academically this year.

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Last school year, the pandemic and breaks in the traditional academic process caused the number of failing grades to be at least three times higher than in the same quarter of the previous school year. The system’s recovery services were expected to get them back on track.

The board will also hold a public hearing at 7:30 p.m. for the capital improvement projects budgeted for the fiscal 2024-2028 years. Board members will also discuss some of these projects with the commissioners at 3:30 p.m.

Highlights of capital improvement requests for fiscal 2023 include a third installment of state funds for the Carroll County Career and Technology Center project, the remaining state share of construction funding for the East Middle School replacement project and an additional $5.2 million of local construction funding necessary to meet the East Middle replacement construction contract.

The projects will be back on the board of education’s agenda for approval Oct. 13.

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