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Carroll County Times
Carroll County Education

Carroll County school board holds first discussion on strategic plan for the next five years

The Carroll County Board of Education is working to create a strategic plan for the public school system’s next five years, focusing on growth in student success, family and community partnerships, and support for staff.

The school board held its first work session Monday afternoon to create the new strategic plan. The current five-year plan is due to expire next year and a new plan is due to the state by March 15.

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“It’s a living document, and you constantly tweak it,” said Board of Education President Kenneth Kiler, “but we hope to learn from it and to use that information to improve.”

The Carroll County Public Schools strategic plan has four pillars that categorize the ways in which the system seeks to improve: pathways for student success, family and community partnerships, developing and supporting the school system workforce, and establishing positive learning environments.

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Progress toward goals set in each category were discussed and evaluated Monday.

The board chose third-grade reading levels, eighth-grade algebra enrollment and ninth-grade test scores as metrics to monitor growth in the student pathways to success pillar. Based on data presented, board members discussed raising the threshold for success for students enrolled in algebra and continuing to work toward goals set for third-grade reading levels and ninth-grade test scores.

Board Vice President Tara Battaglia said the pandemic switch to online learning hampered progress and threw a wrench in the data.

“It’s gonna be a gradual process towards the goals we set,” Battaglia said. “People are still processing everything that happened regarding COVID-19. Our kids were part of a vulnerable group, especially with growing and learning and their development, so progress is going to take some time.”

Unlike other success metrics, family involvement in events rose amid the pandemic before falling as restrictions lifted. Carroll County Superintendent Cynthia McCabe said she would love to see every CCPS family attend at least one event per school year. The superintendent said she plans to continue to host events that have been well-attended in past years and to offer more programs that provide resources for specific family needs, such as mental health and drug awareness.

Regarding the pillar that deals with developing and supporting a successful workforce, the board discussed setting a goal for employee retention percentages to be the same across all demographics.

White employee retention has been higher than minority employee retention for three of the last four years according to staffing report data presented at the meeting.

Board member Patricia Dorsey said she would also like to see employee demographics reflect student demographics as much as possible.

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“You can defeat negative stereotypes when you can see everybody is working together,” Dorsey said, “and it’s important for kids to see that.”

Dorsey is running for reelection to the Board of Education in the election next month.

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Employee retention has suffered in recent years, which Battaglia said is another byproduct of the pandemic. She said it would be helpful to compare Carroll County’s retention percentages to those across the state. Specific data were not available, but should be within the next two months, according to school staff.

Board member Donna Sivingny said it is important to continue to make money available in the budget for school building renovations in order to maintain healthy and modern environments for students and staff. The system consists of more than 40 buildings.

“We need to be asking for 40-plus million dollars in capital improvements every year and then prioritize the things that need to happen next,” Sivingny said.

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Battaglia said the board will be able to better strategize once more information is released from the State of Maryland. Regardless, Battaglia, who is running for reelection next month to the school board, said she expects post-pandemic learning loss will be a top priority for the school system moving forward.

The school board will continue to develop the 2023-2028 strategic plan, but does not yet have a date set for its next work session on the topic.


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