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Principal Troy Barnes speaks during Century High School's graduation ceremony on June 5, 2018 at McDaniel College in Westminster. Barnes is the choice to be Carroll County Public Schools' first director of advanced academics.
Principal Troy Barnes speaks during Century High School's graduation ceremony on June 5, 2018 at McDaniel College in Westminster. Barnes is the choice to be Carroll County Public Schools' first director of advanced academics. (Ken Koons/Carroll County Times /)

Carroll County Public Schools has created a new position designed to better serve advanced students, including overseeing the school system’s Gifted and Talented program, and at Wednesday’s meeting of the Board of Education named Century High School principal Troy Barnes the county’s first supervisor of advanced academics.

In the role, Barnes will “support students, teachers and families with enrichment and acceleration learning opportunities PreK-12 in all of our schools. In addition, the supervisor will be responsible for the oversight of the instructional programming for those students who have been identified to receive Gifted and Talented services,” according to a CCPS spokesperson.

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Board of Education President Donna Sivigny said she thought Barnes was a good choice for the role. She noted that, at a previous work session, the board decided, “We need someone who’s going to wake up every day and eat, sleep, breathe what’s important about advanced academics.”

When Barnes transitions to the new role, Brian Booz, an assistant principal at Westminster High, will move to acting principal at Century. Mary Rivera, chairperson of the Westminster High School Physical Education and Health department, will move to an acting assistant principal role at Westminster.

The Gifted and Talented program (G&T) was the focus of a recent program evaluation and CCPS staff presented the results at a work session last month.

Those doing the evaluating looked at ways gifted and talented students are underserved in the school system and presented recommendations. The goal was to leave with recommendations for a three-year plan to improve the program.

One of the points identified was that the G&T program lacked a sole person overseeing that program, which this new position seems to address.

A major point of discussion was a new state mandate requiring that school districts identify at least 10% of the student population to receive G&T services.

Jason Anderson, chief of academics, equity and accountability for CCPS, said the regulation has met mixed reactions, but CCPS is going forward with ways to expand its program in order to accommodate more students.

“There’s lots of thoughts about that, as you can imagine,” he said to the board. “There are folks that are saying ‘hooray,’ and there are folks that are saying ‘Wait a second. Are we watering this down too much?’”

Ten percent is a minimum under the state regulation, though the school system may choose to provide services for more. This percentage applies to the school district as a whole, not on a school-by-school basis.

Anderson said CCPS staff is approaching the issue with the attitude that it’s “not for us to make that decision, it’s for us to provide a service, whether that’s 10% or whether that be 11% or 12%.”

Currently, CCPS offers G&T services in English language arts (ELA) and math. Sivigny mentioned 4% to 6% of students regarding previous G&T enrollment in CCPS.

Branching off from the discussion about the performance review, several members of the Board of Education chafed at the the mandated percentage and its implications on the school system. They questioned whether G&T program involvement is becoming a status symbol rather than a program to provide support for children who think differently. They also questioned whether the 10% number was undermining a robust identification system that is in place.

Their full discussion and the staff discussion of recommendations can be viewed in the meeting videos section of the CCPS website, carrollk12.org.

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