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Carroll County school board briefed on recovery plan for up to 6,000 students that could last 2 years, cost some $7 million

Carroll County Board of Education members were briefed about a recovery plan that will require money, staffing and collaboration.

Student recovery and compensatory services at Carroll County Public Schools is expected to last between 18 months and two years. Staff created a preliminary plan for recovery between the summer of 2021-2022 and presented it to the school board Wednesday night. It includes bringing students in five days a week for three hours a day, spending about $5 million during the summer and $750,000 to $1 million each semester during the 2021-2022 school year for recovery and compensatory services.

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Due to a large number of students not meeting grade level standards based on the local and state assessments as well as the number of failing grades last semester, 2,000 to 2,500 special education students and 2,500 to 3,5000 general education students will need help recovering.

Jason Anderson, chief academics, equity and accountability officer, called the recovery plan a “comprehensive systematic effort” that will require academic support, nurses and transportation on a daily basis. They are working to recruit teachers who are willing to take on the responsibility, will identify the 6,000 students who need the services and invite them to join.

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Anderson said they will also need instructional assistants but the concern is if they will recruit enough to provide a ratio that would be effective. The plan is to not exceed a 14-to-1 student-to-teacher ratio for the recovery services, which is “by no means a quality instructional ratio,” Anderson said. The plan is to recruit staff and identify students this month, plan for transportation in April and later make sure they have the appropriate intervention for each student.

It was reported during the Feb. 24 board meeting that 44 teachers had been hired since October, the month they started hybrid learning for the first time, and there are now 23 vacancies. The system hired 20 instructional assistants since October, and now have 62 vacancies. The last applicant pool contained five qualified candidates. There are 98 vacancies for student support assistants though 108 were hired since the fall.

Compensatory and recovery services will be offered during next school year with extended learning opportunities after school, Saturdays or other times. or this summer, recovery and compensatory services will be provided from July 6 to Aug. 6 on a half-day schedule with students who require extended school year services staying for the second half of the day.

“Academic recovery and compensatory services will not stop Aug. 6,” Anderson said.

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In the fall, the school system is anticipating 3,000 students and 215 teachers three days a week for about $750,000 to $1 million. They are anticipating the same for the spring. The summer of 2022 services are expected to cost the same as the summer 2021 services but with half the number of students and teachers.

Board member Patricia Dorsey said it should be a great model and is interested to see how many students will participate.

Fellow member Ken Kiler noted the back and forth on state assessments, which were recently delayed until fall by Maryland State Department of Education, and said the county has the freedom to do its own evaluations on student’s academic levels rather than relying on the state test.

“We don’t want to wait until the fall to see how our kids are doing,” Anderson said, adding they want to use local assessments instead. He also said they need to be listening to the teachers as well.

Angie McCauslin, director of curriculum and instruction, said teachers and staff are identifying students who need the services and creating a plan to assess where students are academically.

“It’s important to have the classroom teachers involved in all those conversations,” she said.

Board president Marsha Herbert said it’s a lot of money but they have to do this right. She also said she’s concerned about the student-to-teacher ratio.

“I know that those small tutoring groups after school would be very successful,” she said before mentioning how test scores increased after tutoring was implemented in the past.

Herbert said she hopes staff returns with more information.

Superintendent Steve Lockard said they are trying to identify locations for the recovery programs and that it could be a regional site as opposed to three elementary schools in the same area, for example. It depends on who is attending and how much space they need. And, in response to Herbert, he said the plan for the fall is to have three- to four-person groups after school.

“I’m not going to tell you it’s easy. I’m not going to tell you everyday every day doesn’t provide some challenge for us,” Lockard said. “We have to make it happen. We have to get it done.”

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