Carroll school board looks at parent engagement, rallies with teachers

Carroll school board looks at parent engagement, rallies with teachers
During the March monthly Board of Education meeting, members recounted the Teacher's March in Annapolis and looked at community engagement goals tied to the school system's strategic plan. (Courtesy Photo)

It had been a few days since state teachers marched in Annapolis, but Carroll County Board of Education member Tara Battaglia was metaphorically still on the rally bus.

As she delivered her report during the board’s monthly meeting Wednesday, she raised a red cowbell from behind the podium and rattled it.


Battaglia was not the only member of the board or the Carroll County Public Schools staff who recounted traveling with the Carroll County Education Association as they joined thousands of others rallying during the March for Our Schools on Monday, March 11.

“I left with that mountaintop feeling Friday night. Then that Tuesday morning classroom brought me to reality,” said Tony Roman, an educator and the chief negotiator for CCEA as he spoke during the public comment period.

But he said he is hopeful for the future.

“[We’re] open to be able to cross that divide with you,” he told the board.

As they had at many meetings before, the CCEA members stood in solidarity when one of their members spoke and filled rows of seats with educators clad in red.

Teresa McCulloh, CCEA president, invited elected officials to visit classrooms to see teachers’ “challenges and success while meeting needs of our students.”

She encouraged the public to reach out to their congressional representatives, especially about pertinent bills (SB-1030, HB-1413).

Public comment came earlier in the meeting, which was the first held after revising the structure to ensure citizens wouldn’t have to wait until the end of a long meeting to have their say. If the first public comment had gone over 30 minutes, a second one was built in later in the meeting.

Board member Patricia Dorsey said the new structure “served us well tonight.”

Strategic plan update

Wednesday’s update on one of the “pillars” of the strategic plan touched on Carroll County Public Schools’ goal to increase engagement from parents and the community at large.

“As we see families more engaged, we see more engagement of our students,” said Jason Anderson, executive director of School Performance, Equity and Accountability as he presented on Pillar 2 findings and future goals. Pillar 2 looks at how the school system can strengthen productive family and community partnerships.

The presentation covered a number of services and programs offered by the school system, and the full presentation can be found at linked in the minutes from the meeting. This included a list of 13 community programs and businesses that are partnering with CCPS to provide student opportunities.

Meeting participants discussed how to bolster the Community Advisory Council (CAC), which has representatives from 35 percent of schools. The goal is to reach 100 percent representation by 2023.

Board member Marsha Herbert asked why principals were having troubling drawing parent members.


Anderson said historically the committee had more robust participation when the board entrusted them with specific and meaningful tasks like appointing parent members to the Redistricting and School Closure Committee.

Board President Donna Sivigny said that going forward the board would look for ways to call on the CAC.

One of the initiatives pulling in lots of engagement is the CCPS International Telephone Line, which offers translation services to parents to help them engage in their child’s education. It is on track to surpass historical engagement. Patricia Burns, coordinator of the Interpretation and Translation Program, said there are nine languages that are most in demand with Spanish being the most frequently requested.

The goal to increase families reached by the Special Education Family Support Nights was also on track.

Going forward, the CCPS Parent, Family and Community Engagement policy is in the process of being updated. This will go along with re-imagining of roles and increased promotion of engagement opportunities by the school system’s Communications Team to increase participation.

The results of two surveys will be a source of data in the Pillar 2 areas. The Speak-Up Survey was recently completed and the data is awaiting analysis. The ESSA Climate Survey is upcoming.

“It’s important that we’re listening, as Dr. Lockard often says, but we also want to be responsive,” Anderson said, referring to Superintendent Steve Lockard.