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Board finds no relief in new year Schools again face state budget cuts


With three new members, the Board of Education will kick off its new year tomorrow the same way it ended the last one -- discussing budget cuts.

The board, with new members Michael Pace, Joseph Foster and student member Jay Witcher, will decide on how the school system will deal with recently announced state budget cuts to non-mandated school programs.

State officials announced July 15 that the county would be losing $305,122 for such non-mandated programs as the highly touted Maryland's Tomorrow, for students at risk of dropping out of school.

Programs such as the External Diploma Program, which provide training and education for adults, and Schools for Success, which provides grants to schools, could also face severe cuts.

The board also will hear its monthly update on the Maryland School Performance Assessment Program, which sets minimum standards for student achievement and tells schools how well they are being met.

After enduring two years of complaints about the tests from administrators, teachers, parents and students, the board last school year announced it would ask the state Department of Education to take a closer look at the MSPAP.

In addition, board members are expected to receive a report from the county delegation that attended last month's state Board of Education meeting.

Marred by controversy since it was first administered in May 1991, the MSPAP came under fire once again when teachers' unions, including the Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County, complained that at least two of the questions included on the test were inappropriate and offensive.

The questions that generated much of the controversy asked fifth-graders to determine the constitutionality of nude dancing and the constitutionality of the Ku Klux Klan marching in a parade. Teachers pointed out that most fifth-grade students had yet to study the Constitution.

The board also will receive a report on the issue of increasing the minimum grade-point average for students participating in extracurricular activities. Currently, the school system requires students to have a minimum GPA of 1.67.

Board member Thomas Twombly has been leading the call to increase the minimum GPA to 2.00.

The board will meet at 9 a.m. at school system headquarters, 2644 Riva Road in Annapolis. The public is invited.

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