The Howard County school board identified 10 schools last week that are falling behind the county's academic standards, pledging to do what it can to provide extra resources to help them improve.
Board members also grappled with how the school system should make up snow days in future calendars, debating in its meeting Thursday night whether days lost to bad weather next school year should be taken out of spring break or added to the third week of June.
The board already has decided to extend the current school year until June 19 to make up for time lost to bad weather this school year.
In making its second annual list of elementary, middle and high schools that are in need of extra assistance, the board examined scores from the most recent state and national performance tests.
Of the 55 elementary, middle and high schools in the county, the 10 found most in need of extra assistance were: Dasher Green, Elkridge, Jeffers Hill, Laurel Woods, Talbott Springs and Running Brook elementary schools; Hammond, Mayfield Woods and Patuxent Valley middle schools; and Wilde Lake High School.
Superintendent Michael E. Hickey's leadership council had identified an 11th school that was not targeted by the board -- Wilde Lake Middle School. "No one likes to be on this list," said Dr. Hickey. "But the principals I have talked to appreciate knowing this will get them some additional resources that other schools don't get."
Those extra resources typically include additional attention from curriculum supervisors to help teachers at the schools with staff development. Targeted schools sometimes receive extra staff, too. There is no set dollar figure or number of staff hours attached.
Associate Superintendent Maurice Kalin emphasized that the schools identified by the board still are doing far better than many others elsewhere in the state. The state is considering taking over Maryland's worst-performing schools in a process known as reconstitution.
"Our lowest schools are three times higher than the schools being considered for reconstitution," Dr. Kalin said.
Four of the schools identified by the school board for lagging test scores also were on a list of schools picked to receive extra resources last year -- Dasher Green, Elkridge, Talbott Springs and Hammond.
Two schools on last year's list improved enough for the board to remove them from the list of low-achieving schools -- Stevens Forest and Waterloo elementary schools.
In other business, Howard board members appeared divided over the best way to make up days that may be canceled by bad weather next year.
Members agreed that the first make-up day for next year would be President's Day, and that the second and third snow days would be added to the end of the school year -- requiring students to attend classes through the second week of June.
But board members didn't agree on whether it would be better to schedule make-up days during spring break or to extend the 1996-1997 school year into the third week of June.
Board members said they would decide on the final calendar for next year at a Feb. 22 meeting.