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School liaison sought by city


To increase Annapolis' clout with the county Board of Education, members of the Annapolis city council and Mayor Ellen O. Moyer are backing a measure that would establish an education commission to represent the Annapolis High School feeder system.

The measure would create a liaison between the city and the county school board. The commission also would collaborate with other organizations to obtain resources and facilities for city schools.

The proposal is set to come before the city council tomorrow evening.

"It's a way of being more visible and much more of an advocate for the city," Moyer said. "We think we have some different and some special issues and concerns because we are an urban school district."

Currently, there is an ad-hoc Education Advisory Committee, but Moyer said a commission would strengthen the city's hand.

The elementary and middle schools that funnel pupils into Annapolis High School face issues involving teacher retention, declining enrollment and low test scores.

For example, the percentage of eighth-graders at Annapolis Middle School performing well on the Maryland School Assessments who were African-American, low-income or in special education has lagged in state progress goals in past years.

Ward 4 Alderman Wayne Taylor, who is co-sponsoring the measure that would set up a commission, said the panel would focus on the achievement gap between Annapolis cluster schools and county schools.

"We're talking about addressing it and bringing it to the school board as a city, not just as an advisory board or PTA," he said. "We have some areas that are low-income housing, we have a lot of diversity, more Hispanics, and we need to address that."

Taylor said the commission would seek volunteers and mentors to help students who are falling behind, and also would focus on improving the graduation rate.

"I'd like to see a huge class graduate," he said. "I think the City of Annapolis is behind this. They want to see this."

From discussions with PTA presidents, members of the county school board and education advocates, Taylor said it was clear that the bill would have widespread support. Among the supporters are Ward 6 Alderman Julie Stankivic and Board of Education members Eugene Peterson and Enrique Melendez.

Melendez, whose district includes Annapolis, said the commission would promote communication and help the city focus its voice. Rather than adding a layer of bureaucracy, it would help him and other board members do their jobs by creating a single point of contact between the board and the city government, he said.

"Every community has a group," he said. "Crofton has one. Severna Park has a group. Why not Annapolis?"

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