BALTIMORE – Maryland education officials Tuesday said nine more schools — six in Baltimore and three in Prince George’s County — performed poorly enough on state tests last year to be eligible for state takeover.
The nine additions bring the total number of schools eligible for a state takeover to 97. All but two of those schools are in Prince George’s or Baltimore.
The state has yet to take over any schools, however, and state Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick said Tuesday that she will not recommend actual state intervention this year, to give new master plans in both Baltimore and Prince George’s a chance to succeed.
Prince George’s County Superintendent Jerome Clark said the announcement was “hard medicine to take.” But he assured the state board of education that he will make the disappointment “an opportunity to go into the lives of students and make interventions.”
Baltimore City Chief Executive Officer of Schools Robert Booker said he was disappointed, but not disturbed to see six schools added to the list in a year when his school system improved its test scores overall.
Booker thanked Grasmick for giving him time to implement his master plan, which she called a substantive effort to effect change. Booker said the city must recruit and retain more qualified teachers to improve the standing of its schools.
The six Baltimore schools added to the takeover list Tuesday are: Alexander Hamilton, Federal Hill, Frankford Intermediate, Furley, Highlandtown #215 and North Bend elementaries.
Booker said he will study the six schools so he can “look the principals of each, eyeball to eyeball, and say, `What happened?'”
Since the state began threatening in 1993 to “reconstitute” failing schools, 83 Baltimore schools have been put on the eligible list. Prince George’s County is next, with Tuesday’s additions bringing its total number of takeover-threatened schools to 12.
The only other school systems to make the list are Anne Arundel and Somerset counties, which have one school each eligible for reconstitution.
The three Prince George’s schools added to the list Tuesday are: Bladensburg, Doswell E. Brooks and Thomas S. Stone elementaries.
Clark said Thomas S. Stone has already been targeted for aggressive improvements and that seven of the nine schools that were previously placed on the list have improved.
Clark said his only qualm with the state’s plan is its nebulous explanation of how schools get off the list, a problem the state board debated before announcing the additions. Several of the members, led by Andrew Edwards, agreed to work on honing a more specific list of expectations.
Elementary schools become eligible for “reconstitution” if they consistently fail to meet standards in attendance levels and on statewide tests in third- and fifth-grades.
Local school systems must submit a proposal to the state board by April 1 outlining a plan to correct problems in the targeted schools. If the state board approves the plan, the school system must has until June 1 to submit a list of specific programs and deadlines designed for the following school year, and it must submit a final plan by the following May 1.
The state only removes control of schools from local boards if their initial plans fail.
Grasmick said she never envisioned this number of eligible schools in one system when the plan was designed. But she said a massive state intervention in Baltimore would be inappropriate this year because it would not reflect her confidence in Booker, only in his sixth month as head of Baltimore City Schools.