Comments to the Board Jul 2023

July 11, 2023

Good evening, Chairwoman Mrs. Lichter, Vice-Chair Mrs. Harvey, Superintendent Dr. Yarbrough, and members of the board.

Thank you for the opportunity to speak on behalf of CASE.

Welcome back to Ms. Stolusky as our newest board member. Thank you for your dedication and commitment to the students of BCPS.

There are 2 significant issues that CASE members face this summer.

Special Education Support for Elementary Schools

The first issue is special education support at the elementary level. Last year BCPS planned to provide IEP facilitators to elementary schools. The plan had to be changed because of the staffing shortage. The facilitator positions had to be returned to the classroom. That was absolutely the right solution to the immediate problem of staffing. But the special education support problem remains.

The workload for assistant principals is unmanageable. Assistant principals are responsible for informal and formal observations of staff, transportation, discipline, testing, staff development, and IEP facilitation. That’s just the big rocks. There are dozens of problems to be solved each day.

If your school only services inclusion and speech students, you dedicate one day a week to TEAM meetings. If you have a regional program, add on an additional day of TEAM meetings. If you have more than one regional program, add on an additional day of TEAM. If your program supports students that struggle with appropriate behavior, add on a last minute meeting every time the behavior might lead to a disciplinary action. Some APs run TEAM 3 days a week. But they still have to do all the other tasks.

Assistant principals don’t get the opportunity to become instructional leaders and prepare to become principals without extraordinary efforts. They are dedicated so they get it done. They work from 6 am to 11:00 at night. They work weekends. They miss plays and sporting events for their own kids. We must solve this problem. Although I spoke today about elementary assistant principals, secondary assistant principals face similar workload issues. I will speak to their plight at another meeting.

Staffing Shortage

The second issue is the staffing shortage. Once schools have completed hiring, specific supports must be available to schools that still have openings. Currently staffing shortages are covered by teachers that are paid to teach during their planning times and support staff like resource teachers and paraeducators. This is absolutely the right thing to do in an emergency. But we can’t continue to operate in emergency mode. It’s not sustainable, and students and staff lose out with this option.

Program and course choice must be modified to match the available staff. Online, virtual, and self-paced options must be available and expanded for students to get the courses they need and want but aren’t available when there is not enough staff.

Thank you for the opportunity to speak on behalf of CASE.

—Billy Burke, Executive Director