By Caitlyn Freeman
The Board of Education for Anne Arundel County Public Schools (AACPS) conducted their bi-weekly meeting on Wednesday, December 19th. Here are three important takeaways from Wednesday’s meeting.
1. Dr. George Arlotto, AACPS Superintendent, recommends a $1.26 billion operating budget for the 2020 Fiscal Year
According to Arlotto’s plan, the budget would include funding for 295.6 new positions. He also proposes $35.1 million towards a compensation increase for AACPS employees which is to be divided as:
$7.5 million for a mid-year pay increase.
$14 million to fund step increases.
$13.6 million as a compensation placeholder in case of a standard of living increase or for back steps.
Arlotto allocated $2.1 million to increase extracurricular pay for teachers from $25 per hour to $30 as well as $928,000 to increase the pay for substitute teachers by $10 per day. He also included $3.1 million for 47.3 new special education teachers.
During his budget address, Arlotto also discussed the increase in the county’s student self-harm rate.
“… we are seeing more extreme behavioral issues and at younger ages than ever before,” said Arlotto. As a result of this, he is asking for $1.4 million to fund 13 positions: seven school counselors, three psychologists, and three social workers.
“Three of those counselors would be deployed to elementary schools, and two each will go to the middle and high school levels,” Arlotto added.
Arlotto’s full recommended 2020 fiscal year budget plan can be found at http://www.aacps.org.
2. Board member Robert C. Lieb agreed to meet with Annapolis Pride following controversial social media posts
During the public comment section of Wednesday night’s meeting, representatives from several organizations addressed the board about Lieb’s previous posts on Facebook that, according to a November 30th Capital Gazette article, were seen as biased against African-Americans, Muslims, immigrants, and the LGBTQ+ community.
Rev. Diana Carroll, Rector at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church located in Eastport Annapolis and member of Annapolis Pride, was one of the many representatives to address the board about Lieb’s post.
In her testimony, Carroll said “we are deeply concerned about the disrespectful statements that Mr. Robert Lieb chose to share on Facebook regarding several groups of people including people who are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer.”
Carroll continued to discuss the challenges LGBTQ+ students have endured throughout their lives, especially in public school settings. “[…] we know personally the damage that such hurtful statements can cause. Especially, when made by public figures in positions of trust,” Carroll said.
According to the organization’s Facebook page, “Annapolis Pride celebrates the LGBTQ+ community, engaging local residents, businesses and groups to unite in welcoming and embracing diversity in Annapolis.”
“On behalf of Annapolis Pride, I am here tonight to ask you to meet with us. To have conversation with us. We want to work with you. We want to work with all of you, the whole Board of Education to make our schools safer for every one of our children,” said Carroll. “Mr. Lieb, will you agree to meet with us?” she asked Lieb directly.
“Yes, Absolutely,” Lieb replied after giving Carroll a thumbs up.
3. The Board of Education is reviewing the possibility of making Arundel’s Global Citizenship class a graduation requirement throughout the county
During his budget address, Arlotto spoke about the possibility of the county making the Global Citizenship Course , which is currently a required class for freshmen students at Arundel, a countywide graduation requirement.
“[…] we are making the Global Community Citizenship Course a graduation requirement for high school students beginning with next year’s freshman class. The course, developed by Arundel High School two years ago, requires students to identify and discuss topics, events, and issues relevant to the local communities and explore the meaning of cultural, historical, and religious customs and traditions with the goal of fostering values, empathy, acceptance, and inclusion for all people,” Arlotto said.
The change in curriculum is still under consideration by the board.
“Society’s changing,” Arlotto said when asked why the county is considering to implement the course in all schools.
To stream past meetings and view the meeting calendar, visit https://www.aacps.org/cable