The Frederick County Board of Education received a progress report this week on how it is meeting the priorities of the five “aspirational goals” set out by the school system in a five-year plan implemented in 2016.

The five goals were established to make sure the school system remains high-performing and competitive against other Maryland school districts. Progress reports have been regularly presented to the school board for the past three years.

Jamie Aliveto, executive director of system accountability and school administration, and Natalie Gay, coordinator of data analysis and research for FCPS, presented the update at Wednesday’s meeting and proposed revisions to aspirational goals four and five, which deal with family and community involvement and health and safety, respectively.

For the goal of dealing with family and community involvement, Aliveto and Gay proposed that FCPS continue surveying parents and families regarding family-to-school relationships. What do families want from a relationship with their school and how can it improve were two of the focuses, Aliveto asked.

“We’d like to hear from our families on measuring family and school partnership and what’s important to them, how do they define it,” Aliveto said.

They also proposed that in addition to surveys, FCPS should hold focus groups in order to get more direct and targeted feedback.

According to a timeline presented by Aliveto and Gay, the focus groups, if approved, would be conducted in October and November and surveys will be administered in January and February.

Board member Michael Bunitsky seemed to be on board with the idea.

“That doesn’t sound too intrusive, and it doesn’t sound too burdensome. It seems like you’re going in the right direction,” Bunitsky said.

Other businessIn addition to this discussion, the school board voted and passed four different agenda items.

In the work session, the board approved declaring surplus of two properties belonging to Frederick County Public Schools. After final approval is received from the state superintendent of schools, notice will be sent to the County Council, which will then work to determine the future use of the property.

The two properties, one in the Dearbought neighborhood off Md. 26 and the other next to Tuscarora Elementary School in the Linton neighborhood, are not large enough to meet current FCPS elementary school specifications. The Dearbought property is 10 acres and the Linton property is 4.6 acres. FCPS requires sites for elementary schools be at least 15 acres.

The item was brought to the school board due to expressed interest by the charter schools of FCPS in acquiring school site properties. The declaration of the properties as surplus was approved unanimously, including student member support. Board member Joy Schaefer was not present for the vote.

All three action items on the agenda for the board’s regular meeting were also passed unanimously with student member support. Schaefer was again not present for voting, and there was no discussion of the items.

The items included customary staffing changes, an update to a policy relating to school and workplace safety, and the approval of the brand-new “Policy 446, Student Suicide Prevention and Safety Training.”

As part of implementing the Maryland Safe to Learn Act of 2018, the board was required to adopt a policy related to school safety by Sept. 1 for the establishment of threat assessment and management teams. The teams, according to rewritten Policy 111, will identify, assess and intervene with individuals whose behavior may pose a risk to school safety.

The new policy regarding student suicide prevention and training was first discussed by the Policy Committee in March. The first draft reading was presented to the Board of Education on Aug. 14, when it was motioned to be added as an action item for the next meeting.

The policy requires all FCPS staff who have direct contact with students to complete annual training which will include understanding signs of suicide risk and how to get student professional help.

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