• Take Action Archive - February 2013

    2013-14 SY SMS Scheduling Training/Workshops

    Elementary school principals, please register schedulers for one of the upcoming SMS trainings.

    The elementary school SMS schedulers training and workshop for the 2013-14 school year will be held the second week of February at the Professional Development Center (PDC). Schedulers should sign up to attend one of the four sessions. Upon completion of the training, participants will be able to identify the best practices for scheduling in an elementary setting and leave with a scheduling foundation already in place for the 2013-14 school year. Schedulers must sign-up by registering through the Professional Growth System. Click here to register.

    SMS Elementary Scheduling Training and Workshop dates:

    • Monday, February 11, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
    • Tuesday, February 12, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
    • Wednesday, February 13, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
    • Thursday, February 14, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

    If you have any questions, please contact the ITD Service Support Center at 2-3000 (443-642-3000 externally) or ITDsupport@bcps.k12.md.us.

    Attendance Trainings

    Principals, please register appropriate staff for the two-part attendance trainings being held in January & February.

    The Office of Student Support and Safety, with the support of The Baltimore Student Attendance Campaign, will be holding a two-part attendance training this January.

    Part 1 - PLEASE NOTE: THE PART 1 TRAINING HAS ALREADY BEEN COMPLETED. Attendance and SMS: Using Data as a Tool for Improvement will be a technical training that will cover attendance tracking in SMS. This training is intended for attendance monitors seeking support for entering data into SMS and pulling reports. Registration for Part 1 is open through the Professional Growth System.

    Part 2 will be a network-based interactive training run by the Student Support Liaison for your network. Schools will be encouraged to share best practices and challenges and will actively create an attendance improvement plan for their school. Two staff members from each school are encouraged to attend –this could be the attendance monitor and an administrator or social worker. To register for Part 2, please click on the appropriate link below.

    Click here to find your school's network.

    Day/TimeMonday, February 4th Tuesday, February 5th Wednesday, February 6th Thursday, February 7th
    9 - 11:30 a.m.
    12:30 - 3 p.m.
    At these network-based trainings, Student Support Liaisons will cover the following topics:
    • attendance best practices
    • universal strategies for attendance improvement
    • school based roles & responsibilities
    • how to organize an effective attendance team
    • how to develop and implement an effective school-wide attendance improvement plan
    Light snacks, materials and give-aways will be provided.
    For more information or for any problems with registration, please contact Arezo Rahmani at arahmani@bcps.k12.md.us.  

    Spring Survey Administration (formerly known as the Climate Survey)

    Principals, please review the following information regarding the 2013 spring survey administration.

    On January 29-30, the Office of Achievement and Accountability held a School Survey training (formerly known as the Climate Survey) and Student Survey of Teacher Practice for test coordinators in elementary and middle grades. All information can be found in the attached Survey Instruction Packet. If coordinators missed the meeting or need additional information, they should attend a make-up session on Wednesday, February 13, from 3 to 3:30 p.m. at 200 East North Ave in the 1st floor Board Room.

    This session will also serve as an initial orientation for high school test coordinators. Please note, all test coordinators will be notified by e-mail. We understand test coordinators have many responsibilities during test administration; therefore schools can designate additional staff to assist in the survey administration if needed. We still ask that your test coordinator attend training and work closely with the additional staff during the survey administration to set up the schedule and logistics required for survey administration.

    The annual school survey opens for parents and staff on Thursday, February 21; paper surveys should also arrive by this date. The links below only apply to the School Survey for parents and should not be completed by staff or students. This year, parents will have the opportunity to complete their survey online at the links provided below. Please provide opportunities for parents to complete the survey either on paper on online while they are attending conferences or other school events.

    A separate link to the School Survey for staff will be sent to all school-based employees via email on February 21 and paper copies of the student survey will be shipped to your school in early March.

    FAFSA Completion Campaign: Status and Incentives

    High school staff, please encourage graduating seniors to complete the FAFSA by Friday, February 15, and help your school’s juniors win a visit to a university campus.

    The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the first step for graduating seniors in securing the financial package that will enable them to attend college next year. Because of the critical importance of the FAFSA for graduating seniors’ progress toward future success, City Schools has set a district-wide goal of ensuring that 100 percent of seniors complete the FAFSA by February 15, 2013.

    The district office is offering an incentive to encourage school-wide participation at all high schools in the FAFSA-completion campaign: Up to five schools will win a charter bus to take 11th graders on an April 2013 trip to visit the University of Maryland at College Park, St. Mary’s College of Maryland, McDaniel College or York College of Pennsylvania. To win, schools must be

    ·One of the first two schools to reach 100 percent FAFSA completion

    ·Among the three schools with the greatest increase in FAFSA completion over last year

    To see your school’s current FAFSA completion, please download this report (updated January 28, 2013); last year’s completion rates are available here. For purposes of this incentive program, 2013 completion rates will be calculated as of midnight on February 15.

    Mandatory District-wide Anti-discrimination Training

    Principals, please ensure that your staff completes the mandatory anti-discrimination training within 30 days of receiving notification.

    In order to support City Schools’ commitment to maintaining an environment that is free from harassment and discrimination, EEO and Title IX Compliance is launching districtwide anti-discrimination training. Employee notifications will be sent by email as early as Thursday, January 17. The training will be delivered via webinar, and all staff members are required to complete the one-hour online training program within a 30-day period after receiving their email notification. In addition to the one-hour training program, supervisors and managers will be required to complete a training supplement.

    Watch for an email from Workplace Answers, our training vendor. Please post this flyer throughout your school. If you have questions, please email EEOTraining@bcps.k12.md.us.

    Third Annual PreK@Play Day

    Principals of schools with pre-k programs, please register your pre-k classes for PreK@Play 2013 by Friday, February 15.

    Spring is just around the corner and Early Learning Programs is very excited to bring the third annual PreK@Play event! Last year, more than 4,800 of City Schools’ pre-k students took free trips around the city, visiting one of more than 50 Baltimore institutions, organizations and cultural landmarks that opened their doors to our youngest learners – all on the same day. Children learned through play, exploration and adventure—and gained background knowledge to build on back at school.

    This year’s PreK@Play festivities are scheduled for Thursday, April 25. The venues will provide free admission for students, staff and parents; schools are asked to contribute toward transportation expenses. All students who participate in PreK@Playwill receive an activity book and several other very special items to commemorate the day.

    Visit www.baltimorecityschools.org/prekatplay for more information and to revisit highlights from last year—and click the link for School Principals for a quick survey to register your students. Registration must be entered by Friday, February 15.

    2013-14 SY SMS Secondary Scheduling
    Principals, please register your primary scheduler for mandatory phase 1 SMS secondary scheduling.

    This year, secondary scheduling is broken down into two phases. Phase 1 is two days long and is comprised of a pedagogy portion where schedulers will learn how to perform the desired SMS tasks and practice their newly acquired skills in a simulated SMS environment. The second half of each day, the schedulers will actually be performing the desired SMS tasks in SMS production (i.e. real SMS planning calendar).

    Schools should send their primary scheduler to each workshop. Participants must register for the sessions on the Professional Growth System.

    Phase 1 Training Dates:

    • February 4-5
    • February 21-22
    • February 25-26

    Please register for each day. (i.e. Class 1 of 2 and Class 2 of 2)

    *Phase 1

    DAY 1

    DAY 2


    Course requests and saved lists training and practice.

    Training and practice building the schedule foundation. (term sets, meeting patterns, bell schedules, day patterns)


    Creating saved course requests and student lists in the SMS planning calendar.

    Building the SMS schedule foundation in the SMS planning calendar.

    *Schedulers should come to the Phase 1 sessions with the “General School Set-up Questions” form completed. Please click here to download a copy.

    If you have any questions regarding this City Schools technology alert, please contact the ITD Service Support Center at 2-3000 (443-642-3000 externally) or ITDsupport@bcps.k12.md.us.

    Winter Transportation Coordinator Training

    Principals, please register transportation coordinators for one of the February transportation coordinator trainings.

    The Office of Student Transportation has seen noteworthy improvement in the work done by our transportation coordinators since training intensified over the past year. In order to maintain the momentum, we are requesting that all schools with new transportation coordinators, register for one of the upcoming training dates.

    The Office of Student Transportation will facilitate training sessions for new transportation coordinators and coordinators that were trained prior to June 2012, on Tuesday, February 19, and Wednesday, February 20. All new coordinators should register for one of the training dates which will be held at the Office of Student

    Please note, principals should inform the Office of Student Transportation no more than 5 days after the school’s transportation coordinator changes. In preparation, please review the topics that will be covered prior to attending the session. Enrollment for training sessions is now available on the Professional Growth System; click here for the enrollment instructions. If you have any questions, contact Roberta Neal at 443-396-7440 or RNeal@bcps.k12.md.us.

    English Language Proficiency Assessments

    Principals, please review the following information regarding MSDE required WIDA assessments.

    The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) required WIDA assessments are being administered in Maryland until Tuesday, February 19, for all students identified as being English Language Learners. Your support for setting a secure testing environment during this time is appreciated. ESOL teachers may not be available to proctor other testing during this test window. ESOL class schedules will be impacted, since the speaking portion of the WIDA ACCESS assessment is individually administered.

    WIDA details:

    • Listening and Reading 75 minutes, tested in small groups.
    • Writing 60 minutes, tested in small groups
      *Kindergarten tests are also individually administered and may take up to 45 minutes per student.

    For more information, please contact Jill Basye-Featherston; or for WIDA standards and testing program descriptions visit, www.wida.us.

    Monthly Highly Qualified Reporting (February)

    Principals, please review the following information regarding Highly Qualified (HQ) staff compliance for the month of February.

    The federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law mandates that all teachers be highly qualified (HQ). Schools that receive funding under Title I are required to notify parents whenever their students are being taught by non HQ teachers and long-term substitutes for four or more consecutive weeks. Monthly reports of teachers and long-term substitutes flagged as non HQ will be posted to the Principal’s Dashboard. New instances of non HQ teachers for the month of February will be posted to your dashboard by Monday, January 28. Human Capital Specialists will support schools in monitoring highly qualified status and ensuring affected families are notified on time. Additional highly qualified resources are available via TSS.

    Letters to Parents Regarding Student Absences

    Principals please review the following information and notify the appropriate staff at your school.

    The Office of Attendance and Truancy has begun mailing letters to parents of students with 10 or more unlawful absences. The purpose of the letters is to notify parents about the number of student absences, to allow parents an opportunity to discuss and/or update the absences with school staff and to obtain resources to assist with improving the number of absences. Once parents receive the letters, we expect the number of phone calls and parent walk-ins both at the school and district office to increase. For further questions or information about this initiative please contact Belinda Conaway at Bconaway@bcps.k12.md.us in the Office of Attendance and Truancy.

    FY 2014 Budget: And What It Means For Schools

    Principals and school-based staff, please start your school budget planning this week.

    The planning for City Schools’ FY 2014 budget is well underway, and we can now share with you what we know about the big budget picture. And for schools that have not yet begun their own budget planning, the time to start is now.

    A picture of revenues and expenses is emerging. City Schools receives its revenues from three main sources: the state, the city and the federal government. Collectively, we expect these funding sources to be up slightly. At the same time, we anticipate that salaries and costs for fringe benefits will increase, and inflation will further drive up overall expenses.

    The district is committed to minimizing negative budgetary impact on schools and to funding schools first. Just as last year, City Schools’ first set of FY 2014 budget allocations will be to schools, after which it will fund the district office. Schools will receive their FY 2014 final enrollment numbers and revenue projections on Wednesday, February 13. At that time, they will also receive an Excel-based pre-planning tool that will allow them to build different budget scenarios. District budget guidance is also currently available in the Principals’ Budget Toolkit on City Schools Inside; combined, the guidance and pre-planning tool will allow you to explore your various budget options so that as the March 8 budget submission deadline approaches, you will be ready to load your final FY2014 budget into the official budget tool. The budget tool will be available Friday, February 15.

    The school budgets comprise a portion of the overall district budget that will go to the Board of School Commissioners for approval later this spring. It is important to note that nothing in the district budget—or individual school budgets—will be final until it is approved by the Board. This makes the planning work we are all doing now especially important, so that the process of moving the budget work toward finalization is as smooth as possible.

    Developing a school budget requires the community. Engaging your school community is a critical step in developing your school budget, and that work should start now. Principals, refer to the Principals’ Budget Toolkit immediately to find helpful information on how to engage your school communities in your budget process, and please work with your Family & Community Engagement Specialist to schedule your school’s Community Budget Forum this week.

    Please stay tuned to City Schools Inside for ongoing budget updates. If you have questions about the school budget process, please contact the Data or Human Capital specialist on your School Support Network.


    2013 MSA Administration Preparation

    Principals, please review the following information regarding 2013 MSA administration and plan to attend your schools staff training.

    The MSA testing window is March 5 through March 19. Principals are responsible for test integrity at their school and should ensure that plans and preparations for the 2013 MSA administration are in place. A well thought-out procedure helps to ensure that your school will have a successful test administration.

    An updated video message on test integrity from City School’s CEO Dr. Andrés Alonso will be available the week of February 18. Principals, please share this video with your staff prior to the start of testing. For additional information, refer to your 2013 Principals Resource Guide.

    Each school should maintain a copy of the signed Training Certification and/or the Non-Disclosure Forms on file for staff participating in your school’s test administration. Note, only certified teachers are permitted to serve as test examiners. Please contact the Office of Achievement and Accountability at 410-396-8962 or OAA-Assessment@bcps.k12.md.us.

    Teacher Evaluation Information Sessions
    All staff, please review the following information regarding the teacher evaluation information sessions.

    BTU and City Schools are hosting a series of information sessions on teacher evaluations throughout the month of February. All staff covered by the BTU contract are invited to attend the information sessions. Principals, please share the attached flyer with your teachers and remind them to attend. Teachers, please see attached flyer for dates and times of the information sessions. No advance registration is required.

    Annual School Survey: Make Your Voice Heard…and Make Your School Better

    All staff, please support and encourage all members of school communities—staff, students and parents—to complete the annual school survey.

    The window for completion of the annual school survey opens on Thursday, February 21. All full-time school-based staff, parents/guardians and students in grades 3 to 12 are asked to complete a survey, which includes questions related to school environment and climate for teaching and learning. Results from the survey are used by individual schools and the district to identify school strengths and areas of need, and can help in school performance planning and other areas for strategic decision making.

    But the results are only truly useful if they reflect the input of a majority of members of the school community. This year, we ask particularly that school-based staff not only complete their own surveys and assist in administering the survey to students in grades 3 to 12, but also that all staff encourage all parents to participate.

    Please watch for the following.

    • Parent surveys: Hard copies of the parent surveys will be delivered to schools on Tuesday, February 19, and Wednesday, February 20. Parents of all students, pre-k to grade 12, are asked to complete one survey for each school in which they have a student enrolled. Please ensure that a copy is sent home with every student no later than Thursday, February 21. The window for parents to complete the survey is February 21 to March 21. This year, parents can also take the survey online, at tinyurl.com/SchoolSurvey-English or tinyurl.com/SchoolSurvey-Spanish. Elementary and elementary/middle schools will also receive a reminder flyer for parents during the week of February 25, with a request that it be backpacked home with students.
    • Staff surveys: All full-time school-based staff will receive a link to the online survey in their City Schools email account on February 21. Please complete the survey by March 21.
    • Student surveys: Hard copies will be delivered to schools in early March for students in grades 3 to 12. (Pre-k to 2nd-grade students do not receive surveys, though their parents do.) Because of MSA testing and spring break, the window to administer the survey to students is March 8 to April 12.

    Thank you for your assistance in ensuring a strong response to this year’s survey.

    Letter Outlining Expectations for Students Traveling by MTA

    Principals and transportation coordinators, please ensure that all middle and high school students who use S-Passes receive a copy of the joint letter from City Schools and the MTA, outlining behavior expectations for students who use MTA to travel to and from school.

    More than 17,000 City Schools students use school-provided S-Passes for travel to and from school by MTA. While the majority of these students behave appropriately while using MTA services, there has been an increase in disruptive behavior in recent months. A letter from Dr. Alonso and MTA CEO Ralign Wells is being sent to schools by Tuesday, February 26, reminding students of the behavior expectations when using MTA services for transportation to and from school. Please ensure that all middle and high school students who receive monthly S-Passes also receive a copy of this letter. Download the MTA Code of Conduct here, in English or in Spanish.


    Dear City Schools Colleagues, Staff, Partners and Friends, 

    Yesterdaythe Maryland State Department of Education released four-year results for the2009 cohort of Maryland high school students. This is a snapshot of how thosestudents who entered high school in the 2008-09 school year fared four yearslater—how many graduated or remained enrolled in school, and how many droppedout. Since MSDE also releases five-year cohort graduation rates, and that isthe criterion used in the School Progress Index for schools under Maryland's NoChild Left Behind federal waiver, we will have to wait until fall to fullyunderstand the fruits of our efforts to graduate our 2009 cohort students underMaryland's accountability standards.

    Whatwe do know is that the results for Baltimore City Public Schools continue ourstory of progress: More students are staying in school and earning diplomas.Please read more here. These results are a testament to thehard work of our students, our schools and our communities, and the impact ofthis progress on the future of our city is incalculable. 

     Thankyou for being a part of it—and for helping every day to raise our expectationsfor our students and our schools.

    Andrés A. Alonso, Ed.D.

    CEO,Baltimore City Public Schools


    Dear City Schools Colleagues, Staff, Partners and Friends,


    Tonight, I share with you news about Baltimore City Public Schools’ work to create great school options for all students.


    We in City Schools are committed to maintaining and reviewing a portfolio of school options that meet our students’ wide-ranging interests and needs. The district’s many charter, transformation and other schools with external operators are one important way we honor that commitment. These schools not only expand the range and number of options available to our students and families, but help ensure that students have access to an education that supports their academic growth and prepares them for success in life after school. At their best, they provide opportunities for innovation, and test our standards of excellence.


    All our schools should be held to high standards. The review process for schools with external operators,  called renewal, considers academic performance, climate, and management and governance. Renewal occurs every three to five years, depending on each school’s contract or charter, and is an assessment of the school’s performance since its opening or previous renewal.


    In the last year we have partnered closely with operators, members of their school communities and education advocates to revise our renewal process to ensure that it is rigorous, as fair as possible and aligns closely with the evaluation work we are doing with our other, traditional schools.


    So we developed a new renewal process that uses multiple measures. And tonight, the New and Charter School Advisory Board made renewal recommendations—based on this new process—to the Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners for 25 operator-run schools. These recommendations span five- and three-year contract renewals, one-year contract extensions and the nonrenewal of contracts beyond their current term. Of the 25 recommendations, a solid majority was for renewal—9 were for five years, 7 were for three years and 3 were for one year—while 6 were for nonrenewal. In the case of the latter, if the Board approves the recommendations, the contracts with the operators will end at the end of current school year; two of the six schools will remain open and be operated by the district; and four of the schools will remain open, be operated by the district for one more year, and move toward closure in June 2014.


    The renewal process we have built together with our operators and their school communities is a significant improvement on our past process, and an important step in our work to ensure that all of our schools are pushing our students to their potential and beyond. It is never easy to deliver the news to a school community that its school is not hitting this mark, but it is a critical step if we are to ensure access to excellent teaching and learning for all of our students.


    For more information about the renewal process and this year’s renewal recommendations, please visit the renewal section of City Schools’ website. The Board will hold a public forum on all renewal recommendations on Wednesday, January 30, from 5 to 7:30 p.m. at City Schools’ district office (200 E. North Ave., Baltimore 21202). And at its regularly scheduled public meeting on Tuesday, February 12, it will vote on the renewal recommendations.


    Thank you for all that you do to support our students and our schools. With your partnership, we will continue our progress toward making sure all of our school programs provide the high-quality education our students need and deserve.


    Andrés A. Alonso, Ed.D.

    CEO, Baltimore City Public Schools


    Dear City Schools Colleagues, Staff, Partners and Friends,

    I wrote to you last month with the very good news that the Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners approved Baltimore City Public Schools’ plan to modernize all of its school buildings over the next 10 years. The plan represents a critical next step in the transformation of the district, and is now under consideration by the Maryland General Assembly.

    Today, I write to you, struck by the rarity of the moment we are in—right now.

    • Legislation has been introduced in both the House of Delegates and Senate that, if passed, would result in the state block grant we need to leverage significant additional dollars to fund the 10-year buildings plan and the creation of a third-party authority to oversee its implementation.
    • The Baltimore City delegation is tirelessly advocating for this critical body of work every day of the legislative session with their colleagues from around the state.
    • The importance of realizing the 10-year plan was a high point of Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s State of the City address last week, in which she boldly and rightly noted that to not conduct a wholesale modernization of City Schools’ buildings, “will only serve to fail our students—and that is unacceptable.”
    • The larger community has recognized the progress we have made in City Schools and is asserting that to continue this work by rebuilding our schools is essential to rebuilding our city. One recent op-ed in the Baltimore Sun stated:

    Baltimore has already taken many hard steps to improve its educational system … These steps and more show that our civic and private leaders are serious about creating great schools that will change the trajectory of inner-city youth while attracting the middle class families necessary to any city's success. Now the focus is on providing a physical environment in Baltimore schools comparable to that in schools across Maryland.”

    And this coming Monday, February 25 at 6 p.m., a projected 3,000 people from organizations across Baltimore and beyond will gather in Annapolis to urge lawmakers to pass the necessary legislation to implement City Schools’ 10-year plan. (For event details and transportation information, visit the Transform Baltimore and Baltimore Education Coalition websites.)

    This confluence of actions and support marks a rare moment for our students, our schools and our city. The eyes of the city and state are upon us—for the strides we have made in recent years, for the cause we are currently championing, for the promise that our kids represent for decades to come. In a way we have not seen before, Baltimore City and the state of Maryland are rallying around City Schools’ 85,000 students. And it is not a movement just about bricks, mortar and modern-day science labs. It is a movement that says in a whole new way that we believe in our young people and are committed to positioning them to succeed.

    While there is much discussion yet to be had on the logistics of implementing the 10-year plan, there is broad acknowledgement in all corners of Baltimore City and around the state that this is the right thing to do. And that is a tribute to you—our City Schools staff, families, partners and friends—and the dedication you have shown throughout the reforms of recent years and the contributions you continue to make every day.

    I ask that each of us recommit today to do our part to make sure our kids get the 21st-century school buildings they need and deserve. Please join me and others this Monday in Annapolis to urge our lawmakers to do right by City Schools’ 85,000 students.

    Thank you for all that you do.

    Andrés A. Alonso, Ed.D.
    CEO, Baltimore City Public Schools