Maryland State Department of Education

MSDE Bulletin

Keeping You Current on Education Reform in Maryland

August 4, 2000 Vol. 11, No. 10

Intervention Is a Budget Priority

The strategic academic plan "Every Child Achieving" heads the list of priorities of unfunded project requests in the preliminary Maryland State Department of Education FY 2002 budget that was presented to the State Board in July.

MSDE will be seeking $102.9 million for non-mandated projects, about two percent of the department's FY2002 budget. About 98 percent of the proposed $3.6 billion budget is mandated by law.

"We have identified 10 priorities we believe are working in tandem with Board priorities," said State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick.

At its August meeting, the Board will vote to determine whether it wants to maintain those priorities or substitute others. The requests decided upon will be forwarded to the Department of Budget and Management.

The bulk of the unfunded projects request-$92.5 million-is being sought to fully fund the "Every Child Achieving" plan the Board adopted last fall. That plan is targeted to give additional help to students at all levels who fall behind their peers academically. Full implementation of the plan would support the High School Assessments, which must be passed by students entering ninth grade in Fall 2003 to earn a high school diploma.

MSDE is seeking $38 million for academic intervention; $37 million to strengthen the professional workforce through programs including the recruitment and mentoring of teachers and principals; $8 million for the state's education accountability program; and $8 million for expansion of the Judith Hoyer Early Child Care programs. Another $712,000 is being directed toward programs addressing student behavior.

Funds also are being requested to expand information access to the public via the Internet; for correctional education; to enhance services of the Department of Rehabilitation Services; for fine arts; and to fund a full-time assistant executive director position for the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association (which oversees competitive high school athletic programs).

The Board additionally asked Dr. Grasmick to prepare estimates on the cost of having a mentor assigned to every inexperienced teacher in the state.

Teachers Talk Tech At Annual Academy

More than 100 Maryland educators, primarily teachers and school library media specialists, headed back to class - as students - for a three-week long leadership institute that began July 24.

Participants (called "fellows") representing 22 school systems throughout the state chose to spend part of their vacation at the second Maryland Technology Academy Summer Leadership Institute. The academy offers an opportunity to learn effective use of technology in instruction. Graduates become technology leaders at their schools.

"It is not enough simply to put computers in our schools, even at the rapid rate we are progressing," said State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick. "The students sitting in front of the computers must receive the highest level of instruction available. The academy is an important factor in ensuring that graduates from our school systems are prepared for the technological world that awaits them."

Institute instructors are drawn from Towson University, Johns Hopkins University, the Maryland State Department of Education and local school systems.

The institute is a collaborative effort among MSDE, Johns Hopkins University Center for Technology in Education and Towson University College of Education. It was established by the General Assembly with state funds and a federal Technology Innovation Challenge Grant.

Fellows attend five follow-up sessions during the school year to report on progress in integrating technology into instruction.

Unfunded Budget Priorities
Every Child Achieving

* Improved instructional capacity: intervention and gifted and talented initiatives ($38.5 million)
* Education accountability program ($8.1 million)
* Strengthen professional workforce ($37.3 million)
* Judith P. Hoyer Early Child Care and Education Enhancement Program ($8 million)
* Student support: behavioral intervention ($712,000)

Other Requests
* Electronic government projects ($4.6 million)
* Correctional education enhancement ($2.6 million)
* DORS enhanced capacity ($1.8 million)
* Fine arts (1.3 million)
* MPSSAA assistant executive director ($58,000)

Sondheim, 92, Again President
State Board Re-Elects Benzil as Vice President

The Maryland State Board of Education turned to one of the most prominent names in the history of state education at its July 25 meeting by electing Walter Sondheim Jr. board president. It was a surprising move, especially to Sondheim, who was celebrating his 92nd birthday on the day of the meeting.

Philip S. Benzil, who has served as vice president since February, was re-elected to that office by unanimous vote.

Sondheim has indicated he accepted the post on a temporary basis because board members were deadlocked in selecting a president. He said he will step aside when the board is prepared to settle the issue.

A decade ago, Sondheim headed the commission that began school reform in Maryland. He had voluntarily stepped down as board president on February 1, but remained on the board. He was re-elected to the position by unanimous vote.

Sondheim replaces the person who took his place as president, Edward Andrews, whose second four-year term on the board expired on June 30. State law requires new officers to be elected annually in July.

The July board meeting was the first meeting for new board members Walter S. Levin, an attorney from Randallstown, and Aaron Merki, a rising senior at McDonough High School in Waldorf. Levin replaced Andrews. Merki is the new student member, serving a one-year term.

Sondheim has chaired or served on numerous boards and commissions, advising governors and mayors for decades.

Benzil is a retired dentist from Westminster. He has been a lifelong community and political activist.

Teacher Incentives On MSDE Website

Maryland has actively worked over the past two years to provide incentives to attract new teachers to its 24 local school systems and to retain the services of outstanding veteran teachers. The State Department of Education is intent on making sure all educators have easy access to these varied programs.

Numerous key pieces of legislation affecting educators personally and professionally were passed by the General Assembly in its 1999 and 2000 sessions.

A comprehensive list of these incentives, and instructions to obtain more detailed information, are now available on the Maryland State Department of Education website at

McDonald's Makes MSDE Smile

Intent on reaching Maryland families in every innovative means possible, the State Department of Education announced in July a new partnership with McDonald's Family Restaurants of Baltimore City and the Eastern Shore.

More than three years ago, Maryland became the first state to join the U.S. Department of Education's "Partnership for Family Involvement." The first-ever McDonald's Family Friendly Schools Grant will enhance that effort by targeting middle school students and their families through creative approaches. This may involve putting information on trayliners in area restaurants or teaming with other McDonald's communications venues.

"We are very excited about this," said Maryland State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick. "We believe McDonald's is a place families gather around the state."

U.S. Department of Education Assistant Secretary Mario Merino, speaking before the State Board of Education, praised the partnership and the efforts of MSDE's Darla Strouse in helping it get established.

"Thirty years of research has shown us that when families get involved, students do better," he said. "They stay in school and they go on to higher education."

MSDE: New Division, New Employees

The Department of Education added 31 new employees between April and June, including two assistant state superintendents. MSDE also has a new division.

Tina Bjarekull is the new Assistant State Superintendent for Business Services, replacing Tom Lee. Responsible for the department's financial and administrative programs, she came to MSDE from the Maryland Higher Education Commission.

Mary Cary was named Assistant State Superintendent for the new Division of Professional Development. The former principal of the Carver Center for Arts and Technology High School will head a division that will work with local schools systems in strengthening the workforce of principals and teachers around the state.

MSDE Bulletin
School & Community Outreach Office
Maryland State Department of Education
200 W. Baltimore Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
Web site:

Ronald Peiffer
Assistant State Superintendent

Neil Greenberger