Montgomery Blair High School
PTSA Meeting january 21, 2003
In the absence of Co-President Marilyn Shoenfeld, who was ill, Diane Foley called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m. in the SAC.
Because of various concerns expressed recently on the listserv, this meeting was specifically dedicated to address those concerns. Mr. Gainous and Ms. Wanner were present to answer questions.
Freak Dancing Issue: A letter has been drafted and is undergoing review by the Administration, SGA, and PTSA. The letter will be sent to all parents and it will state that freak dancing is prohibited at school dances and it will also address the issue of appropriate attire. The next dance is scheduled for February 14. Mr. Short, a physical education teacher, is the sponsor. When students purchase tickets to the Feb. 14 dance, they will be given a flier which specifically states that freak dancing is prohibited and by purchasing a ticket to the dance, the student agrees to abide by those rules.
With regard to freak dancing, the following suggestions were made:
· There is a need for more chaperones and those chaperones need to be given the authority to instill the rules.
· Freak dancing needs to be addressed in Health Class, which is a required course for all high school students – there is enough flexibility in the course curriculum to address this issue and self respect.
· The music selection at dances needs to be addressed. The SGA stated that they hire the disc jockey and the disc jockey is given a list of music to play. However, the majority of disc jockeys are self-promoting individuals and will play their own selection in order to get hired for other parties/dances. Because freak dancing is an issue at all high schools, it was suggested that when a disc jockey does not follow the music selection proposed by the SGA, that the disc jockey be “banned” and that the “Ban The Disc Jockey List” be circulated among all high schools. Another suggestion was to incorporate the selection of music into the contract between the disc jockey and the SGA. If the disc jockey does not abide by the music selection, he/she is in breach of contract and therefore won’t get paid.
· The letter that will be sent to all parents needs to be included in the Newsletter, the website, Silver Chips, etc., so that everyone will be aware of the rules.
Student to counselor ratio is too high and many students are not getting the proper assistance and in some instances calls are not being returned on a timely basis. Mr. Gainous stated that the University of Maryland is infusing Blair’s Guidance Department with about 20 interns from both the University’s undergraduate and graduate programs. The interns will be available throughout the summer and the school year to alleviate some of the overload.
The Cap and Magnet students have special evenings when alumni return to Blair to tell about their experiences in college, etc. Why isn’t there a similar program for the non-Cap/non-Magnet students? It would be beneficial for the “regular” students and their parents to have an evening program to hear about the experiences of the non-Cap/non-Magnet alumni regarding their college choices, experience, etc.
How is Blair doing in regard to the “no child left behind” issue? Mr. Gainous stated that Blair is making progress, but that they are not where they would like to be. When the number are combined, Blair is doing well. However, when desegregated, the numbers are not so good. He stated that the issue of unsuccessful 9th graders is improving. He also mentioned that Ms. Wanner had created a “senior watch” list which consisted of students in danger of not graduating. She met with these students daily and basically harassed them to the point where many of them began to attend classes regularly and their GPA’s improved.
Are teachers held accountable and how? Mr. Gainous stated that teachers are attending training classes and that as soon as the first red flags go up, teachers are being looked at to address teaching concerns. If the students are not learning, it is up to the teacher to find a way to help them learn. There are also surveys which parents fill out and although specific teacher concerns are not addressed in the surveys, parents may comment on each department. When a particular department receives too many negative comments, it’s time for corrective action. An example of this is Blair’s Guidance Department. Last year the survey responses indicated that the Guidance Department had major issues and changes were made.
The issue of too many new concepts being introduced on “review” day prior to finals was addressed. One of the problems this year was the number of snow days. There has to be a way to exclude questions on the tests for material that has not been covered in the class. Too many students were asked to learn the material on their own because there wasn’t sufficient class time. Mr. Gainous stated that the County makes the rules and the schools have no control. Parents need to start calling and emailing School Board members in order to change the test policy.
Base Area Report:
Sally Taber reported on Base Area issues. All the elementary schools have representation. Meeting are ongoing (dates are posted on the listserv) and everyone is invited to attend. One of the goals is to aim for “under-capacity” at each of the high schools affected. Blair and Einstein are overcrowded and a lot of support is needed to move students from these two schools to Northwood (which will re-open in Fall 2004). It was suggested that students need to be ambassadors and preach about their experience in moving from their “home school” to a “choice school.”
Counseling Advisory Committee:
Carol Linderman reported that a meeting for 11th grade parents will be held in early April and that the Guidance Department Head will be at that meeting. Additionally, the Advisory Committee meets one Friday a month in the morning and everyone is invited to attend.
Mr. Gainous thanked everyone for attending the PTSA meeting. He said that he and Ms. Wanner took down a lot of notes regarding all of the concerns expressed, and they are looking forward to working with everyone for a positive resolution.
The next PTSA meeting will be on Tuesday, February 18, 2003.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:40 p.m.