Garrett Community College among those receiving state grant funding

From WCBC Radio

The Hogan administration today announced the Board of Public Works approval of seven capital grants agreements, totaling over $18.1 million, dedicated to essential capital projects at five higher educational organizations. The grants are administered through the Maryland Department of General Services Capital Grants Division. The Board of Public Works is comprised of Governor Larry Hogan, Comptroller Peter Franchot, and Treasurer Nancy Kopp.

“Our administration recognizes the critical role of higher education in Maryland’s economy and our citizens’ quality of life,” said Governor Hogan. “These grants will help complete vital capital projects in every region of the state, leading to increased visibility and furthering their institutional goals.”

Five Maryland higher education institutions whose missions inspire and encourage conservation, learning, and performance through community engagement were approved by the Board: the Community College of Baltimore County, Essex Campus and Catonsville Campus; the College of Southern Maryland, Indian Head, Md.; Howard Community College, Columbia, Md.; Frederick Community College, Frederick, Md.; and Garrett College, McHenry, Md.


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Garrett County schools perform well on new state report card

From The Garrett County Republican

OAKLAND — The Maryland State Department of Education released a new accountability report card for every school in the state of Maryland last week, designed to measure the success of schools and identify areas for improvement.

The report card was developed in response to the requirements of the Every Student Succeeds Act, a federal law that seeks to ensure public schools provide a quality education for all children.

The Maryland Report Card is designed to measure school success in several ways, including state tests in English language arts and math; postsecondary readiness; progress of English learners in achieving English language proficiency; graduation rate; and students with access to and earning credit for a well-rounded curriculum.

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Teachers struggling to implement changes, survey shows

By Liz Bowie, The Baltimore Sun7:34 p.m. EST, November 13, 2013

Schools from Ocean City to Garrett County are struggling to put in place two major shifts in education policy this year, with teachers working longer hours and sometimes feeling overwhelmed, according to a survey released Wednesday by the state teachers union.

In the teacher survey, 87 percent of the respondents said there are still challenges in their schools to understand and implement the more rigorous common core standards, and just one in three said they were adequately prepared to do the work.

“I think it confirms what we have been trying to say. There is a lot of education reform coming at teachers and principals at one time,” said Cheryl Bost, vice president of the Maryland State Education Association.

The teachers union supports the new common core as well as the new evaluation system, which judges teachers on student progress, but says the state needs more time to implement them well.

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Education officials talk upcoming challenges

Superintendents of Garrett, Allegany provide update on Common Core assessments

Greg LarryCumberland Times-News

CUMBERLAND — David Cox and Janet Wilson, the school superintendents for Allegany and Garrett County, respectively, along with Garrett College President Richard MacLennan, gave an update on the challenges currently facing education at a meeting Thursday of The Greater Cumberland Committee.

“We are moving toward having assessments that increase the demand of our kids cognitive skills. It’s been long overdue,” said Wilson, during the luncheon at the Cumberland Country Club.

Wilson and Cox gave a joint talk on the new curriculum and testing assessments being implemented in Maryland’s public schools known as Common Core, which is being phased in with the goal of the new system replacing traditional assessments by 2015.

For years, Maryland students were assessed by two tests: Elementary and middle school students took the Maryland Standard Assessment and grades 9 through 12 were given the High School Assessments.

Before Wilson and Cox spoke on the Common Core, MacLennan gave committee members in attendance an overview of the challenges facing education today.

MacLennan said the demand for workers with some level of higher education is continuing to rise.

“About two thirds of all employment will require some college education,” he said.

An estimated 81 million Baby Boomers will leave the job market, according to MacLennan, in the next 18 to 20 years, creating a high demand for educated workers.

“There is a sense of urgency here,” said MacLennan.

He also spoke on the skyrocketing student loan debt.

“Last year, student loan debt surpassed credit card debt nationally. It is closing on $1.12 trillion now. It increases by $2,853 every minute,” said MacLennan.

MacLennan stressed the need to close the gap between employer needs and workplace readiness through education.

“We are 16th in the world in our graduation rate. Today, 13 million attend a community college while only 25 percent will earn an associate degree within four years,” he said.

MacLennan also said that early college access during high school is critical.

“We know that those who get some college-level exposure while in high school will do better in college and are more likely to graduate,” he said.

Following MacLennan’s presentation, Cox and Wilson explained the Common Core assesment for K-12 students, known as the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers.

Wilson and Cox both think that Common Core can add to the quality of Maryland’s public education standards.

The educators pointed out that Maryland has ranked number one in the U.S., based on six levels of criteria, by the trade publication Education Week, for the last five years.

“The old testing was basically multiple choice questions with the students regurgitating the content,” said Cox.

The educators said the new PARCC testing will stress analytical, abstract and quantitative reasoning.

The tests will stress the coordination between math and science and language arts by requiring the student to defend or argue their answers using their technical language.

“The students will use computers and utilize models as well,” said Wilson.

Wilson described moving from the traditional MSA and HSA testing method to PARCC as “going from the rural dirt road to the highway.”

The educators said the Common Core has been vetted by business, researchers and education.

“This is the most monumental change I have seen in 33 years in education,” said Cox.

Greg Larry can be contacted at

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Local Residents Testify

Mar. 8, 2012

Garrett County residents were among those who testified this week in Annapolis before the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee of the Maryland Senate. At issue were 20 different bills that have to do with the drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus shale layer in western Maryland.

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Among those who testified were members of the local advocacy group CitizenShale, business owners, and private citizens. Pictured at the table above, from left, are CitizenShale members Eric Robison of Garrett County, Jacquelyn Sams of Allegany County, and Nadine Grabania and Paul Roberts, both of Garrett County. The various pieces of legislation cover issues of property leasing, potential damages, disclosure issues, and taxation of drilling companies.

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Hearing scheduled on measure that would cap education cuts

Local legislators voice support

Matthew Bieniek Cumberland Times-News

CUMBERLAND — A committee hearing is scheduled Wednesday on a bill sponsored by Sen. George Edwards to cap K-12 education cuts by more than 5 percent in Maryland counties.

The hearing is scheduled at 1 p.m. in front of the Budget and Taxation Committee. Edwards is a member of the committee and the sponsor of Senate Bill 586.

Allegany County Commissioner Bill Valentine is scheduled to testify in favor of the bill, staff at Edward’s office said. The bill is also filed as House Bill 660 and is sponsored by Delegates Wendell Beitzel, LeRoy Myers Jr. and Kevin Kelly.

Gov. Martin O’Malley’s fiscal 2013 budget includes a 5.5 percent cut in funding for Allegany County and an 11.8 percent cut in funding for Garrett County. This is on top of a 6 percent cut these two jurisdictions took in funding during the fiscal 2012 budget.

The bill would effectively limit the cuts per year to 5 percent through 2015. The cuts are the largest faced by any of the school systems in the state. Allegany County is the poorest county in the state, with a median income of around $37,747.

“The state really needs to look at how the wealth formula is computed. This bill would be a benefit to Garrett and Allegany counties and potentially others if we can get it passed. It would also give the state time to study how we compute wealth for K-12 education and look at appropriate various changes to the formula,” said Edwards.

The wealth formula uses a calculation based on a number of financial factors some legislators believe results in a skewed appraisal of the financial condition of some counties and their ability to fund local schools.

The calculation is used to determine how much state aid goes to county school systems in Maryland.

“The futures of the children of Garrett and Allegany counties are being jeopardized due to massive losses in state funding for education,” said Beitzel in a news release.

Edwards and Beitzel had to fight the same battle last year. The two managed to convince their colleagues to add in extra funding for the two counties in the 2011 session.

Because of the budget cuts, the Garrett County Board of Education is examining the possible closure of up to three elementary schools.

“The citizens from these areas have made it clear that these schools are at the heart of the community and closing them would cause irreparable harm for the students and their families,” Beitzel said.

Contact Matthew Bieniek at

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Counties favor bill to help education

CUMBERLAND — Both the Allegany County commissioners and the Maryland Association of Counties have voiced their support for a proposed bill that would limit any decrease in state funding for public school systems to 5 percent in any one year.
The commissioners wrote a letter to Delegate Sheila Hixon, chairwoman of the House of Delegates Ways and Means Committee, in support of House Bill 660.
MACo voted to support both HB 660 and companion Senate Bill 586, according to Garrett County Commissioner Gregan Crawford, who is a member of the MACo Board of Directors and Legislative Committee.
The legislation was introduced by Sen. George Edwards and cross-filed in the House by Delegates Wendell Beitzel, Kevin Kelly and LeRoy Myers, Crawford said. Approval would equate to additional funding of about $1 million for the Garrett County school system, according to Crawford.

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Funding ‘critical’ for education

Elaine Blaisdell Cumberland Times-News

OAKLAND — Sen. George Edwards and Delegate Wendell Beitzel are currently proposing a bill — Senate Bill 586 — that will cap losses of state funding to any school district to a 5.5 percent limit, said James Raley, Garrett County commission chairman, during Tuesday’s meeting. Raley said commissioners supported the bill and encouraged residents to do the same, stating that, “education funding is critical.”
“Any action on the part of the board of commissioners as the funding source is not intended to usurp their difficult decisions,” said a public statement, read by Commissioner Gregan Crawford, during the meeting.
The county has committed to funding education said Raley, adding that last year the county gave an extra $1.7 million towards education.
“We stand to say that we are willing to give some additional funding this year even though we are going to have to look long and hard as to where we are going to find that funding. Because there is not a new Wind Turbine project, there is not a Marcellus Shale Gas extraction severance tax, there is not any real new revenue that is coming to the county,” said Raley.
The commissioners vowed that the county will emerge from this financial crisis and asked the community to keep faith.
“We ask that we remain respectful of one another as we continue to work through this evolving process,” said the public statement.
In fiscal year 2012, the Garrett County Board of Education funding level was reduced by the state by $1.5 million, according to the public statement. Until last year, the state was required to fund education at the same level as the previous year, according to Raley.
“Garrett County government has been experiencing a financial shortfall status and there are numerous challenges to secure funding for the provision of all public services for the residents, property owners, and visitors to Garrett County without operating with a structural deficit,” said the public statement.
In order to fix the financial situation that the Garett County Public School system is facing, Sue Waggoner, interim superintendent, developed a five-year plan that reduces the budget $3 million by eliminating programs, reducing budgets and positions, providing retirement incentives, reconfiguring fifth graders into middle school and by closing Dennett Road, Kitzmiller and Friendsville elementary schools.
The commissioners encouraged the board to review the retirement incentives and allow for the reduction of staff numbers without eliminating the jobs of new employees. The commissioners also encouraged the board to work with them to identify areas of overlapping services and practices.
“We have deliberated and identified the fact that public education is not only our number one fiscal priority, but also a notable objective of our future economic development vision. The downturn in the economy, reductions in state-level school funding require that all parties cannot continue to operate under the same paradigm. The new paradigm insists that we must not only do more with less, we must do better with less.”
To read the commission’s public statement in its entirety, visit
Contact Elaine Blaisdell at

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Buying or selling real estate in Garrett County or Deep Creek Lake, Maryland? Call Jay Ferguson of Railey Realty for all of your real estate needs! I take great pride in referrals, and I assure you, I will take great care of your friends, family & colleagues!

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