Baltimore County Board of Education
United States of America

We are writing to you on behalf of numerous concerned parents whose children attend eight different Elementary Schools in Baltimore County, Maryland. Just a few weeks ago, our parents became aware of a change in Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS) policy which negatively impacts almost every aspect of our children’s education.

In short, the Baltimore County Board of Education has arbitrarily decided that elementary schools with fewer than 350 children will no longer be staffed with an Assistant Principal (“AP”). Some schools are currently projected to have 348 students next year, or other numbers just under 350 and so we have been advised that our school will not have an Assistant Principal starting the school year 2015-2016.

Eight elementary schools in this county will be affected by the Board’s new policy. We are being told that the Baltimore County Board of Education plans to ‘replace’ the AP position with one .5 (1/2 time) special education “Facilitator.” The Facilitator will be responsible for assuming the AP’s duties as they pertain to children who have Individual Education Plans (“IEP’s”), and the Facilitator’s salary will be paid through a special grant - not out of Baltimore County’s budget. Who will cover the remaining duties and responsibilities of the Assistant Principal? Baltimore County’s answer to this issue to is train and reassign the job duties of teachers and other staff members over the summer to ‘cover’ the remaining AP duties. We fervently believe that this plan is destined to fail and will leave our school in an alarmingly vulnerable state; jeopardizing the safety of our children and negatively impacting the quality of their education. We cannot expect already overwhelmed teachers and school staff to pick up these responsibilities. With everything that is changing in the school systems and curriculum, it would be a terrible decision to require even more from them.

Why can’t the .5 facilitators be sent to the schools that need assistance? Why can’t they create other positions to be funded under this grant to help these schools? What research was done that backs up this decision? There are many unanswered questions and uncertainties’.

It is of particular importance to note that our schools were not advised of this new policy until well after the Board of Education held its scheduled “open forum” meeting. In fact, despite the fact that this policy decision was made by the Board approximately 5-6 months ago, our school community was only notified of it the first week of February - just ONE DAY prior to the scheduled Board of Education meeting. This short notice left not only our community, but other affected school communities, with absolutely no time or opportunity to process the consequences of this policy change, let alone prepare statements and voice our concerns to Board members at the scheduled meeting. This insufficient notice and apparent intentional lack of transparency on the part of BCPS is alarming, disappointing, and frustrating. They have not lived up to their philosophy of transparency.

Every school should have two administrators- a Principal and an Assistant Principal. They are the two most critical roles in the school system and the quality of our children’s education is at risk here. No school should have to operate without an Assistant Principal.

Baltimore County needs to be investing in the future of our children – not cutting costs by eliminating essential staff. Our schools have made many sacrifices as a result of Baltimore County budgetary restrictions, but this new policy is one that we cannot accept – the stakes are too high. As parents, community members, school members and educational leaders, we feel betrayed, pushed aside and disregarded. This decision should not have been made in secret, without more careful consideration of the ramifications or the input of the community, schools affected and parents.

We, the undersigned, call on the Baltimore County Board of Education to acknowledge our concerns and reverse their decision to eliminate the Assistant Principal position from county elementary schools that have a projected enrollment of fewer than 350 students. We believe that EVERY school should have TWO FULL TIME administrators.

Our community believes in a public school education, but we also have an expectation that decisions affecting the safety and quality of our children’s education involve some discussion and input from the people most affected – US!

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The Save our Assistant Principals! petition to Baltimore County Board of Education was written by Bedford Elementary PTA and is in the category Education at GoPetition.