Charles Co. Public Schools News Briefs - Southern Maryland Headline News

Charles Co. Public Schools News Briefs

Rebecca Olsen, a senior at Thomas Stone High School, was recently named a local honoree in the 2013 Kohl’s Care Scholarship Program for community service. She was one of 45 Maryland local honorees recognized and received a recognition certificate and $50 gift card to Kohl’s. Olsen is enrolled in the Project Lead the Way (PLTW) program at Stone and is a Maryland state registered EMT with the Hughesville Volunteer Fire Department. Last school year, Olsen participated in the Air Force STEM 2020 Challenge essay contest and in the Fighter Pilot for a Day program.

Joseph Perriello, a freshman at North Point High School, was recently named as a local honoree in the President’s Volunteer Service Award program. The award recognizes community service and is presented by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program. Perriello was honored for his work as a tutor with students in need of additional academic assistance at Berry Elementary School. As a student at Mattawoman, Perriello was president of the school’s National Junior Honor Society chapter and member of the student government association. This school year, he serves as the second vice-president of the Charles County Association of Student Councils (CCASC).

Kerri Loyd, an administrative assistant at Piccowaxen Middle School, was recently awarded the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Maryland Crystal Apple Award for excellence in education. Loyd also serves as a chorus teacher at Piccowaxen and was nominated for recognition by school staff. She will be honored at the 92nd Annual Maryland American Legion Auxiliary Convention in Ocean City later this month.

Board to hold executive session phone conference

The Board of Education is holding an executive session phone conference 11 a.m., Tuesday, July 23, at the Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building as permitted by the Maryland Open Meetings Act, Section 10-508(a) and Section 10-503(c) of the State Government Article to discuss: personnel matters, specifically the Superintendent's recommendations on certificated positions.

Board signs contracts with employee groups for next school year

The Board of Education and its two employee groups – the Education Association of Charles County (EACC) and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) – signed contracts Tuesday, June 11, for the 2013-14 school year.

The contracts include a one-step increase for eligible employees, but do not include a cost-of-living adjustment. Costs for health care insurance will not increase, but will be re-examined in January when the benefit period renews itself for the January through December calendar year. Any recommended changes will begin in January 2014.

Highlights from the EACC contract include:

-- All eligible employees will receive one step, and includes teachers, and administrative and supervisory staff.

-- Any employee not eligible for a step or is at the top of their pay scale will receive up to a $1,000 one-time payment by mid-November. Employees can also choose to put the one-time payment in a tax-deferred account.

-- Compression of the teacher salary scale will continue.

-- Rates on the extra duty pay scale increase by 2 percent.

-- A committee is planned to study administrative and supervisory scales in comparison to other counties and the current pay scale structure. Results will be forwarded to the Board of Education and the Superintendent of Schools.

Highlights from the AFSCME contract include:

-- All eligible employees will receive a one-step and grade increase.

-- Any employee who is at a step 16 and above will receive a one-time payment of up to $300 by mid-November. Only employees hired as of June 30, 2013 are eligible for the one-time payment. No support staff hired on or after July 1, 2013 is eligible.

-- A committee is planned to study certifications support employees can obtain to enhance their work skills above the requirements for their position, and will examine possible salary enhancements associated with the certification, if funding is available.

Keith Hettel, assistant superintendent of human resources, said the negotiations with both groups went smoothly. “Both negotiating teams were very fair and understood the constraints the Board of Education is under because of minimal funding. It was the Board’s objective not to fall further behind with employee steps and to make sure everyone received compensation, either one-time or permanent,” Hettel said.

The cost of a step increase is $4.4 million and covers both the EACC and AFSCME contracts. Also included is the two percent increase for extra-duty pay and scale compression for the EACC contract and the one-time payment for both employee groups.

Communications staff earns top school public relations awards

The Charles County Public Schools communications department recently received three top National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA) awards in the 2013 Publications and Electronic Media Contest.

A video produced by communications staff titled “Every 15 Minutes in Charles County Public Schools” received an Award of Excellence, which is the highest award given by NSPRA. The video was selected from among 135 entries, and was one of only 15 selected for the Award of Excellence. The video features the national Every 15 Minutes program held at Thomas Stone and Westlake high schools which teaches students about the dangers of driving under the influence and texting while driving.

Two additional video entries also received awards. A video titled “Strike up the Band” received an Award of Merit, which is the second highest award given in the contest. Out of 135 entries, 48 were selected for an Award of Merit. The video features performances from the Maurice J. McDonough High School Marching Band.

A video highlighting the Charles County Public Schools breakfast program titled “School Breakfast Program” also received an Honorable Mention award in the contest. The entry was one of 42 honorable mention awardees.

Each year, NSPRA sponsors a publications and electronic media contest. The videos were selected for awards from a total of 894 contest entries. Additionally, the department received three publication awards last fall through the Chesapeake Chapter of the National School Public Relations Association’s annual publications contest, covering Maryland, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and West Virginia.

These awards included an Award of Excellence in the newsletter category for School News, the school system's semimonthly staff newsletter; an Award of Merit for the 2011-12 Charles County Public Schools Parent Handbook/Calendar; and an Honorable Mention for a special events video featuring coverage of the Every 15 Minutes program at Stone.

The communications department is comprised of Katie O’Malley-Simpson, director of communications; Kyle Graves, video production specialist; Kara Gross, communications multimedia assistant; Shelley Mackey, communications specialist; and Gary Nagel, web developer.

For more information on NSPRA, visit

John Hanson MESA team earns third place national award

A team of Mathematics, Engineering and Science Achievement (MESA) students from John Hanson Middle School recently earned a third place overall award at the National MESA Engineering Challenge held last month. The national challenge featured the Prosthetic Arm event in which student teams worked together to create artificial limbs for use in different skill activities.

Team members Brett Blanford, Stephen Duranske, Shane Gregan and Megan Thomas received a third place overall award at the middle school level among competing teams. More than 72 middle- and high-school students were invited to compete at the national event, held June 21-23 in Portland, Oregon, after earning a first-place win at the state level.

Teams are judged in four components of the competition: performance, technical paper, academic display and oral presentation. Students were judged on performance using tasks such as distance accuracy relay, object relocation and design efficiency. Hanson’s team earned second place in the distance accuracy relay and device efficiency categories, and a third place award in the oral presentation category.

The team’s coaches are Diane Fisher, a science teacher at Hanson, and parent Matt Duranske. Each team member received several medals of recognition and a team trophy to represent their overall award at the event. Hanson’s team was the overall Maryland winner at the state competition held in May, and earned the first-place award at the regional tournament in April.

This is the second time in the past three school years that a Charles County Public Schools team has advanced to the national MESA event. In 2011, a team from La Plata High School competed in the national challenge, which featured the Wind Energy event.

The MESA program is designed to prepare students for academic and professional careers in mathematics, engineering, science, and technology. The program's goals are to increase the number of engineers, scientists, mathematicians, and related professionals at technical and management levels; and to serve as a driving force in encouraging and assisting minorities and females in achieving success in these fields.

For more information on the MESA program, visit

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