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It’s always been my goal to keep you updated on what is going on in Carroll County as well as important legislative information. This update contains a traffic alert, Baltimore City charity information, community budget presentation information, and a synopsis and review of two important Session bills.

Traffic Alerts:

On Saturday, May 2, 2015, between 6:30 am and 4:00 pm the American Diabetes Association will be sponsoring the Tour de Cure cycling ride in the Carroll County area on the following roadways: Griffith Road, Bennett Bridge Road, MD 144, Penn Shop Road and Long Corner Road.

These roadways will be utilized for the event but will remain open to traffic, however motorists should use caution and be aware of cyclists. Motorists are asked to use alternate routes to avoid delays. The American Diabetes Association would like to thank motorists for their patience and cooperation.

Maryland Unites – Baltimore Riots Clean-up and Donation Information:

With the tragic events going on in Baltimore City last weekend and this week, Governor Hogan has launched an administration website to be a one-stop-shop for all information on how to contribute to the victims impacted by the Baltimore City riots. The Maryland Unites website contains information on how to volunteer, links to organizations taking donations, and a link to the Baltimore Police to report new crimes related to the events in the city. If you would like more information you can visit Maryland Unites here.

Community Budget Presentations:

A series of local meetings will be held at branches of the Carroll County Public Library, as well as a final public hearing to gain feedback from residents and business owners in Carroll about the proposed Carroll County budget. All meetings will take place at 7:00pm

Monday, May 4, Eldersburg branch, 6400 Hemlock Dr., Eldersburg
Tuesday, May 5, Westminster branch, 50 E. Main St., Westminster
Thursday May 7, Budget Public Hearing, Carroll Community College, 1601 Washington Rd., Westminster

2015 Session in Review:

With the 2015 Session now behind us I wanted to highlight some other bills that I did not have an opportunity to weigh in on in my 2015 Session in Review letter. This week I wanted to let you know about SB 595 and SB 497, both bills relating to Education.

SB 595 – Public Charter School Improvement Act of 2015 – Voted Yes:

SB 595 will allow charter schools that have been in existence for at least five years and have demonstrated a history of sound fiscal management and student achievement to work out an arrangement with the public chartering authority to operate with greater flexibility with regards to school-wide assessment criteria. The law will repeal the current MSDE role as a primary or secondary public chartering authority and makes the county board of education the sole arbiter. The law will also give public charter schools greater weight to a student in the admissions lottery if they are eligible for free or reduced priced meals, have a disability, limited English proficiency, are homeless, or have siblings already enrolled.

I voted in favor of this bill on the floor for a couple of reasons. First it will give the chartering authority to the county board of education which can deviate from what Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) ultimately decides for public schools. The law also will give public charter schools greater potential to give children of all backgrounds a level playing field.

SB 497 – Commission to Review Maryland’s Use of Assessments and Testing in Public Schools – Voted Yes:

This legislation establishes a commission to review the use of Common Core and other standardized student assessment tools in public schools. The law will require that MSDE survey how much time is spent in each grade and in each local school system administering mandated assessments. It also requires that the Commission report back to MSDE each local board of education, and the General Assembly regarding its findings and recommendations by July 1, 2016.

I voted in favor of SB 497. Not only do I oppose Common Core but, as I’ve shared in the past, I’m also extremely concerned about PARCC and other year round assessments our students are undergoing. There is too much testing and it takes away from crucial classroom instruction time. In the past session I tried to get an opt-out for students taking the PARCC test but was unsuccessful. Those efforts continue, but having a commission looking at all testing is at least a start.

I am delighted to explain these bills in further detail. If you have any questions, I’d be glad to correspond with you directly.

I always appreciate your interest and feedback on my updates. I hope this information is useful to you. Please contact me at (410) 841-3683 or Justin.Ready@senate.state.md.us with any questions or concerns that you have. Have a Happy May Day.

Sincerely,

Sen. Justin Ready