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Board reviews housing project neighboring SD Middle School

(July 19, 2013) Discussions over developing land neighboring Stephen Decatur Middle School took precedence at Tuesday’s meeting of the Worcester County Board of Education.

Blair Rinnier of Rinnier Development presented his plans with Attorney Mark Cropper to erect a complex on the property to “open the conversation up for comments (on) how we can be a good neighbor” to the school, he said.

His plans include building an apartment complex similar to his Marley Manor apartments in Salisbury and opening a national retail store on the property across Seahawk Road from the school.

Cropper and Rinnier have spent months meeting with “all of those persons that earlier expressed an interest in how this property would be developed,” Cropper said, addressing issues from a 2009 letter to a former developer about the same property. That includes curbing increases in traffic to the nearby residential area.

“There’s potential here,” Board Member Robert Hulburd said, thanking Rinnier for coming to the board early in the process.

Worcester County school staff also presented the results of almost 350 graduating seniors’ input about their schools and the county school system at the meeting.

Students were generally satisfied with their school’s teaching methods, programs, services and availability of classes and extracurricular activities, with no strong problem areas identified, the surveys showed.

More than 80 percent of students said they were satisfied with their classes and their ability to enroll in the classes they wanted. Slightly less said they were able to take part in all extracurricular activities they wanted, and around two-thirds said they were satisfied with the number and variety of courses at their schools.

Eighty percent of students surveyed planned to attend a university or special training school, and graduates accepted around $4.5 million in scholarships, grants and merit-based awards this year.

Overall, 80 percent of students gave their schools a “grade” of an A or B.

“This information is useful. It tells us we’re doing a good job for our students. They are, in fact, our customers,” Hulburd said.

The Common Core State Standards, a national set of benchmarks for K-12 students, surfaced again at the meeting, where a member of the public presented the board with a petition requesting the standards be removed from Worcester County and Maryland schools.

“Twenty-two citizens in the last 14 days requested that the Worcester County School Board hold informational seminars” on Common Core, he said. “I’m unaware of any informational sessions scheduled or taking place.”

The heat over Common Core follows the board’s recent request for around 260 laptops to be used for the electronic standardized tests that come with the new set of standards.

The next Worcester County Board of Education meeting will be Aug. 20 at 12:30 p.m. at Board of Education Office in Newark. Those wishing to comment for more than two minutes at the meeting should contact the superintendent’s office by Aug. 15 so their items can be included on the agenda.

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