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County Students Grill Superintendent at Town Hall

Approximately 60 students attended the inaugural student town hall, which took place at Chesapeake High School in Essex.

School infrastructure, academic options and nutritious meals are some of the issues on the minds of Baltimore County Public Schools students, Superintendent Dallas Dance learned Wednesday.

Dance hosted the first of two Student Town Halls scheduled for the 2012-2013 school year during the lunch hour at Chesapeake High School in Essex. The second one is scheduled for spring 2013.

"The good thing was [the students] were asking a lot of the same questions we've been hearing from around the community," Dance said following the meeting. "It shows we're all on the same page."

Approximately 60 students from Chesapeake, Dundalk, Eastern Technical, Kenwood, Loch Raven, Overlea, Parkville, Patapsco, Perry Hall, Crossroads Center, Rosedale Center, Sparrows Point and Towson high schools were chosen by their principals to participate in the inaugural town hall. Additionally, Dance took questions from county students not in attendance via Twitter.

Jada Powell, an Overlea High School senior, asked the superintendent to share his thoughts on expanding the Advancement Via Individual Determination program. Dance responded that there are elements of the college readiness system, such as increased tutoring options, that can benefit all students.

"[Dance] was very nice," Powell said. "He answered questions thoroughly to help us understand it. Hopefully whatever he said, he's going to make happen."

Kacie Malloy, a senior at Patapsco High & Center For Arts in Dundalk, intended to ask Dance about magnet school programs, but wasn't able to ask her question as a result of time constraints. Malloy said she still appreciated the opportunity to hear from the superintendent.

"He definitely seems a lot more involved than we're used to—which is good," she said.

Dance shared Malloy's regret about the limited hour. He invited the students to email him with additional questions.

"It should have been longer," he said. "Maybe two hours."

Mari December 06, 2012 at 06:44 PM
I'm curious - did any of them ask him why he's screwing around with their graduation dates, which were planned months ago and might now have to be changed so they can held at one location one after another just so he can attend all of them? Forget the convenience of the students and families; it's apparently all about him.
Robert Frisch December 06, 2012 at 07:57 PM
If true, that would be inappropriate.
Tim December 06, 2012 at 08:02 PM
You sound like the same person who'd turn around and bitch that he wasn't at your kids graduation.
RARE MARYLAND INDEPENDENT December 07, 2012 at 12:51 AM
Dallas "keep on Dancin" Dance understands it is always about the next job. Therefore, one must impress the regime. In order to do so, must implement the liberal movin on up plan: Step 1 - Opening Salvo - "We must do a better job teaching minorities." Still waiting for the answer to that question. Step 2 - Use the "coolest" innovative tools - Hey, I am on Twitter. Control the questions in the Town Hall meetings and bloviate as needed. Step 3 and 4 (both accomplised here) - Be seen - It is all about the image baby. Appear at all high school graduations and speak as a great leader. Impress the folks - hey, this guy is everwhere. Step 4 - centralize and control as much as possible - high school graduations a good start. How did the schools manage to do it before him? What a great leader! If he accomplishes this - things will go well - for him of course. Kids will still be uneducated. But Dallas will catch the attention of the regime - regardless of results. Dancin all the way to the big money!!
JD1 December 07, 2012 at 02:57 AM
RMI - it's sad but true. Meanwhile, kids are still afraid to attend our jam packed local high school. The system is about to implement a new teacher evaluation system that is doomed to fail. Central offices are a mess and teachers are struggling everywhere. He kind of reminds me of someone else who holds a high office...
Mari December 07, 2012 at 02:32 PM
Tim, WHAT in my comment would lead you to believe that would complain if he isn't there? Au contraire, I would NEVER complain about not having to hear another higher-up bureaucrat speaking. Trust me on this! Robert, Catonsville students and parents have been told that this year's graduation plan is on hold because central office is trying to take over the planning for all graduations for all high schools because Dr. Dance wants to attend them all. RMI hit the nail on the head with his comments.
Tim December 07, 2012 at 05:16 PM
Mari: Simply because in my view, this is nothing to complain about. Especially factoring in this is his first year on the job, heaven forbid the guy wants to make some changes including attending the graduations of the students under his watch. This simply struck me as complaining for the sake of complaining. Like those people who, out at dinner, send steak back if they ask for medium and it comes out medium-well.
Tim December 07, 2012 at 05:20 PM
Nothing like pessimism to fuel your day. What's he supposed to do about the existing overcrowding he's inheirited within months? Mandate another 3 high schools and a couple middle schoold be built? He's inheirited a system with previous management that's been largely on auto-pilot. Yes, this does remind me of someone else who now holds a higher office. It takes time to fix problems, especially those developed over decades.
Mari December 07, 2012 at 06:44 PM
Tim, if he was changing graduations for next year, before plans were already made by all high schools in the Baltimore County system, I'd probably be more sanguine about this. Dr. Dance has had no influence on the education of this year's seniors, which you pretty much admit in your response to JD1. There is no real reason for him to be there except his self-aggrandization. It's not his day and he should not be disrupting plans that were already made for HIS convenience and desires. I don't like the way the graduations will probably be held now - one after the other at a venue that may or may not be convenient to schools on our side of town, possibly on a date that will conflict with plans already made, such as senior week reservations in OC with non-refundable deposits. Fortunately, ours is not one of the families with this issue, so don't tell me I'm crying about that; I'm just thinking of all the parties involved, especially the students and their parents. I don't like cattle call ceremonies of this type where you have to clear out immediately because another group is coming in and they need the parking and the seats and you can't stand around talking to other families for a few minutes. I've been to a couple weddings where the churches were booked like this and it's not fun. Hurry up, get out - I don't want graduation to be like that as well. Unfortunately, that's most likely going to happen now.
FIFA December 07, 2012 at 06:59 PM
Funny how some statements remind me of old jokes, like the one that ended with "patience, jackass, patience".
RARE MARYLAND INDEPENDENT December 07, 2012 at 11:47 PM
One day, a leader will emerge. It could be in the school system, it could be the Governor, it could be a President. A great leader in the BC school system would do the following: * Work tirelessly in the minority community especially, but in all communities - teach the following - You must learn to speak properly, you must learn to read properly, you must learn to dress properly, pull your pants up, get rid of the sideways ballcap with the tag still on the brim. Parents, you must stop this behavior also. Shun people who behave ignorantly. You (students) have much more skill than you give yourself credit!! Do not allow the opinion of other people to become your reality! * Work hard in the business community. Give those business community leaders the freeedom to "tell it like it is." Explain to the kids what it takes to get in the door, yet it is possible to achieve! Develop those partnerships now! * Go to teachers and explain to them - we expect you to teach. No monkey business, etc. But, we do have your back - if kids in your class are creating problems, remove them from the class and let the teachers teach! * Don't forget about the high achievers - challenge them to stay high achievers! * Teach financial literacy classes at an early age. Hire financial professionals to teach these courses. It is a start. Anyone who tries this will be labeled many things from the left. It would create controversy, but our future is at stake!
JD1 December 09, 2012 at 02:21 PM
Tim and FIFA - I appreciate your optimism, but frankly after 20+ years working in schools, I am sick and tired of PR campaigns while behind the scenes, the reality is bleak. Our schools need a front man who is willing to challenge the status quo and not be ruled by it. As far as overcrowding goes, he should be attending any meetings that involve new development especially in the Perry Hall area and advocating for his students. Instead of getting behind an evaluation system that failed miserably in Houston (do the research) he should be pushing MSDE to get out of the RTT - it's bad for schools, kids and teachers. Why are we playing politics with education?? All of those millions will dry up quickly as we struggle to hire and retain quality teachers that leave the system. His clear priority should be student engagement and not PR, but I have not heard those words yet. He should be demanding that local colleges improve teacher prep programs. We don't have a year to sit around while he tests the waters of public opinion. The problems are clear - we need solutions and leadership.
FIFA December 09, 2012 at 02:35 PM
JD1 - I will cut him a little slack. PR, regretfully, is part of the job. That said, 12 of your 20+ years of working was under Dr. Hairston, perhaps that is a good reason for your pessimism?
JD1 December 09, 2012 at 02:46 PM
FIFA - Not exactly - I have worked with a number of states and districts. I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly (you named it - Hairston). The best leaders I have seen come in and shed light on the real problems within the system. They get to work quickly cutting down the weeds. They make the teachers and staff who are doing the right thing feel safe and secure and scare the hell out of those who are in education for themselves with no regard for what's best for kids. He has been there since 7/1...its time for some significant direction.
pam litsinger December 13, 2013 at 12:18 PM
Ironic how Hereford area schools were not included in the town hall and that that the location was as far away from that area as possible. Would guess he's afraid that they will ask him about trying to change high school schedules.

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