September 26, 2012 Minutes


 Members Present Dr. Segun Eubanks, Chair
Aimee Olivo
Bridgette Blue
Betsy Ramirez
M. H. Jim Estepp
Kathleen Teaze
Desiree Griffin-Moore
Dr. Donna L. Wiseman
Heather Iliff
 Members Not Present Dr. Donnette T. Dais
Dr. Leslie T. Fenwick
Keith Singletary
 Others Betsy Bratek, Citizen Advocate
Melody Spruill, Member, Parent Teacher Association
 Staff Betty Hager Francis
L.Denise Hall
Christian Rhodes

Call to Order

Chair Eubanks called the meeting to order at approximately 5:54 p.m.

Adoption of Agenda

The Chair asked for comments regarding the minutes. No changes were made; a motion to adopt the minutes was made and seconded.

Adoption of Minutes

The Chair asked for comments regarding the minutes. No changes were made; a motion to adopt the minutes was made and seconded.

Regular Business

Chair Eubanks advised the body this meeting would be the last meeting focusing on defining the Commission’s charges. Staff stated the County Executive wanted the Commission to go “bold” in exploring innovative options. It is also expected the Commission will establish a criteria for assisting the County Executive to review, evaluate, make recommendations for ideas and suggestions the County Executive receives from stakeholders regarding education.
The Chair advised the Commission’s work would begin in earnest during the next meeting. December is the target timeframe for producing the Commission’s initial work product. The body will be divided into four committees to cover the Commission’s four key charges.

Revised Work Plan

A revised draft of the Commission’s work plan was reviewed. The revised document includes changes resulting from comments, suggestions, and critiques made during the Commission’s prior discussions. The body was asked to review the Commission’s Core Work Statement and submit comments and changes for consideration.
The Short-Term Work Activities portion to the plan was discussed in detail. Three major activities were proposed under this section: (1) public engagement; (2) meeting with Board of Education; (3) conduct focus group. Staff reminded the body that the County Executive wants the Commission engaged in the community. The Chair stated the Commission would convene focus groups; their comments and concerns will be shared with the County Executive.

Additional discussion included

Public Engagement (includes businesses, communities, and school stakeholders)

  • Discussion
    • Define the clear goals of public engagement
    • Convene in numbers significant enough to engage
    • Gather and analyze data
    • Provide recommendations to County Executive
  • Structure public engagement to ensure order, momentum, and positive atmosphere; key audience participation of the business community; parents, non-parents, and parents with children in private school, etc.
  • Emulate and model the Envision Prince George’s County process for public engagement with specific emphasis on supports for education.
  • Utilize: (1) public meetings and roundtable discussions with the key audience; and (2) focus meetings with students, teachers, principals, and parents. Specifically, these sessions would focus on positive images, perceptions, and ask these questions, “what they would like about the schools, and what they want the schools to do?” It was suggested that if meetings are to be conducted around what the public thinks, the Commission should have some advance understanding of what that perception might be. It was also suggested the effort begin with smaller focus groups and the Board of Education. These smaller conversations will lead up to conversations with larger bodies.
  • Conduct two meetings with the Board of Education. The first one before the general election and the second after the new Board members has been impaneled.
  • Make engagement activities subject focused, i.e., sessions on engaging those that are not engaged and how can we prevent parents from moving. Also, focus more on one of the key points of engagement “money”. Have conversations around the impact of tax dollars on education.
  • Advise the County Executive on items that may be introduced during the upcoming legislative session. The discussion included developing a database of constituents the County Executive can utilize in Annapolis to promote a positive image of our County’s schools.
  • Develop a detailed analysis of whether perceptions of schools are based on reality or misinformation. (i.e., examine the perception of family, friends, and the media.)
  • Other Suggestions
    • Develop a positive slogan that can be promoted repeatedly
    • Advise County Executive to convene meetings with elected officials
    • Convene theme-focused Socratic groups
    • Add social media as a strategy
    • Use powerful and well-known people to move imaging message forward and engage more people
  • Consensus
    • Engagement should happen soon
    • Efforts to engage with parents, students, business owners, community leaders, and residents; this should be done in tandem with conducting focus groups with students, teachers, principals, parents, and other educators.
  • Timeline
    • It was noted that a highly-structured and well-organized approach will take time. There was concern that this could not be accomplished by November 2012. Staff advised that the Office of the County Executive has the resources to perform these tasks on short notice. However, some of the Commission expressed concern that attempting to go too big in such a short timeframe could present resource problems.
    • Mr. Estepp stressed from a business perspective, advocacy and efforts to mitigate the negative image of education in Prince George’s County needs to begin immediately. This negative image is having a direct impact on the County’s ability to attract businesses and increase revenue.

Meeting with School Board

  • Discussion
    Staff advised the Commission the County Executive wants the body to meet with the Board of Education members soon.
  • Consensus Items to Discuss with Board
    • Recent attrition in school system’s administration and the impact on the school system’s connection to non-profits and community groups
    • How the Commission and Board can tackle public engagement together
    • Align Transforming Neighborhoods Initiative’s (TNI) help with bolstering schools in real/practical ways to improve academic outcome
    • Brainstorm with Board on leveraging more opportunities to help school system
  • Timeline
    It was agreed this meeting should occur before the next Commission meeting on October 30, 2012.

County Executive's Role in Superintendent Search

  • Discussion
    The extent and nature of the County Executive’s role in the search for a Superintendent was briefly discussed in the open meeting, and the process was explained by staff.
  • Consensus
    The general consensus was that the County Executive should:
    • Have a role in shaping the criteria for selection
    • Be engaged in the recruitment process
    • Be part of the actual selection process

Public Comments Summary

Melody Spruill: Ms. Spruill stated that the best advocates for marketing efforts to project a positive image are parents having children in our schools. She recommended getting parents to trickle down information about the community’s engagement process developed by the Commission.

Next Meeting

October 30,2012

Administrative Business

Profile photos have been taken to accompany Commission bios. They will appear on the planned Web site. The launch date information is forthcoming.
Action Items

  • The Chair requested Commission members consider who the body should specifically meet with and provide the Chair with their recommendations; the Chair will compile a list.
  • The Chair will email the body requesting volunteers for committee membership and leadership.
  • Commission members should review the yellow-highlighted areas of the Work Plan, and send their comments to the Chair before next meeting.
  • The Chair and/or staff will schedule a meeting with the Board of Education members.


Meeting adjourned at 7:33 p.m.