Sept 5, 2019, Carroll County (MD) Times: With behavior referrals on rise in Carroll elementary schools, task force presents findings, recommendations https://www.baltimoresun.com/maryland/carroll/education/cc-elementary-behavior-task-force-20190905-czxkkb4hcng5jf5edpx34wg2gq-story.html The number of major behavior referrals in Carroll County elementary schools increased by 79 percent in four years according to statistics the Elementary Behavior Task Force presented to the Board of Education on Wednesday evening. The task force, formed by Carroll County Public Schools, found that major referrals for behavior have not only increased markedly, but a small group of students are showing behavior concerns more frequently and with greater intensity. Students in poverty and students in special education programs were demographics of concern for focusing resources, the task force told the Board. “The committee’s recommendations primarily focus on students with intense needs, while enhancing overall behavioral supports,” they said in the presentation. They made four recommendations. The first was focusing on direct services through behavioral and mental health staffing and smaller class sizes if possible. The second was pointing out the importance of professional development for teachers to gain behavioral, mental health and cultural proficiency training. For the third recommendation, the committee pointed out the importance of family support. One suggestion was to continue referring families to community services and programs. The fourth focus was on classroom instruction and the inclusion of social emotional learning as part of elementary school learning…. Muniz said they believed some of the uptick was due to more reporting and not necessarily more behavior incidents…. Board of Education President Donna Sivigny said after the presentation that the findings supported the school system’s desire to budget for more positions in the schools. In the first budget proposal made by Superintendent Steve Lockard to the county for financial year 2020, the school system proposed adding 29 new positions, some of which included special education resource teachers, elementary school academic specialists, school psychiatrists and intervention specialists. These were removed from the budget before it passed. Board member Marsha Herbert said she had been stunned by the cost of 29 new positions in the budget proposal, but felt the best course going forward is that, “we need to chisel away at that year after year.”… The Elementary Behavior Task Force was formed in the summer of 2018 because of anecdotal evidence that there were more behavioral problems of a serious nature occurring in the elementary schools. The system considered re-purposing some teaching positions as behavioral specialists, but wanted the task force to consider whether the data supported that action….