The following were among actions taken by the Prince George's Board of Education at the Oct. 29 meeting. For more information call 952-6000.
MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES -- Following a task force report urging expansion of mental health services offered to county school children, board member Suzanne Plogman proposed the creation of a special council committee to act on the report. Action on the resolution will be taken at the Nov. 12 meeting.
Plogman said there are at least 20,500 students in the county in need of mental health services -- roughly one out of every five students. She said school counseling is inadequate and that in about 70 percent of the cases where students are referred to outside agencies, there is no follow-up by students and their parents.
"So we have a lot of kids who are just not getting the counseling they need," Plogman said.
One task force recommendation is to reduce the counselor/student ratio, but Plogman called it "unrealistic" given school budget constraints. Instead, Plogman says, the school system should look to county health agencies for assistance and apply for outside grant money to fund new positions and programs.
Currently, there is a counselor for every high school and middle school, but many elementary schools do not have counselors, making the systemwide ratio one counselor for every 4,000 students.
"With the kinds of services counselors are supposed to provide, the caseload is quite high," said Plogman.
The proposed committee would be appointed by the superintendent and would include psychologists, guidance counselors and school officials.
BUSINESS EDUCATION CURRICULUM -- The board voted to update the county's high school business education program next year. Associate Superintendent Louise Waynant said that outdated skills were being taught in some classes because students were not being given up-to-date training in using computers, which are now being used in many businesses.
About 24,000 students are enrolled in the county's business education program. Computers have been phased into business classes at the county's 20 high schools and two vocational schools in recent years. Education Supervisor Delores Brown said the computer curriculum in about 12 classes will be rewritten following the board's action. The program will not require any additional school funding, Brown said.
ADVANCED PLACEMENT COURSES -- The board approved the creation of pilot advanced placement courses in social sciences for the next school year, thus permitting county high school students for the first time to take the college-level courses in virtually all subject areas.
Two advanced-placement courses in government and politics will be offered at Oxon Hill and Eleanor Roosevelt high schools. If successful, the program will be expanded to include other high schools, according to Public Affairs Spokeswoman Bonnie Jenkins.
There are advanced placement classes in every other subject area except foreign languages, said Jenkins. Successful completion of advanced placement classes can qualify students for credit at many colleges and universities.