The Calvert County Board of Education approved a $7.3 million capital improvements program for fiscal 2006 at its meeting last week.

Under the plan for the budget year that begins in July, the county would pay $4.5 million of the costs and the state would pick up the remainder.

Most of the expenditures would be devoted to building elementary school classrooms so the county can meet the state's requirement to implement all-day kindergarten by 2007.

Under the program endorsed by the school board, $4.7 million would be spent in 2006 to build additional kindergarten classrooms at Beach, Patuxent, Plum Point, Huntingtown, St. Leonard and Windy Hill elementary schools.

The plan now goes to the county commissioners for their approval.

Labor Talks Deadlocked

The Maryland State Department of Education has reaffirmed its earlier declaration of an impasse in contract negotiations between the Calvert Board of Education and the school support staff union, clearing the way for arbitration.

State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick said Friday that the talks were indeed deadlocked after reviewing allegations by the union that the school system had misrepresented the status of negotiations.

The dialogue between the school board and the union broke down this month because of a disagreement over language that would guarantee staff the right to union representation during any disciplinary investigation.

Neale Building Ceremony

Archbishop Neale School will formally dedicate its new building in La Plata on Oct. 10.

Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick will preside at a dedication and blessing ceremony in the school gymnasium, beginning at 10:30 a.m.

The ceremony also will include remarks from the Rev. Karl Chimiak, school administrator, and Sister Helene Fee, principal. Plans call for musical performances by students, with a reception in the cafeteria after the ceremony.

The new school, which opened for classes in January, was built on the site of the former school building, which was destroyed by the April 28, 2002, tornado.

In September 2002, just a few months after the tornado, the school community celebrated its 75th anniversary.

Charles Board Seeks Input

The Charles County commissioners have established a schedule for the preparation of legislative proposals they will seek in the 2005 Maryland General Assembly.

Residents or organizations that seek to propose legislation must submit their suggestions in writing by Oct. 29. Proposals should be sent to: Legislative Request, Office of the County Attorney, P.O. Box 2150, La Plata, Md. 20646.

A preliminary package of legislative proposals will be available for distribution Nov. 8 and then presented to the commissioners at a public hearing at 7 p.m. Nov. 15. Anyone who submits a proposal will be asked to attend the hearing to provide a brief synopsis of the initiative and answer questions.

After reviewing the proposals and comments from the public hearing, the commissioners will decide which legislative requests to present to the Charles County delegation in Annapolis for their support during the 2005 legislative session.

Cancer Walk on Saturday

The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's annual Light The Night Walk is scheduled Saturday evening at the Governmental Center Complex on Leonard Hall Drive in Leonardtown.

The society organizes the event in partnership with St. Mary's County Department of Recreation, Parks and Community Services.

Registration begins at 6 p.m., with the walk scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. Individuals and teams are welcome. Chick-Fil-A is the food sponsor for the walk in St. Mary's and will serve food and refreshments to participants.

The Light the Night Walk is part of an annual nationwide effort to raise money for blood cancer research and patient services. Teams of co-workers, families and friends walk together in the twilight holding illuminated balloons -- white for survivors and red for supporters.

For more information, contact Carol Kruise, campaign manager, Maryland Chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, at 410-825-2500 or e-mail at kruisec@md.leukemia-lymphoma.org.

Poll Watchers Recruited

Debate continues over whether Maryland's electronic voting machines are a sign of progress or decline in democracy.

This week TrueVoteMD, one of the groups critical of the machines and their lack of a paper receipt for voters, launched a statewide drive to recruit poll-watchers to record any problems that occur in the state during the Nov. 2 election. Part of TrueVoteMD's campaign for verifiable voting, the program will recruit and train hundreds of people around the state to document voting irregularities and, where necessary, alert officials.

"In the absence of action by the state, it is up to the citizens of Maryland to document observable problems with the voting system on Election Day," said Linda Schade, a co-founder of TrueVoteMD. Over the next month, TrueVoteMD also will conduct training sessions throughout Maryland on state rules for poll-watching, legal requirements for reporting results and typical problems experienced by voters using electronic machines.

Information is available at TrueVoteMD.org or by contacting Amanda Bowers at info@freshaircleanpolitics.org or 301-270-6150.

Calvert Forum Sponsors

An item in this space last week about the Oct. 27 Calvert County Board of Education candidates forum had incomplete information on sponsorship of the event.

The forum is co-sponsored by the Calvert County Council of PTAs at Calvert Pines Senior Center in Prince Frederick. The organizers are Barbara Fetterhoff and Annette Funn of the League of Women Voters and Rose Crunkleton of the PTA Council.

Group Seeks Nominees

The Chesapeake Bay Trust is seeking nominations for its three award programs. They are:

* Ellen Fraites Wagner Award for outstanding volunteer contributions to the bay and river restoration.

* Teacher of the Year Awards for two teachers who have advanced the bay restoration and student achievement through classroom and hands-on experiences.

* Arthur Dorman Scholarship for a high school senior or college undergraduate for his or her parallel commitments to the Bay restoration and ethnic and cultural diversity.

More information and an application are available at www.chesapeakebaytrust.org. Applications must be submitted by Dec. 3.