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Reconstitution and Riverdale

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By David Hiles

By now, you know that the Maryland Board of Education added Riverdale Elementary to its list of reconstitution-eligible schools in late January. What does this mean for our town's real estate values, for our school, and for our children? What changes are in store? What about Superintendent Metts? Here are my answers to some of these questions. The rest will be covered in next month's Crier.

How will reconstitution help Riverdale Elementary?

Riverdale will get more money from the State. We may be able to address basic issues that have been hindrances for years, such as overcrowding, open space classrooms, student and staff turnover, and crowded playground space.

How will it affect your child's experience at Riverdale Elementary?

Changing MSPAP scores and school improvements are things that happen at the school-wide level. But learning happens with one child at a time, and Riverdale is already doing very good things. Riverdale's SFA curriculum tests every student every 8 weeks. The test results put students into the reading group they belong in right now, regardless of their grade. My daughter's 4th grade, 1st half group has fourth and fifth graders in it. Nobody gets left behind, nobody gets held up.

A good system is in place. Administrators, teachers, students, and parents are beginning to get the hang of it, now that we are part-way through the second year of SFA. We are working hard to keep reconstitution from disrupting the administrative and teaching staff of Riverdale.

What can you do to help?

If you have a child at Riverdale, read with your child for your 20 SFA minutes every night. Help them learn their multiplication tables. Be involved in their education, because no school can do it all. Meet with your teachers.

For extra credit: Xerox stuff for your teacher. Volunteer at school once a month. Write a small check out to Riverdale Elementary School each month and send it to Principal Smith. Join the PTA.

If you have a child that is currently going to another elementary school, call Principal Smith (301-985-1850), ask her some tough questions, and consider joining us next fall. Your active presence and experience will make us stronger!

If you are retired or otherwise available, we need even more volunteers during the day. We need substitute teachers. You can restrict your assignments to Riverdale and to those days when you are available. Substitutes are paid $53 per day (8:30-2:45) with a high school degree, and $64 a day with a college degree. Join the PTA.

If you are a business owner, make a tax-deductible contribution to our PTA fundraising drive. Checks should be made out to Riverdale Elementary School PTA. They can be dropped off at the school office or mailed to us at school, 5006 Riverdale Rd, Riverdale, MD 20737.

David Hiles is this year's Riverdale Elementary School PTA President. Contact him at 301-779-8620, or at This article is his opinion. It does not express PTA or school policy.

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