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Local News

In the Media: Change of Md. Septic System Requirements; Baltimore Team Seeks to Build Charter School

<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:ChesapeakeTidalWetlands.jpg">Jennifer Schmidt</a>
Wikipedia Commons

A digest of Baltimore news from local sources.

From the Baltimore Sun: Rollback of septic system requirements raises questions about bay impact

"Some environmental advocates worry that a state plan to roll back regulations for septic systems in parts of Maryland could stall efforts to clean up the Chesapeake Bay.

"But proponents of Gov. Larry Hogan's proposal say the O'Malley-era rules, which require septics with advanced technology everywhere in Maryland, offer little or undetermined benefit to the environment, while burdening homeowners and making housing less affordable.

"Hogan announced the new rules Saturday in a speech to the Maryland Association of Counties in Ocean City. They allow counties to decide whether to require septic systems with so-called 'best available technology' outside environmentally critical areas, including land within 1,000 feet of Maryland tidal waters or wetlands such as the Chesapeake Bay, Atlantic coastal bays and their tidal tributaries.

"The proposed policy offers a more effective approach while reducing regulatory burdens, Maryland's environment secretary said Monday.

"'This is a regulatory step that benefits the bay and the business community across the state, by providing a flexible, results-based approach to septic systems,' said Secretary Ben Grumbles, whose department drafted the regulations and sent them Monday to the legislature's Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive and Legislative Review.

"The administration wants to eliminate requirements approved in 2012 under then-Gov. Martin O'Malley that required new septic systems to use technology that reduces by half the amount of nitrogen being released into groundwater.

"Traditional septic systems have no controls for nutrients found in sewage waste such as nitrogen, which leads to algae blooms, fish kills and dead zones in the bay and tributaries, said Alison Prost, Maryland executive director for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

"Reverting to traditional systems would make it necessary to look for other ways to prevent pollution and reach and maintain nitrogen reduction goals by a 2015 target, she said.

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From the Baltimore Sun: Baltimore educators in the running for $10 million to build new charter school

"A team proposing to bring a 'revolutionary' charter high school to Baltimore, with students moving from project to project and customizing their schedules to earn diplomas in as few as two or as many as five years, has been named a finalist for a $10 million prize.

"The DaVinci Collaborative, made up of 27 educators, architects and technologists based in the city, is among five finalists for the money to be awarded by the widow of Apple visionary Steve Jobs. The group has made it past a thousand other competitors to reach the final round of a competition led by Laurene Powell Jobs.

"Although $10 million would not be enough to run a charter school, it would help the group build a facility and hire staff for opening day, said DaVinci Collaborative co-founder Travis Henschen.

"They expect to learn next month if they won the money to help move their plan from concept to reality. Their proposal was selected from 700 entries and is among 50 finalists for 'XQ: The Super School Project.' Five winners will be selected, each receiving $10 million. XQ representatives declined requests for an interview.

"The team members met at Edcamp, an annual educator conference in Baltimore led by the participants themselves.

"Henschen, 26, taught world history at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School before becoming director of Higher Achievement, an after-school and summer academic program in Baltimore that targets at-risk youth in fifth through eighth grades. He said the collaborative's idea for a charter school is centered around Leonardo da Vinci, who was known as a polymath, or an expert in several fields of study. Henschen said students at the new charter school would be freed from sitting in a classroom from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. every day and instead would have a personalized schedule with project-based lesson plans.

"'We want project-based learning to prepare students in the 21st century,' he said.

"The school would operate year-round and serve 400 to 500 students ages 14 to 20. The curriculum would be centered on STEAM, or science, technology, engineering, arts and math, according to a project outline. The school would feature group activities and cross-disciplinary learning on a daily basis, said Helene Luce, another co-founder. She is a former teacher and board member of the Patterson Park Public Charter School."

Full Article

From the Baltimore Brew: Policing Baltimore in black and white

"The magnitude of the unconstitutional stopping, searching and harrassing of African American people in Baltimore documented by the U.S. Justice Department last week was, even for those who have experienced it for generations, breathtaking.

"All the patterns and abuses decried for years (and, to be honest, that were cited in a raft of previous reports) were laid out by the federal government in 163 data-rich pages – this time destined to become a legally-binding consent decree overseen by an independent monitor:

'Excessive use of force, unnecessary stops for minor offenses or no offenses at all, glaring racial disparities and race and gender bias, failure to hold wrongdoers accountable and much more.

"We hope these info-graphics make the report more accessible and invite readers to dive deeper, as the big question looms – what needs to happen next to make city law enforcement more effective, more just and truly accountable to the community it serves?"

Full Article & Infographics