Tag: baltimore county

Baltimore County Students Beat State and National AP Averages

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With schools strongly encouraging more and more students to sit for the Advanced Placement tests, you’d expect pass rates to drop from the less prepared or less motivated students not scoring as high. Well that’s not what happened in Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS), exactly.

On February 14, BCPS released their good news that 63.8 percent of their AP test takers scored the passing 3 or higher. This is significantly better than both state (59.0 percent) and national (55.8 percent) averages.

Compared to the 2010 results, the percentage of BCPS students who received a 3 or above decreased from 66.4 percent to 63.8 percent in 2011. However, the percentage of graduating seniors who took at least one exam rose from 35 percent in 2010 to 36.6 percent in 2011. While the overall pass rate dipped, BCPS still outperformed and outnumbered the nation. Only 30.2 percent of students across the country took an AP exam last year.

Judging from the College Board of Advanced Placement’s “8th Annual AP Report to the Nation,” the class of 2011 deserves a pat on the back. More that 18 percent of the nation’s class of 2011 scored a 3 or higher on an AP test during their high school career.

 

Baltimore County Latest to Honor Health Benefits for Same-Sex Spouses

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2012 will mark the beginning of Baltimore County extending health benefits to its employee’s same-sex spouses.  The policy change comes after arbitration in favor of two police officers who filed grievances over the failure of the county to provide health coverage (that they had been paying for) to their same-sex spouses.

Baltimore County is not the first locale in Maryland to give at least some faith and credit to the legal same-sex marriages of other states. Employees of the state of Maryland, Baltimore City, Howard County, and Montgomery County already include their same-sex spouses in their health benefits.

The new policy will only acknowledge gay couples with a legal marriage (from another state, of course) and will not extend to those living in domestic partnerships. But it’s an incremental win for gay rights advocates in Maryland and highlights same-sex marriage as a fairly simple civil rights issue. Hopefully, it will soon become clear to those who stumble over the issue on religious grounds that to deny gays the right to marry is simply to deny American citizens equal protection under the law.

Real Estate Gossip: Cliffeholme Sells, Stemmer House’s New Owners, Tony Foreman’s New Restaurant’s Opening Date

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We learned over the weekend that Cliffeholme, the historic mansion in the Greenspring Valley that we wrote about in August, sold last Friday. Still no word on the identity of the new owners. But we did finally find out the identity of the new owners of Stemmer House, the 27-acre, three-building, two-pond, six-garden estate, also in the Greenspring Valley, that we wrote about in May. It sold to the CEO of Lion Brothers, an old Baltimore embroidery company. Our source tells us that the family has established a close relationship with former owner Barbara Holdridge, who lived in the house for over 35 years, and is working closely with her to make sure every change is done with the utmost care. Sounds like they are up to the task of caring for and preserving this lovely, cherished Baltimore County property.

Lastly, Tony Foreman’s new restaurant in Roland Park, originally slated to open at the end of the year, will not open until mid-March, we are told.  Residents’ concerns — although not from the RP homeowners’ association — have delayed the project, but it is still on track to open, just a little later than anticipated.

Four Challenges for the New Baltimore County Superintendent

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Joe Hairston, superintendent of Baltimore County schools for over a decade, announced this week that he’s leaving. Are you interested in his job?

The pros:  while teachers in the County have some of the lowest salaries in the state, the superintendent’s salary last year was the highest in Maryland. (Last year, Hairston made $303,000, thanks to his long tenure.) And Baltimore County schools consistently rank near the top of statewide assessments of test scores and graduation rates.

Not so fast, though:  The job is tough, and getting tougher. Here are a few of the challenges the next superintendent will have to face:

  • Pockets of wealth — and pockets of poverty. Being charged with a district that draws from such a diverse economic pool means that the next superintendent needs to be sensitive to issues of equity.
  • The recession. According to Hank Gmitro, whose firm helped several Maryland counties search for new superintendents, districts like Baltimore Country are looking for “candidates who want to make a difference and understand the issues around equity: ‘How do you get everyone the resources they need?’ And it has become more difficult in hard financial times.”

Art For Land’s Sake: Art and More

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Sponsored Post Art for Land’s Sake, the annual fund raiser for the Valleys Planning Council, can always be counted on to showcase top local and national artists in a wide variety of mediums. This year’s event, hosted by Stiles Colwill at Halcyon Farm, offers an added bonus: a glimpse of the 122-acre historic horse farm and its newly restored barn. Colwill, the renowned interior designer and former Baltimore Museum of Art chairman, will display all of the show’s artwork from over 40 artists in the freshly rehabbed barn. Featuring oak floors, eight chandeliers and other custom features, the space was refurbished with parties in mind. Anticipation for a view of the barn is as high as anticipation for a view of the art!

Artists in the show include local favorites like photographer Katherine Dilworth, and painters Jean Merrick Maddux, Helen Hilliard and Iva Gillet, among others. All the artists donate thirty-five percent of sales to the Valleys Planning Council. “We are delighted to host this event,” says Mary Louise Foster, chair of the event. “It has always been exciting to plan, but the real pay-off for me is seeing local artists come together to support the preservation of land in Baltimore County.”

The Art for Land’s Sake Preview Party will be held Friday, September 30 from 5 – 9 p.m. at Halcyon Farm, 11245 Greenspring Avenue in Lutherville. Tickets are $125 and include cocktails, food, show admission and opening art sales. Contrary to previous reports, tickets may be purchased at the door so it’s not too late to plan to go. The show continues on Saturday and Sunday from noon until 4 p.m. Tickets for the show only are $5 and may be purchased at the door.

The Valleys Planning Council works to preserve the rural and historic nature of the Green Spring and Worthington Valleys. Established in 1962, the council has played an important role in crafting land use polices to control growth and increase land conservation in Baltimore County.  

Sweet Cottage for Simple Living

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HOT HOUSE: 601 Walker Avenue, Towson 21212 

Storybook farmhouse  in Lake Walker neighborhood, built in 1891.  Two stories, four bedrooms, one and a half baths on a half acre of landscaped grounds: $250,000 

What:  Ever wish that life could be simpler?  This picturesque 1891 farmhouse cottage and its tiny Lake Walker community are like a trip back in time — and not just because the owners, Robert and Joan Browne, have lived here for over 50 years.  Mr. Browne is a long-time Baltimore artist, and his wife is his favorite model. Together they have filled the house with art and left it much as it was at the turn of the century. Enter through a side gate, onto a small porch and into the entrance hall. Narrow stairs climb to the second floor, and a pretty living and dining room feature long windows that look out to the garden. Across the hall is a wonderful den with fireplace, and bay window overlooking the side garden. Brick herringbone paths wind from here out to the detached shed and artists studio. The kitchen, at the back of the house, is surprisingly spacious, with brick linoleum floor and wooden cabinets, all circa 1970. Just off the kitchen is the half bath, small and dark, in desperate need of a re-do. The basement is a true, unfinished cellar, with an entrance to the back garden. There are hardwood floors throughout, and lots of quirky built-ins and craftsman touches. The bedrooms and one full bath (no master suite here) are all upstairs: short on closets but long on windows and charm. An attic, accessed through pull-down stairs, was once a fifth (servants?) bedroom.  No central air conditioning, but new roof. And a separately deeded parcel of land, included with the property and located  in Baltimore county, which seems to explain the Stoneleigh school district.  A very unique and wonderful property.

Where: Lake Walker is just north of Northern Parkway and east of York Road, right at the city/county line.  It was built at the turn of the century on what remained of the ‘Drumquastle’ estate — a parcel of several hundred acres given to William Govan in 1775 by the sixth Lord Calvert and named after his father’s estate in Scotland. Follow Gittings Avenue east, across York Road, and you’re in Lake Walker — a few streets of cottages and bungalows, well kept and quiet, where, according to Mrs. Browne, “everyone looks out for each other, and there are lots of children.”  From here you can walk to Belvedere Square as well as the multitude of shops on York Road like Panera, Party City, Wells Liquor — the world is your oyster.  The highly-regarded Stoneleigh Elementary is your local public school. 

Why: Unimaginably sweet. Like living in a fairy tale, or your dream grandmother’s house in the woods.  Narrow little stairs, a funny sleeping porch upstairs, the den (with fireplace)  overlooking the garden (with artist studio). Convenient location.  Lots of potential.  And you gotta love the price.

Would Suit: Edward Scissorhands, Tasha Tudor, Pam and Jim from The Office.  

NB: It does need quite a bit of work. Depending on your personality and budget, you could live in the house and slowly bring in into the modern era, or do the major work before you move in. Bathrooms, kitchen, cellar and attic are ripe for renovation.

Splendor in the Woods

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One Acre and a Barn, on Brightside

HOT HOUSE: 7340 Brightside Road, Woodbrook 21212 

Contemporary converted barn, circa 1898, with beamed ceilings and open floor plan on 1.2 acres . Four bedrooms, two full and two half baths on two stories: $1,175,000

What: Once an old wooden barn that was part of a larger estate, now a light filled, open-plan home that fits snugly into its gently sloping lot, just steps from Lake Roland.  Completely renovated six years ago, the house has been thoughtfully and historically restored — keeping the integrity of the design, but adding stylish features like wide plank, old growth timber flooring, a new cook’s kitchen with stone and bamboo countertops, wood burning pizza oven, and a large screened porch overlooking the woods. A distinctive arched entry foyer leads directly to the large family room, where wide sliding doors along the wooded back of the house set a casual tone. The doors open onto a stone patio, with good entertaining potential, overlooking the woods. There are nice old wooden beams, as well as fireplaces, in the living room, family room and the roomy eat-in kitchen.  Upstairs, the four bedrooms offer sunny, treetop views of Lake Roland. The windows are double-paned, there is central air and electric heat. As a bonus, there is a neat old “bank barn” next to the house, a former stable (and chicken coop!)built into the bank of the hillside. It has the original doors and new French drains to keep it dry. It would make a wonderful guest house or studio.  

Where: Brightside is one of the most desirable streets in Woodbrook (adjacent to Ruxton but not quite Ruxton), a private, rural-ish road with lovely homes just a minute or two from the Baltimore City line. Heading north from the city on Charles Street, take a left at the light onto Bellona Avenue. Brightside is on your left, about a half mile down Bellona, and 7340 is at the end of the street, just before the lake. 

Why: Clean lines, unpretentious design, feeling of open space, nice details, that bank barn, and access to the wooded trails and shoreline of Lake Roland.  

Would Suit: Family (or not) who appreciate the woodsy property and the old/new aspect of the house.  

NB:  Although the trail-walking is great, “destination walking” is not really possible from here. No sidewalks, plus cars speed along Bellona in a rush to Graul’s. 

Stemmer House Sells in Eleventh Hour

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The Sun reported last week that Stemmer House sold the night before it was to go to auction. But to whom? The Sun could not get the details. We have been poking around all week to get someone to identify the new owner so we could report it to you, dear reader, but to no avail.  Now we appeal to you: Does anyone know who has the house estate under contract?

Let us know in the comments. 

Worthington Valley Cottage: City Convenience, Country Charm

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HOT HOUSE: 12923 Dover Road, Reisterstown, MD 21136

New England style salt-box colonial on 3.85 wooded acres in Poplar Ridge, in the Worthington Valley: $1,125,000

What: This could be the place you’ve been waiting to land. 12923 Dover is a comfortable, airy, three-story colonial, built in 1978 along the simple lines of a Nantucket captain’s house. Four bedrooms and four-and-a half baths on a private wooded lot also make it a great family home.  The backyard cries out for kids, soccer goals and lacrosse gear-–it’s a wide-open yet private place to play. The lot is big enough for a pool or tennis court, although lovely just as it is and a keen gardener could create a beautiful wooded garden here. An attractive barn/shed on the property will help store all that gear. Inside, past the entrance foyer, the generously proportioned, new (redone only last year) kitchen is furnished with all mod cons and has a big window overlooking the woods–heaven for the dish do-er. Also on the first floor are formal but relaxed living and dining rooms, family room and a big porch overlooking the woods. Open floor plan means the rooms flow nicely into one another, creating a good flow for entertaining. Family room and living room have wood-burning fireplaces. High-end details like crown molding, built-in bookcases and hardwood flooring add character.  Upstairs, the bedrooms are nice and there’s a good-sized master suite with walk-in closet and luxurious all-white bathroom. A finished basement for the kids when it’s raining, central air, forced air heat–all systems go. 

Where: Dover Road is off of Greenspring Avenue, in the posh Worthington Valley. Think golf, think horses, think trees. Nearby are the shops at Greenspring Station and Stevenson Village. For groceries, the fabulous Wegman’s in Hunt Valley is just a few easy miles away. For being far out, the location is actually a pretty good gig.  

Why: Pretty property near several golf courses.  Also, proximity to Halcyon House, decorator Stiles Colwell’s glamorous little farm house boutique just a mile or two down the road.  

Why Not: It’s dark out here at night, and the roads twist and turn–driving home after a few drinks could present more than the usual challenges…or maybe it’s just me.

Would suit: Young family. People who’ve always wanted to live in the country. Golfers.

Seven Baltimore County Schools Among Best in the Nation Says Newsweek.com

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Newsweek.com named seven Baltimore County public schools among the top 500 public schools in the nation. In order of ranking, the schools were Eastern Technical High School (no. 131), Hereford High School (no. 219 and alma mater of Baltimore Fishbowl intern Marta Randall), the Carver Center (no. 232), Pikesville High (no. 388), Towson High (no. 413) and Dulaney Valley High (no. 446). The schools rankings were based on graduation rate, average SAT score, average AP exam score, and the percentage of students who go on to college, among other statistics. Results reflect data from the 2009-2010 school year. Newsweek.com reached out to over 10,000 schools to compile the final list.

Individual data lines up the schools differently. Take average SAT scores, for example. As reported on newsweek.com, they were Towson, first, with 1742 (out of a perfect 2400); Hereford: 1686; Dulaney: 1672; Carver: 1654; Eastern: 1623; Loch Raven: 1573 and Pikesville: 1539.

In Maryland, the highest ranking school was in Poolesville High School in Montgomery County which ranked 64th in the nation (SAT average: 1828). The next highest was Winston Churchill High School in Potomac, which came in at number 91 (average SAT of 1824). The two Montgomery County high schools were the only two Maryland schools in the top 100 and featured in Newsweek magazine–the others were featured online at newsweek.com only.

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