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Faith Community Partnership Resources

Building a strong relationship with the community is critical to the success of Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) and our students. A key partner in our efforts to support students and families is the faith-based community. The first step toward strengthening this partnership is greater communication on issues important to us all. That is why MCPS, in partnership with the Montgomery County Executive's Faith Community Working Group, has developed resources that can be used by faith-based community leaders to help raise awareness about the district’s efforts to ensure all students succeed.

These resources include flyers, inserts and messages that can be used in newsletters, bulletins and on websites. Topics in these resources will range from equity to respecting religious diversity to school budgeting. 

Check back regularly for new materials about our school system.

 


A Safe Place to Learn: A Message from Superintendent Jack Smith

March 20: United We Learn | Combating Hate Through the Arts

Combating the elevated levels of divisiveness, prejudice, bias and hate that have emerged in our county and country is the responsibility of every community member, including students. To help our county combat hate, Montgomery County Public Schools, in partnership with the Montgomery County Faith Community Advisory Council, Montgomery County Office of Human Rights, Montgomery County Human Rights Commission and the Committee on Hate Violence, is launching United We Learn: Combating Hate through the Arts. This contest asks students to use art to explore issues of diversity, bias and prejudice to empower the community to combat hate. This contest is directly aligned with our core values of Learning, Respect, Relationships, Equity and Excellence.

Learn more here

March 2: Welcoming Schools, Regardless of Immigration Status

fast fact sheet  

Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) is committed to ensuring that all students feel safe and welcome in our schools, regardless of immigration status.

In recent weeks, parents and students have asked what steps MCPS is taking to ensure a welcoming learning environment, particularly in light of national conversations on immigration, as well as reports of increased deportation efforts by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

We do not intend to cause unnecessary alarm in our school communities, but we want our families and students to know that we are working with other Montgomery County agencies and community organizations to prepare for any scenario.

Learn more here

Other languages: español / 中文 / français / tiếng Việt / 한국어 / Amharic

February 14: Board of Education Approves FY 2018 Operating Budget Request

Dear Members of the Board of Education:

I am pleased to submit for your consideration my Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Operating Budget recommendation for Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS). I am recommending an FY 2018 Operating Budget of $2,519,848,012, which will help to build the foundation and structure that is needed to ensure that all MCPS students are ready to graduate from high school and are prepared to be successful in college and careers.

My recommendation includes an increase of $62,374,251 and 95.478 Full-time Equivalent (FTE) positions to fund the same level of services for a growing number of students, rising costs in operations, and strategic accelerators. Part of this increase is offset by savings of $24,678,901 generated by program efficiencies and reductions. This additional, $62,374,251 represents a 2.5 percent increase in the operating budget compared to FY 2017. 

In addition, this budget assumes that the Montgomery County Council will continue to fund $27,200,000 from the county’s Consolidated Other Post-employment Benefits Trust Fund to cover a portion of our retiree health benefits costs. 

As we begin our discussions on the FY 2018 Operating Budget, it should be noted that our community continues to receive a strong return on the investment it makes in our students. For instance, consider the recent performance of the MCPS students: 

  • In the 2015–2016 school year, a total of 17,569 MCPS students took at least one Advanced Placement exam with 75.8 percent earning a college-ready score of 3.0 or higher; 
  • The Class of 2016 earned a 1631 average combined SAT score, surpassing both the national and state averages; and 
  • Our students in the Class of 2016 earned $343 million in college scholarships. 

While MCPS has had a long history of high achievement for many students, not all students have been successful. There are groups of students who have not had the learning opportunities or reached learning levels that have prepared them to be successful in college, career, and community. These learning disparities fall most heavily on Black/African American students, Hispanic/Latino students, and students impacted by poverty. As the student population continues to grow, MCPS’ capacity to ensure the success of these children will define its success. We must act now to create a school system where academic success is not predictable by race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, language or disability. Our commitment to equity in no way lessens our commitment to excellence. Our commitment is to raise to excellence those students who have not yet achieved at their highest potential. 

The driving factor in preparing the FY 2018 Operating Budget is both maintaining successful practices that have led to strong student achievement in past years and investing in new strategies to ensure that all students are able to achieve at higher levels. The FY 2018 Operating Budget builds on the additional funding received in FY 2017 to reduce class sizes in many classrooms across the district and accelerate efforts to close the achievement gap. Ensuring opportunities and success for all students demand focused attention. While the differences that mark student achievement will not be eliminated in one year, this budget defines a clear path to improved achievement for all and instills confidence that MCPS will fulfill its core purpose of “preparing all students to thrive in their future.” 

The following table reflects the revenue and expenditure details of my FY 2018 Recommended Operating Budget compared to FY 2016 and current FY 2017 budgets. 

fast fact sheet

Managing Growth

Fiscal Year 2018 will be the ninth consecutive year that our enrollment has increased by at least 2,000 students, and the trend is expected to continue. While most of the student enrollment growth during the past several years has occurred in elementary schools, currently we are experiencing dramatic increases in secondary school enrollment – a trend expected to continue in the coming years as elementary students articulate to middle and high schools. By the 2022–2023 school year, enrollment is expected to reach 168,480 students, an increase of nearly 9,000 students from the current fiscal year.

In order to manage our expected student enrollment growth, my budget recommendation adds more than 226 FTE positions, including 120.0 general elementary/secondary FTE positions, 64.8 FTE positions for special education services, and 29.9 FTE positions to serve our growing population of students who receive English for Speakers of Other Languages services. We also need 12.4 FTE positions to open the new Bethesda/Chevy Chase #2 Middle School as well as 9.7 FTE positions to add Grade 8 to Hallie Wells Middle School for the 2017–2018 school year. Finally, we need 35.5 FTE positions in school support operations for transportation, school plant operations, and food services for the additional students and facilities expected next fiscal year. 

Strategic Accelerators 

This budget recommendation includes $10,207,815 in strategic accelerators, including 22.0 FTE positions. These resources help intensify efforts to close the persistent opportunity gaps and improve academic excellence for all. The strategic accelerators are grouped by the five strategic priorities that were outlined in fall 2016.

To support the core or principal strategy of improving teaching and learning, an additional $3,561,854 and 13.5 FTE positions are included. Within this total, $1,193,652 will be used to increase opportunities and improve achievement for students including implementation of a diploma program for students who need an alternative path for graduation, increasing access to Career Technology Education programs and implementation of apprenticeship programs. In addition, $457,311 will be used to enhance achievement focused co-curricular programs to all middle schools to increase outcomes and opportunities for students. In addition to new dollars, realigned dollars will support these efforts including the realignment of a supervisor position to provide coordination of efforts. A total of $1,037,103 and 12.5 FTE positions will expand the home school model to the remaining elementary schools. To ensure effective mathematics instruction, an increase of $500,000 is needed to provide professional development, instructional materials, focused support, and approaches to scheduling students in elementary and middle schools. Funding of $150,000 will be used to add six additional equal opportunity schools, as part of a nationwide initiative, to increase students’ access to advanced academic courses, and $192,689 to implement two-way immersion programs at elementary schools and plan for middle school options.

For the focus on learning, accountability, and results, a total of $2,475,772 and 2.0 FTE positions are included. Within this total, $1,271,022 and 2.0 FTE positions are to implement a systemwide data system for all schools to better measure student performance as we work to prepare all students for success in college, career, and life. Funding of $654,750 will allow MCPS to implement an online Individualized Education Program (IEP)/Section 504 system that will allow us to better analyze IEP data and access tools to support students with disabilities in early childhood as well as secondary transitions. A total of $450,000 is included to ensure that any Grade 11 student interested in taking the SAT or ACT exam will be able to do so. In addition, $85,000 is needed to implement an online high school planner for college and career readiness for all Grades 8‒9 students and expanded to additional grades in the 2018–2019 school year.

An additional, $1,266,032 and 1.5 FTE positions will support our focus on human capital. This includes $100,000 to provide training for teachers on effective strategies, content knowledge, and cultural competency. To build out our human resources system for schools, we are including $575,000 in this year’s budget. Also, $422,135 is included to develop pathways for supporting services staff who desire to become teachers as we continue to build our workforce with highly effective committed educators. Finally, $168,897 and 1.5 FTE positions will be used to intensify our equity recruitment, hiring, and retention efforts.

For our focus on community engagement and partnerships, an additional $1,246,703 and 2.0 FTE positions are included. Within this total, $734,959 and 1.0 position will be used to improve support to families through improved communication and increased materials for parents to help children succeed in schools. In addition, $149,744 and 1.0 position will be used to create an East County arts elementary program that imbeds additional music into the learning experience for students. To expand the Achieving Collegiate Excellence and Success to five additional schools, an increase of $147,000 is included. Funding of $120,000 will be used to create community and business partnership to establish summer work programs for Montgomery County high school teenagers and to enhance existing partnerships focused on tutoring and instruction; $95,000 to expand Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) courses and extracurricular programs to increase the number of underrepresented students in STEM fields; and an additional $45,000 will be added to the budget to support our Interages partnerships.

An increase of $1,657,454 and 3.0 FTE positions are included for our focus on operational excellence. To improve business systems that are either obsolete or cumbersome in order to create effective and efficient business operations, an increase of $1,007,416 and 1.0 position is included. A total of $503,000 is included to streamline the school registration process through an online system that will create efficiencies and reduce errors. Finally, $147,038 and 2.0 FTE positions are added to improve our security operations. 

Program Efficiencies, Reductions, and Realignments

While this operating budget realigns and accelerates funding in important areas to improve teaching and learning for all students, program efficiencies and reductions totaling $24,678,901 and 196.29 FTE positions also are included. This includes reductions of $4,780,088 and 37.750 FTE positions from central services. Major program reductions include $6,216,923 and the elimination of 91.550 FTE instructional data analyst positions. Other program reductions include $2,475,915 and 35.5 FTE for reading initiative teacher positions and $460,311 and 6.6 FTE for literacy coach positions. Some special program teacher positions also are being eliminated totaling $362,669 and 5.2 FTE positions. Also, there is a reduction of $694,446 and 9.0 FTE positions in Alternative Programs. Reductions in Special Education programs total $767,494 and 10.475 FTE positions mostly for teacher and paraeducator positions.

There are funding reductions of $2,153,000 in professional development stipends, $2,000,000 in instructional materials, $575,902 in the career lattice program, and $800,000 in tuition reimbursement. With the elimination of the regional summer school at the elementary school level, a total of $336,194 will be saved. It is important to note this does not impact our summer program at individual schools or our Building Educated Leaders for Life partnership program. Other major reductions include reductions in substitutes, stipends, furniture, and travel.

In order to reduce the overall budget, the increase typically included for inflation related to rising costs for textbooks and instructional materials totaling $483,590 for FY 2018 will be absorbed. Based on actual expenses in recent years, expenditures for the purchase of bus tires and parts can be reduced by $625,000. Finally, the utility budget can be reduced by $1,100,000 due to price and consumption reductions and efficiencies. While these and other smaller reductions are both difficult and painful, given the other funding requirements in this budget, coupled with our commitment to excellence for all our students, they must be included in this recommended budget.

There are a number of budget-neutral realignments in the Recommended FY 2018 Operating Budget. Major realignments include the Department of Instructional Leadership being realigned from the Office of School Support and Improvement to the Office of the Chief Academic Officer for the purpose of consolidating professional leadership efforts in the district. Another realignment involves the establishment of the Office of the Chief Financial Officer where budget and finance-related functions are consolidated for the school district.

Contract Negotiations

The three-year agreements that the Board of Education ratified on March 11, 2014, will expire at the end of FY 2017. Negotiations began in October 2016 and are continuing at this time with our three employee associations on new contracts to be effective July 1, 2017. While the final terms of these contracts have not yet been agreed upon, in order to plan for the requirements of the FY 2018 Operating Budget, a total of $55,000,000 has been included to support the negotiated agreements once they are finalized. By the time that the Board approves its budget on February 14, 2017, more details on these contracts should be available.

A Budget Developed in Collaboration with our Partners

My recommended FY 2018 Operating Budget was developed in partnership with our employees and parents/guardians. I want to thank the leadership of the Montgomery County Association of Administrators and Principals, the Montgomery County Education Association, and the Service Employees International Union Local 500 for their collaboration and commitment during the development of this budget. I also am grateful to the leaders of the Montgomery County Council of Parent Teacher Associations, Inc., and representatives of the African American Student Achievement Action Group and the Latino Student Achievement Action Group, who also were involved in the development of this budget recommendation. Finally, I am appreciative for the dedication and cooperation of our executive leadership team and other MCPS staff in the development of this operating budget recommendation. This budget has been developed with the important goal of improving outcomes and opportunities for each and every student that attends MCPS. I look forward to working with the Board of Education on my recommended FY 2018 Operating Budget. This budget reflects our core values of learning, relationships, respect, excellence, and equity. It reflects our commitment to continue the investment in all our children so that they may complete their MCPS education ready to be successful in college, career, and community.

Sincerely,

Jack R. Smith, Ph.D.

Superintendent of Schools

January 30: A Message from the Board of Education: Safe and Welcoming Learning Environment

As we begin 2017, we want to take this opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to providing a safe and welcoming environment for every MCPS student to learn.

Montgomery County has experienced an increase in hate-based incidents in the community in recent months, including some that have affected our schools. While these incidents are not unique to our county and are a reflection of what we are seeing across the nation, please know that MCPS is working with the Montgomery County Police Department and is taking all necessary steps to address these incidents. These hate-based actions by a small handful of people are wrong and antithetical to our core values of respect and equity, which are fundamental to ensuring student learning. As Superintendent Jack R. Smith has stated, MCPS will not tolerate this behavior.

Disciplinary action represents only one tactic MCPS uses to ensure our schools remain welcoming and safe for all. MCPS takes proactive steps to promote cultural understanding and celebrate diversity in our classrooms and schools. From English and social studies to physical education and health education, MCPS students are exposed to diverse perspectives; examine the cultural beliefs, customs and traditions of people from different backgrounds; are taught about acceptance and respect for others; and learn about culture as part of building cultural awareness and appreciation for others.

Through our Study Circles program, we provide students, staff and parents with resources to engage in uncomfortable but critical conversations about race, religion and culture. These conversations allow us to hear about and learn from different perspectives other than our own. In partnership with the faith communities of Montgomery County, MCPS also has developed Guidelines for Respecting Religious Diversity. These guidelines are part of our commitment to ensuring all of our students have the right to express their religious beliefs and practices, free from discrimination, bullying or harassment.

[Read the Guidelines for Respecting Religious Diversity]

Cultural competency training is also a key component in our effort to ensure a welcoming learning environment for students. We know that race and culture have a direct influence on teaching and learning. Through the MCPS Equity Initiatives Unit, we help our educators build cultural proficiency so they can successfully incorporate classroom practices, structures and processes that eliminate inequities based on race and ethnicity and build successful relationships that nurture high achievement across all diverse backgrounds. The MCPS Office of Human Resources and Development also is proactively recruiting more educators from historically underrepresented communities so that students have diverse role models in their schools.

[Watch a Video about our Equity Initiatives]

We also have heard your concerns regarding the welfare of undocumented students. Let me be clear, MCPS remains a welcoming learning environment for all students, regardless of immigration status. While as a general matter, Immigration and Customs Enforcement treats schools as sensitive areas where arrests, interviews, searches and surveillance will not occur; MCPS administrators are closely monitoring the situation. We have, and will continue to, inform our staff that they should not take any actions that may discourage the participation or lead to the exclusion of students based on immigration status. Supporting students and their families is a priority for MCPS. The Montgomery County Council recently passed a resolution on this issue.

MCPS will continue to strengthen its commitment to equity and equality in our schools. The recommended operating budget for next year, which serves as a moral document for supporting student success, reflects this commitment through dedicated funds for equity initiatives, such as the Minority Scholars Program for students and implicit bias training for staff.

[Read the Fiscal Year 2018 Recommended Operating Budget]

The mission of our school system is to ensure every student will have the academic, creative problem solving, and social emotional skills they need to be successful in college and career. To make sure we can assist them in achieving this goal, we must first provide a safe, welcoming place for all students to learn. The Board of Education has and will continue to strongly advance and enact policies that support the well-being of all students and protect them from all forms of harassment, bullying or discrimination.

We wish you and your family the best for the new year.

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January 4: 2018 Recommended Operating Budget

Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) Superintendent Jack R. Smith is recommending a $2.52 billion Operating Budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 that will allow the district to manage significant enrollment growth and build the foundation and structure that is needed to ensure that all MCPS students are able to achieve at higher levels.

Dr. Smith is proposing a $2.52 billion budget for FY 2018, which is a $62.37 million increase over FY 2017—about 2.5 percent—and is 1.5 percent over the minimum county funding level.

“My operating budget recommendation builds on investments the district has made over the years and reflects our core values of learning, relationships, respect, excellence and equity,” Superintendent Smith said. “This budget defines a clear path to improved achievement for all and instills confidence that MCPS will fulfill its core purpose of preparing all students to thrive in the future.”

Most of the $62.37 million spending increase will be used to provide the same level of services to a growing number of students; fund ongoing salaries and benefits; and manage increasing operational costs. The recommendation includes $10.21 million in strategic priority accelerators that are focused on improving student performance while narrowing achievement gaps.

Dr. Smith’s recommendation reflects the Board of Education’s budget interests and significant input from a broad array of stakeholders. This included staff, parents, students and community members who were a part of several budget teams and provided input on specific areas of need.

The recommended budget also was built in partnership with representatives from the MCPS employee associations, the Budget Steering Committee and several district and community groups.  

Dr. Smith presented his budget to the Board of Education during its Dec. 13 business meeting. Michael Durso, president of the Board of Education encouraged the public to get informed and become involved in the budget process.

“We appreciate the hard work and collaboration that went into creating this budget recommendation,” Mr. Durso said. “We look forward to hearing from the public on Dr. Smith’s recommendation, as we seek to build a budget that will help us meet the needs of our growing student population, staff and community.”

In summary, Dr. Smith’s recommended budget includes—

Enrollment/Growth

$17.63 million

New School/New Grade

$5.24 million

Employee Benefits & Insurance

$16.65 million

Strategic Accelerators

$10.21 million

Inflation, rate changes and other increases

$4.41 million

Continuing Salaries

$32.20 million

Grants/Enterprise/Other Changes

$2.16 million

Non-Recurring Costs

($1.45) million

Changes/Realignments

($24.68) million

 

Highlights of Dr. Smith’s Recommendation

Managing Growth

Enrollment in MCPS this school year is 159,010 students, an increase of more than 2,500 students compared with last year and more than 21,000 students since 2007. By 2022, enrollment is expected to reach 168,480.

The percentage of students needing services to ensure their success—such as Free and Reduced-price Meals (FARMS) and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) services—continues to grow as well. Currently, 34.5 percent of students receive FARMS and 14.2 percent of students participate in ESOL.

In order to manage the projected growth in FY 2018, Dr. Smith’s budget recommendation adds more than 226 positions, including 120 general elementary/secondary positions, 64.8 positions for special education services, 29.9 positions for ESOL instruction, and 35.5 positions for student transportation, school plant operations and food services.

The recommendation also includes $32.20 million for continuing salary costs and $16.65 million to pay for benefits for current and retired employees. There are $24.68 million in efficiencies and reductions in the budget, including further cuts to central services and the elimination of instructional data analyst positions.

Strategic Priorities

Dr. Smith’s recommendation includes $10.21 million in strategic accelerators, including 22.0 positions. These resources will help intensify efforts to close persistent opportunity gaps and improve academic excellence for all.

[Read the Budget Fast Facts]

“If achievement and opportunity gaps can be closed anywhere, I believe they can be closed here and we must act now to create a school system where academic success is not predictable by race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, language or disability,” Dr. Smith said. “Our commitment to equity in no way lessens our commitment to excellence. Our commitment is to raise to excellence those students who have not yet achieved at their highest potential.”

The strategic accelerators are grouped in the following five key areas: improve teaching and learning; focus on learning, accountability and results; focus on human capital; focus on community partnerships and engagement; and focus on operational excellence. Among the recommended investments in these five areas:

Improve Teaching and Learning

  • Increase opportunities for students to participate in rigorous coursework, programs, and co-curricular activities including in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) areas

  • Expand achievement-focused extracurricular programs to all middle schools to increase outcomes and opportunities for students

  • Expand home-school model special education programs

  • Ensure effective mathematics instruction through robust materials, focused support and approaches to scheduling

Focus on Learning, Accountability and Results

  • Improve understanding of data through implementation of comprehensive data systems

  • Provide assessment opportunities for all students who want to take the SAT, ACT, or other career certification assessments

  • Implement climate surveys for staff and students

  • Implement systems that result in comprehensive and systemic college/career planning efforts

Focus on Human Capital

  • Implement required professional learning for teachers and paraeducators to include cultural competency, implicit bias and restorative practice

  • Provide focused training for teachers on effective practices and content knowledge

  • Develop comprehensive pathway programs for supporting services staff who want to become teachers

  • Expand equity and excellence hiring efforts

Focus on Community Partnerships and Engagement

  • Build pipelines from elementary schools to improve engagement and opportunities in arts, sciences and mathematics programs

  • Expand partnership with Montgomery College and the Universities at Shady Grove to increase number of schools in the ACES program

  • Develop and communicate resources and materials to provide parents and partners with information on available opportunities and improving outcomes for students

Focus on Operational Excellence

  • Create efficiencies and ensure effective operations through updating and enhancing business systems

  • Enhance air quality, maintenance support and prevention programs

 

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