Board Approves School Calendar for 2008–2009 and Legislative Platform for 2008 Maryland General Assembly
Board Expresses Concern about State’s Recent Action on High School Assessments
The Board of Education met on Tuesday (November 13) and, among other items, approved the school calendar for 2008-2009 and a legislative platform addressing education issues before the Maryland General Assembly in 2008. The Board voted to send a letter to the Maryland State Board of Education and other leaders articulating concerns about the State’s recent action on the High School Assessments and the unintended consequences for students in the Class of 2009. A draft School Safety and Security at a Glance Report was approved. An administrative appointment was approved and members were appointed to the Special Education Continuous Improvement Team Advisory Committee. Six Board policies were rescinded and pilot courses for non-core courses were approved. National Veterans Awareness Week and American Education Week were recognized.
2008–2009 School Calendar
The Board adopted the calendar for the 2008–2009 school year, with 184 instructional days for students (which includes 4 contingency days) and 193 duty days for teachers, plus 16 hours of unscheduled professional time. A contingency calendar also was approved in the event that the school year is disrupted by emergencies and schools are closed. School will begin on Tuesday, August 26, 2008. The last day for students will be Tuesday, June 16, 2009. In response to community feedback, the Board scheduled an early release day in 2008 on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. The full school calendar is at www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/info/calendars/future/. The Board also voted to write to the Maryland State Department of Education requesting that the Advanced Placement testing schedule be added to the state testing calendar as an aid to local jurisdictions in planning the school year calendar.
The Board approved its Legislative Platform for the 2008 session of the Maryland General Assembly. The platform summarizes the Board’s positions on priority issues that are expected to arise during the session. Major areas addressed by the platform are school construction, education funding, special student populations, the comprehensive master plan, early childhood education, school safety, personnel and retirement, opposition to public funding for private schools, and local school board authority. The platform will be distributed to members of the General Assembly, partner organizations, and the community. It is posted on the Board of Education’s web site at www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/boe.
Updates on High School Assessments
The Board and superintendent expressed concerns about aspects of the Maryland State Board of Education’s recent action to require the Class of 2009 to pass the High School Assessments (HSAs) and the use of the Bridge Plan for Academic Validation as an option for students having difficulty passing one or more of the HSAs. The Board specifically discussed the unintended consequences this action will have on students and the difficulty in trying to operationalize the state board’s concept and use the HSAs as an accountability tool for students in the state of Maryland. The Board voted to send a letter to the state board, the governor, and other leaders expressing a continuing concern about the use of the HSAs as a graduation requirement for the Class of 2009 and their use as an accountability tool.
School Safety Report Update
The Board reviewed and made suggestions for modifications to the prototype of an annual school safety report that is designed to provide a useful, straightforward means to report data related to school safety, as well as link the complex requirements under the law and Board of Education policy governing the collection of data. The Board will continue to review the document design and methods of collecting data. It is anticipated that the School Safety and Security at a Glance Report will be published during the summer of 2008 and will include data from the 2007–2008 school year.
Rescission and Technical Modification of Various Policies
The Board rescinded six policies because they do not rise to the level of policy issues, are already addressed by other policies or the negotiated agreements with the unions, or are repetitive of requirements of Maryland law. The polices are ISE, Summer School Graduation; COA, Visitors to School During the School Day; DJC, Newspaper Advertising; GGA, Duty Hours and Days; CGA, Summer School; and GFB, Temporary Reassignment of Administrative and Supervisory Personnel. In addition, Policy KEA, Political Campaigns and Political Materials, was revised with a non-substantive change to clarify the policy’s intent to allow students to participate in both primary and general elections.
Secondary Pilot Courses
The Board approved a series of non-core curriculum courses developed by school staff through the Office of Curriculum and Instructional Programs. The proposed courses support and extend the Middle School Magnet Consortium, Middle School Reform Initiative, and high school signature, academy, career and technology, and elective programs. The courses were approved either as pilot courses or fully implemented countywide courses or online versions of existing Advanced Placement courses.
The Board approved the following administrative appointment:
Jennifer H. Lowndes, currently instructional specialist, Division of Accelerated and Enriched Instruction, Office of Curriculum and Instructional Programs, as coordinator of special initiatives, Department of Enriched and Innovative Programs.
Appointments to the Special Education Continuous Improvement Team Advisory Committee
The Board appointed the following individuals to the Special Education Continuous Improvement Team Advisory Committee:
Parents of MCPS students with special education needs and community representatives: Laurie Collins, Cheryl Kravitz, Laura Swerdlin, Ricky Sabia, Martin Schwartz, Margaret McLaughlin, Karen Leggett, Yvonne Murrell, Marguerite Colston, and Mark Wong
MCPS school-based staff: Michelle Schultze, Joanne Hoffman, Victoria Raskin, Rosalene Allen, and Travis Wiebe
Higher education representative: Edward Siguel
Board Committee Reports
The Board received reports from four of its committees (Policy, Audit, Ad Hoc Committee on Special Education, and Strategic Planning) concerning their recent activities. The written reports from the Audit and Policy committees are on the Board’s web site and are hyperlinked from the Board’s meeting agenda. The Ad Hoc Committee on Special Education is examining the alignment of general and special education staffing, transitional services for students, and how interventions are being formally and informally evaluated. The Strategic Planning Committee, in line with the Baldrige Report and a commitment to continuous improvement, will be considering a survey of school principals.
New Business Item
A new business item was introduced that asks the superintendent of schools to review and revise the appropriate regulations as necessary to ensure that the leadership of parent organizations not traditionally affiliated with the Parent Teacher Associations are included in Montgomery County Public Schools outreach for input on facility issues. The Board will consider this matter at its next business meeting on December 11, 2007.
In Honor of Veterans
The Board approved a resolution saluting the men and women of the United States Armed Forces and recognizing the observance of National Veterans Awareness Week from November 11 through 17, 2007, as an opportunity to acknowledge and honor those who have served our country.
American Education Week
The Board approved the observance of American Education Week from November 11 through 17, 2007, and the theme of “Great Public Schools: A Basic Right and Our Responsibility.”