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Board of Education Discusses Security Programs and Cybersafety

June 10, 2009
Board of Education Adopts FY 2010 Operating Budget, Discusses Safety/Security and CyberSafety


The Montgomery County Board of Education met on Tuesday, June 9, and, among other items, adopted the final FY 2010 Operating Budget for Montgomery County Public Schools and discussed issues related to school system safety and security, and cybersafety. The Board also appointed two administrators and approved appointments to the Ethics Panel and the Advisory Committee on Family Life and Human Development. In addition, the Board recognized Distinguished Hispanic Scholars and recipients of Leadership Montgomery Youth Community Service Leadership Awards.

Final Adoption of the FY 2010 Operating Budget
The Montgomery County Board of Education unanimously approved a final $2.2 billion Fiscal Year 2010 Operating Budget for Montgomery County Public Schools that will hold the line next year on average class sizes and sustain key academic initiatives, due in large part to the willingness of employees to forgo $89 million in cost-of-living adjustments.

“This has been an incredibly challenging and unpredictable year to prepare a budget,” said Shirley Brandman, president of the Board of Education. “We faced our worst economic crisis in decades, absorbed a larger than expected increase in student enrollment, and experienced some of the greatest uncertainty ever, in terms of the amount of state and local funding we would be receiving. We had to make difficult cuts, but in the end, I believe we emerged with a solid budget that will enable us to continue to have success with our academic reform efforts.” Additional details about the approved FY 2010 Operating Budget are available in a separate announcement on the MCPS website: www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org.


Proposal for Pilot Program to Allow Portable Communication Devices During Lunch Periods
The Board passed a resolution requesting that the superintendent conduct a pilot program in two or three high schools next year, to allow students to use portable communication devices during their designated lunch periods. Also, as part of the approved resolution, a multistakeholder task force will be formed to evaluate the results of the pilot program and make a recommendation to the superintendent and the Board, regarding whether the current regulation governing portable communication devices should be revised.

“Technology has changed the way that students and families communicate with one another,” said Quratul-Ann Malik, student member of the Board. “Although I believe it is better for high school students to have a designated time during the day to use their cell phones, I thought it was also important to address the concerns raised by administrators about changing the current regulation. A pilot program is a good way to evaluate this proposal before seeking full implementation.”

Safety and Security Update
The Board received an update from the Department of School Safety and Security, including information about the functions, day-to-day operations, goals, and challenges of the department and how it works to ensure safety in schools.

The department is being restructured at the start of the 2009–2010 school year, with the intention of establishing clear standards and expectations for security and for obtaining more consistency across the school district. A component of the restructuring plan is the establishment of a rapid deployment team, consisting of school-based security staff, to provide additional security assistance at elementary and secondary schools during a crisis. The department also has developed and implemented a comprehensive training program for security team members and school system support staff. Administrative staff and school staff designated as onsite emergency team members attend a four-hour training session on crisis preparedness.

The department is preparing for the second year of its six-year Capital Improvement Program initiative to improve the security infrastructure of schools. To date, 26 elementary and 13 middle schools have received visitor management systems, and an additional 38 schools are scheduled to receive them during the next school year. "As we continue to use technology to assist us in improving the safety of our schools, we must remember that building relationships with our students is crucial to this endeavor as well," said Pat O’Neill, vice president of the Board of Education. “Students must have relationships with staff whom they trust so that they can feel comfortable making that trusted adult aware of rumors or potential problems in school.”

CyberSafety Update
Internet safety is a growing concern. The Board received an update and discussed a comprehensive approach to cybersafety necessary to address this community issue. Through the CyberSafety Project, Montgomery County Public Schools, the Montgomery County Police Department, and the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office are working collaboratively to educate children about the Internet, protect children, arrest violators, and prosecute criminals. School system officials were joined by Montgomery County Police Chief J. Thomas Manger and Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy for the presentation to the Board.

“We have entered into an incredibly effective partnership with the Police Department and the State’s Attorney’s Office to educate our students by giving them the information necessary to navigate the Internet safely," said Shirley Brandman, president of the Board of Education. However, two key lessons we have learned are that the most effective way to protect children is to keep talking to them and that parents, who have the most influence over their children, are crucial partners in this effort.”

MCPS supports Internet safety by using technology protection measures to examine the content of Internet sites and block inappropriate content. Information and resources—including a brochure available in six languages and a parent resource page—are available on the MCPS cybersafety website www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/info/cybersafety.

Administrative Appointments
The Board approved the appointment of two MCPS administrators:

Charlotte W. Boucher, currently principal, Eastern Middle School, as principal, John Poole Middle School
Eric A. Davis, currently acting director, Department of Family and Community Partnerships, as director, Department of Family and Community Partnerships

Appointments to the Ethics Panel
The Board appointed three new members to fill vacancies on the five-member Ethics Panel. The following individuals were appointed to serve three-year terms on the Ethics Panel, effective July 1: Holli Beckerman Jaffe, Arleas Upton Kea and Donald G. Zauderer.

Appointment to the Advisory Committee on Family Life and Human Development
The Board approved a resolution that the Citizens Advisory Committee on Family Life and Human Development be composed of 15 members, all of whom must be residents of Montgomery County who did not serve on the committee prior to July 27, 2005, including two students. All 15 members will serve as individuals. The Board appointed 15 individuals to the committee and named Carol Plotsky as chair and Elinor Walker as vice chair.

Recognition of Distinguished Hispanic Scholars
The Board recognized the 24 outstanding Hispanic American students who were honored by the Hispanic Employees Association of Montgomery County Public Schools for their accomplishments and involvement in schools and communities. The organization awarded $3,500 in educational scholarships and $1,900 in gift certificate awards.

Recognition of Leadership Montgomery Youth Community Service Leadership Awards
The Board congratulated this year’s Leadership Montgomery Youth Community Service Leadership Award recipients for their outstanding demonstration of leadership in community service. The awards honor students who earn a minimum of 260 hours of school-accredited service by completion of their junior year in high school and who exercise their leadership to enhance their schools and communities. The Board expressed its appreciation to Leadership Montgomery and to Shulman, Rogers, Gandal, Pordy and Ecker, P.A., sponsor of the awards since 1997. Each recipient received a $1,000 award.

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