Board Also Discusses Parent Engagement Programs, Takes Tentative Action on High School Education Policy
The Montgomery County Board of Education met on Monday, March 22, and, among other items, approved a resolution supporting a waiver of the state Maintenance of Effort provision for Fiscal Year 2011, allowing the county to fund education at a lower per-student level than it does this year. The Board also discussed the MCPS Parent Academy and Parent Advisory Council, two programs that promote parent engagement; and took tentative action on Policy IED, Framework and Structure of High School Education. The Board passed resolutions recognizing April as the Month of the Young Child, Arab American Heritage Month, and National Autism Awareness Month; and the week of April 18–24 as National Student Leadership Week.
Maintenance of Effort Waiver
The Board unanimously passed a resolution supporting Montgomery County’s request for a waiver of Maintenance of Effort (MOE) requirements for FY 2011. The waiver, if approved by the state, would allow MCPS to receive full state funding even though the county will have to fund education at a lower per-student level in FY 2011. Board members said the waiver was an unprecedented necessity given the economic challenges facing the county. The Board of Education reiterated that difficult cuts will already have to be made this year in order to meet the budget reductions proposed by the County Executive, and the MOE waiver will make sure the budget hole does not get any deeper by preventing the loss of state aid. The Board said they were looking forward to working collaboratively with the County Executive and County Council on the FY 2011 budget, but emphasized that any cuts beyond the County Executive’s recommendation could seriously damage the academic progress MCPS students are making in all areas. “Given the extraordinary fiscal climate, we are willing to collaborate with the County Executive in seeking a maintenance of effort waiver,” said Board President Pat O’Neill. “However, we cannot take one more penny in cuts or absorb a penalty if the waiver is declined. Any more budget cuts would be devastating to our ability to provide for our students’ academic achievement.”
MCPS Parent Academy and Parent Advisory Council
The Board discussed a presentation on the MCPS Parent Academy and Parent Advisory Council, two programs coordinated by the Office of Communications and Family Outreach (OCFO). The school system is committed to promoting meaningful family partnerships as an essential component of student success. The two programs are integral to the school system’s efforts to increase student achievement and remove barriers to parent engagement. The Parent Academy offers free parent workshops to empower parents as partners in their children’s education. The Parent Advisory Council works with OCFO to provide input on ways to improve communication and parent engagement and provides parent advocacy trainings and feedback on MCPS initiatives and programs. “I think the Office of Communications and Family Outreach is doing a fabulous job of reaching out to so many different facets of our county and engaging terrific parents as leaders,” said Dr. Judy Docca, Chair of the Board’s Communication and Public Engagement Committee. “I am very impressed by the work that is being accomplished with our parents for the benefit our students.”
Tentative Action on Policy IED, Framework and Structure of High School Education
The Board of Education tentatively approved the updated Policy IED, Framework and Structure of High School Education. The policy sets forth guidelines to staff and community for the organization of high schools and delivery of instructional programs that set high expectations for academic achievement for all students. The policy was updated to align with recent revisions to related policies on early childhood/elementary education and middle school education. The policy will be sent out for public comment. Shirley Brandman, Chair of the Board’s Policy Committee said, “Policy IED is designed to implement our strategic plan’s vision and goals for high schools. Even as we strive to provide engaging instruction that prepares all students for postsecondary education and the workplace we are also looking to ensure that the high school environment is supportive of the social, emotional, and physical development of our adolescents. We welcome and encourage community input in the development of this policy.”
Month of the Young Child
The Board passed a resolution supporting April 2010 as the Month of the Young Child in Montgomery County Public Schools to focus public attention on young children and their families. The Board also endorsed a joint proclamation of the month, to be held April l4 at CentroNia Preschool in Takoma Park, by MCPS; the Board of Education; the Montgomery County Executive; the Montgomery County Council; the Montgomery County Collaboration Council for Children, Youth, and Families; and early childhood stakeholders.
Arab American Heritage Month
On behalf of the superintendent, staff, students and parents, the Board declared April 2010 to be observed as Arab American Heritage Month. The month recognizes the contributions Arab Americans have made to all areas of American life, including politics, law, education, medicine, science, business, family life, community services, and the arts.
National Autism Awareness Month
April has been designated National Autism Awareness month by the Autism Society of America. Autism, which occurs in 1 of every 91 births, is a neurodevelopmental disability resulting in challenges to cognitive, social, and language development. The Board approved a resolution supporting and applauding the energy and effort of staff, family and community members who seek success for MCPS students with autism spectrum disorders.
National Student Leadership Week
The Board joined with the superintendent of schools in recognizing the week of April 18–24 as National Student Leadership Week in MCPS. The Board commended student leaders for their efforts and achievements on behalf of MCPS and urged citizens to seek opportunities to recognize students leaders and support their training and activities as they prepare for future leadership roles.
Items of Legislation
The Board discussed and took positions on a range of proposed state legislation that would affect Montgomery County Public Schools. Areas of proposed legislation included human resources; reporting; student athletics, curriculum, and graduation; transportation; and other areas.
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Montgomery County Board of Education: Mrs. Patricia O’Neill, president; Mr. Christopher Barclay, vice president. Members: Ms. Laura Berthiaume, Ms. Shirley Brandman, Dr. Judy Docca, Mr. Michael Durso, Mr. Phil Kauffman, and Mr. Timothy Hwang, student member. Dr. Jerry D. Weast, superintendent and secretary-treasurer. Office of the Board: 301-279-3617.
The Montgomery County Board of Education is the official educational policymaking body in the county. The Board is responsible for the direction and operation of the public school system. The Board consists of seven county residents elected by voters for a four-year term and a student elected by secondary school students for a one-year term. Board members are elected countywide but run at-large or from the Board district in which they reside.