Board of Education Meeting: October 13, 2009
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- Approval of the Agenda; American Indian Heritage Month; Montgomery County Public Schools Charity Campaign; National School Bus Safety Week
National School Bus Safety Week: The Board proclaimed that the week of October 19–23 be observed as National School Bus Safety Week in MCPS. The Board and superintendent implemented a Ride by the Rules campaign in FY 2006 to ensure that each student has a safe, pleasant, and secure ride to and from school. The week reinforces the commitment to set a positive tone for each school day to foster student success.
American Indian Heritage Month: The Board declared the month of November 2009 to be observed in MCPS schools as American Indian Heritage Month in honor of the generations of American Indians who have added to the character of our nation and who continue to perform vital roles through society. Montgomery County is home to a thriving American Indian population whose presence has added to the rich cultural mosaic of our community.
MCPS Charity Campaign: The Board designated the period of October 26–November 25, 2009, as the period for participation in the Montgomery County Public Schools Charity Campaign. The four employee representative organizations and the school system have formed a partnership for the school year to provide employees with four organizations through which they can direct their charitable contributions. All employees are encouraged to demonstrate their commitment to addressing the needs of those less fortunate by donating to the campaign.
- Public Comments
- Board/Superintendent Comments
- Update on Enrollment and Capital Improvements Program
The Board of Education discussed an update on enrollment and the Capital Improvements Program (CIP). This year, Montgomery County Public Schools enrollment has increased by about 2,400 students.
This increase follows last year’s increase of more than 1,500 students. The unexpectedly large enrollment increases are particularly affecting elementary schools, which have 385 of the school system’s 436 relocatable classrooms.
The Board received an overview of planning issues facing the school system as the FY 2011–2016 CIP budget is developed. The superintendent’s recommendations for the CIP budget will be released on October 28, 2009.
“Our challenge is to keep up with the pace of building maintenance and modernizations,” said Board President Shirley Brandman. “We are welcoming increasing numbers of students, all of whom are entitled to safe and healthy school buildings.”
- Elementary School Site in the White Flint Sector Plan
The Board voted to request that the County Council include an elementary school site at the White Flint Park North location when it adopts the White Flint Sector Plan, which envisions a community of up to 9,800 residential units that would likely result in more than 400 elementary school students.
When the Montgomery County Planning Board transmitted its draft White Flint Sector Plan in July to the County Council for review and approval, it did not include an elementary school site within the sector plan area, contrary to long-established practice.
The Board resolution was amended to state that the Board was strongly opposed to the draft plan of the County Planning Board due to its failure to include an elementary school site within the sector plan area.
“We thought it was important to send a strong message regarding the need for an elementary school site within the sector plan area,” said Board Member Phil Kauffman. “When the Planning Board is reviewing plans for development, consideration must be given to the school facility needs that will be required by such growth.”
- Consent Items
- Presentation of LEED Gold Level Certification B Francis Scott Key MS Modernization
The Board recognized Francis Scott Key Middle School for attaining LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold Level Certification through the U.S. Green Building Council.
Key was completely modernized and reopened this fall. It is the first middle school in Maryland and the mid-Atlantic region to be LEED certified and the fourth middle school in the nation to obtain LEED Gold Level Certification.
“It was wonderful to hear that our school obtained LEED Gold Level Certification,” said Board Member Chris Barclay. “Although obtaining such a certification may cost more initially, we have a duty to be good environmental stewards whenever possible and the building results in significant savings in the future.”
- Human Resources
- Final Approval of the Comprehensive Master Plan
The Board gave final approval to the state-mandated Comprehensive Master Plan, which responds to requirements of the Bridge to Excellence in Public Schools Act of 2002. The revised MCPS strategic plan, Our Call to Action: Pursuit of Excellence, serves as the basis for updating the Comprehensive Master Plan.
The final submission of the Comprehensive Master Plan to the Maryland State Department of Education is scheduled for October 15, 2009.
- Goal 4: Office of Legislative Oversight: MCPS Career- and Life-Readiness Programs
The Board discussed a report on MCPS career- and life- readiness programs prepared by the Office of Legislative Oversight at the request of the Montgomery County Council. Areas included in the report are Career and Technology Education (CTE), transition services for students with disabilities, Students Engaged in Pathways to Achievement, and career counseling services.
Enrollment in career pathway programs increased by nearly 5 percent of all high school students from FY 2008 to FY 2009 (to more than 18,000 students), and the number of career pathway programs available to students in all 25 high schools increased by 32 percent from FY 2004 to FY 2009.
As part of its commitment to enhancing CTE opportunities and encouraging students to attain college-ready and workforce-ready skills, staff will offer targeted interventions to improve performance, increase awareness by reaching out to students using resources that include social media, and work to improve processes for CTE-specific data collection.
“While we must be committed to making our students college-ready, we must also value and provide choices to students whose talents and passion lie in the trades to pursue academic and trade opportunities simultaneously,” said Board President Shirley Brandman.
“For some of our students, the trades will give them the motivation and engagement to complete the academic foundations for college, and could pay their way through college because of their ability to be immediately employed.”
A project team has been established to review the career pathway programs and facilities at Thomas Edison High School of Technology and update them based on workforce demand.
“We have a problem with the perception that only those students who are not meeting the requirements of an advanced education are going to ‘trade school,’ which is simply not accurate,” said Board Member Judy Docca. “As we heard during the presentation, these courses require a command of academic subjects as well and a lot of students benefit from the engagement that such hands-on courses provide.”
- Renaming the Mark Twain Facility
The Board passed a resolution naming the school building formerly known as Mark Twain as the Blair G. Ewing Center. Stakeholder groups were involved in discussion and recommendation of the name for the facility, including parents of students currently enrolled in alternative programs, the alternative programs leadership team, and representatives from the City of Rockville Department of Recreation and Parks and Avery House.
“I am pleased that the Board of Education recognized Blair Ewing for his many years of dedicated service to the children of Montgomery County by renaming the Mark Twain facility to the Blair G. Ewing Center,” said Board Vice President Patricia O’Neill. “It is a fitting tribute to his tireless advocacy to ensure a high-quality education for all children.”
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