Dear Parents, Guardians, Students and Staff:
It is hard to believe that we have less than a month left of the 2019-2020 school year. We have spent eight weeks engaged in virtual learning and, while we have faced many challenges along the way, our students, staff and community have demonstrated tremendous resiliency and patience from the beginning and have actively sought ways to uplift and support one another. I am truly inspired by all of your efforts.
Please know that our staff is hard at work developing a comprehensive plan for the recovery of learning and for the eventual reopening of schools. While there are still many unknowns and questions that will require guidance from the Governor and the Maryland State Department of Education, we want to assure you that we will be prepared to provide enriching instruction, timely supports and resources to all students.
Below are several important updates, including information on Phase III of online learning in MCPS, the Fiscal Year 2021 MCPS Operating Budget, kindergarten registration, retrieving personal items from school buildings and an upcoming virtual town hall meeting.
Our number one priority continues to be the safety and well-being of our children, staff and community. We join the county executive and our health officials in urging our students, families and staff to continue to follow the extended Stay-at-Home order. We must continue to do our part to slow the spread of this deadly disease.
Jack R. Smith, Ph.D.
Superintendent of Schools
Phase III of Online Learning
Phase III of remote learning in MCPS will begin on Monday, May 18, and end on Monday, June 15. During this phase, lessons and instructional activities will continue to be delivered in both live and recorded formats, and teachers will continue with established schedules and processes for engaging students. Social-emotional learning opportunities will continue to be provided for staff and students. Teachers and schools will continue to use available calendar functions to help students stay organized with assignments and check-in schedules, and will make every effort to also provide this information to parents/guardians as they support learning at home. MCPS will continue to provide hard copy instructional packets every Wednesday, which will cover math, English Language Arts and ESOL content. See the full printed materials list for May 13 and May 20 here. These packets will be available for pick up at all of the MCPS meal service locations.
Phase III Highlights for Elementary Students and Families
In an effort to enhance science learning, a staff member from your child’s school will engage students in elementary science resources beginning the week of May 18. The staff member will record the lesson in the event that students are not available at the time of instruction. Schools will be in contact with families about the time of the science lessons. Elementary social studies resources will also be introduced the week of May 18. These activities are intended for families to use for additional enrichment. It is important to note that elementary science and social studies are optional learning opportunities.
Phase III Highlights for Secondary Students and Families
Middle and high school classes will continue with recorded and live instruction and will continue to emphasize the importance of live check-ins, according to the local school schedule. The check-ins are important times for teachers to connect with students, engage students in the learning process, continue instruction, and provide support. Teachers will also be working with students to successfully finish the 4th Marking Period and implement the revised grading policy
for final semester grades.
Grading and Reporting
On May 12, the Montgomery County Board of Education approved a revised grading policy for elementary and secondary students. As part of this change, high school students will be able to earn a letter grade or elect to have a “Pass” as the final second semester grade, on a course-by-course basis.
We are currently developing systems to ensure that students are able to take advantage of a grading option that is to their benefit, and that students/families have the information they need to make an informed decision. More information will be sent next week about how to select a grading option in high school courses, but we want to emphasize that students/families will be provided the flexibility and the time they need to make these decisions.
Students who do not meet the criteria for passing a course in the 4th Marking Period will be issued an “Incomplete” and will be provided with opportunities to earn a passing grade during a summer learning program and/or learning recovery period. More information about the opportunities about summer programs will be shared in the coming weeks.
Academic Eligibility for Extracurricular Activities
The Board of Education voted on May 12 to temporarily waive academic eligibility currently required under Board Policy IQD, Academic Eligibility for Extracurricular Activities. Academic requirements for students’ participation in extracurricular activities will be waived for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year and for the first semester of the 2020-2021 school year.
Retrieval of Personal Items from Schools
MCPS is beginning the process of allowing students and staff to pick up personal belongings and materials. Staff and student safety will be a top priority in this process. Staff using protective equipment will prepare materials for curbside pickup. Students and families will not be allowed to enter the building. This process will be staggered and will extend beyond June 15. Principals, in coordination with central services, will inform their school communities about timing and logistics when their school is ready to begin this process.
Fiscal Year 2021 Budget Outlook
On May 15, the Montgomery County Council reached preliminary agreement on the County’s $5.9 billion Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 Operating Budget and on a $4.4 billion FY21-26 Capital Improvements Program (CIP) to fund construction, infrastructure improvements and community projects for all county agencies, including MCPS. More than half of the County’s operating budget—$2.76 billion—will fundMCPS. This amount will fund our district at the Maintenance of Effort level, which is mandated by the State of Maryland. This represents an increase of $74.9 million, or a 2.8 percent increase, from the FY20 approved budget. However, it is less than what the Board of Education requested on February 10, 2020. This reduction will impact the district’s ability to expand and implement strategic key bodies of work. Read the County Council’s press release here.
The County’s overall $4.4 billion six-year Capital Improvements Program includes a total of $1.74 billion for MCPS, which is $81.5 million less than originally requested by the Board of Education and is $7.3 million below the current approved level. Some items of note in the MCPS CIP include keeping the reopening of Woodward High School and the Northwood High School Addition/Facility Upgrade on schedule and adding major capital project improvements for Burnt Mills Elementary School, Neelsville Middle School, Col. Zadok Magruder High School and Poolesville High School on schedules proposed by the Board of Education. Major capital projects at Woodlin, South Lake and Stonegate elementary schools, and at Damascus and Thomas S. Wootton high schools are also approved to continue in the six-year period. We will continue to work with the Board of Education and the Council to identify much-needed capital project funding going forward.
We acknowledge the tremendous fiscal uncertainty resulting from the COVID-19 global health pandemic and are committed to using funding to maintain the operational and instructional infrastructure of the school system and to keep the focus on excellence and equity. The Board of Education will adopt a final budget in June that will reflect the district’s work to provide a way of offering different learning experiences and protecting student and staff safety in the coming year. Learn more about what this means for our district in this All In blog post.
Kindergarten registration is now open for children who will be 5 years old by September 1, 2020. MCPS’ kindergarten program is widely recognized as among the best in the nation, with students making excellent progress toward the district’s reading and mathematics goals. We believe our youngest learners should receive a rich and well-rounded early learning experience to prepare them to be successful, productive 21st century citizens. MCPS has launched a new online registration/enrollment process to support families who wish to enroll their children. Families can complete the process in three ways:
- Online, starting with this Registration Survey
- Over the phone by calling 240-740-5999
- By paper forms. Complete the Registration Survey or call 240-740-5999 to request forms be mailed to your home.
While State Schools Superintendent Karen Salmon has directed local school districts to make contingency plans for reopening in the fall, we are planning for your children to be with us. If you are uncertain about your plans for the fall, but will likely send your child when school opens, please enroll him or her now. Details on kindergarten orientation, as well as plans for the upcoming school year, will be shared in the coming weeks. Families that have received the registration materials are asked to complete the forms and submit them as soon as possible.
Learn More about the MCPS Kindergarten Program
Enroll Your Child Now
Student Member of the Board of Education Election
The election of the Student Member of the Board (SMOB) will take place on May 20, 2020. The two candidates for the 43rd SMOB are Mr. Nick Asante, a junior at Richard Montgomery High School, and Miss Victoria Kidder, a junior at Col. Zadok Magruder High School. Click here to read the candidate profiles, and watch this video to learn about their positions on key issues. The candidates have also recorded a short video sharing their thoughts on the impact of COVID-19, which can be viewed here. All secondary students will receive an email on May 20 with a link to the ballot.
LGBTQ+ Virtual Town Hall set for May 27
MCPS will host a Pride Town Hall to reconnect with LGBTQ+ students and community members during the COVID-19 crisis. This virtual event will be streamed live at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, May 27, on the MCPS website and the MCPS YouTube channel. During this event, panelists will connect with LGBTQ+ youth and their families and members of the community to:
- Share available resources and supports
- Discuss support and resources available for students, parents and families
- Hold a question-and-answer session with guest organizations
Representatives from several organizations including MCCPTA, CASA Ruby, the Montgomery County Family Justice Center, PFLAG, MoCo Pride Center and the MoCo Pride Student Organization will participate in the event.
Participants can join the webinar anonymously by using an incognito window in Google Chrome or an InPrivate window in Internet Explorer, clicking the meeting link, joining from their browser, and specifying the name and pronouns they’d like to use at the “Join a Meeting” prompt.
Participants can also watch anonymously on YouTube and the MCPS website.
Navigating the College Admissions Process During COVID-19
Parents and students are encouraged to watch this informational talk show about navigating the college admissions process during COVID-19. The program is geared toward high school juniors and their families. Guests on the show, which included high school counselors and college representatives, discussed grading and reporting; the SAT and ACT; Advanced Placement tests; and other college admission and application topics.
2020-2021 MCPS Teacher of the Year
In case you missed it, Sligo Middle School teacher Inge Chichester was named the 2020–2021 MCPS Teacher of the Year during the MCPS Teacher of the Year virtual celebration on May 15. Chichester is the World Studies content specialist at Sligo Middle School. She is a 19-year veteran of MCPS, and will now go on to compete for Maryland Teacher of the Year. You can watch the celebration here.