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Board of Education Discusses Recovery of Education; Receives Update on Focused Interventions; Discusses Recommended Positions on Items of Legislation; Approves Use of Funding for Distance Learning Hubs; and Takes Action on Board Policy ACA
The Montgomery County Board of Education (Board) conducted a virtual business meeting on Thursday, January 28, 2021. During the meeting, the Board received an update on Montgomery County Public Schools’ (MCPS) plan for the return of students to in-person instruction; received an update on focused interventions for struggling students; discussed recommended positions on items of legislation; approved the use of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act funds for distance learning hubs; and took tentative action on Board Policy ACA.
The agenda for the meeting, with links to related materials, can be viewed on the Board of Education website.
Watch the recording of the January 28, 2021, meeting.
Recovery of Education
The Board received an update and held a discussion on MCPS’ plan for the return of students to in-person instruction. MCPS staff provided an update on current health conditions in the county, vaccination plans for MCPS staff and ongoing work to ensure school buildings are ready for the return of students and staff. No action was planned or taken regarding the reopening of schools during this discussion.
The Board also discussed Governor Larry Hogan’s updated guidance on the reopening of schools. Superintendent Jack R. Smith shared with the Board that MCPS is exploring bringing back groups of students receiving special education services and those in specific Career Technology Education (CTE) programs by March 1, 2021. MCPS will present more information on this plan to the Board on February 9, 2021. MCPS also is proceeding with its plan for the phased-return of additional student groups beginning March 15.
The Board will meet again February 9 to vote on the proposed March 1 start date.
View the PowerPoint Presentation
The Board received an update and held a discussion on focused interventions that support the academic achievement of struggling students. MCPS staff shared details of a comprehensive implementation plan with culturally-relevant interventions to support the academic achievement of students with a GPA of 2.0 or below and/or a history of disciplinary consequences. This ongoing work will include systemwide professional learning, direct support to schools and offices, and greater use of restorative justice practices.
Tentative Action, Policy ACA, Nondiscrimination, Equity, and Cultural Proficiency
The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) requires every Maryland school system to develop an educational equity policy with the goal of providing educational equity to all students. Draft amendments to existing Board of Education Policy ACA, Nondiscrimination, Equity, and Cultural Proficiency, have been developed to update policy language in alignment with newly issued Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR) 13A.01.06.
The Board’s Policy Management Committee (Committee) reviewed Policy ACA, Nondiscrimination, Equity, and Cultural Proficiency, in response to the October 27, 2020, Board of Education resolution requesting that the Committee develop language to address prohibition of symbols perceived to promote hatred, intimidation, or harassment (Resolution No. 481-20). Additional draft language has been proposed to reflect the Board’s commitment to antiracism as evidenced by the Board’s action on November 10, 2020, to conduct an antiracism system audit of the impact of Montgomery County Public Schools’ systems, practices, and policies on access, opportunities, and equitable outcomes for every student’s academic and social emotional well-being (Resolution 496-20). The Board voted to tentatively approve Policy ACA and directed that the draft policy be sent out for public comment.
Read the Memorandum to the Board
Distance Learning Hubs
The Board voted to approve the use of $1,800,000 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act funds, allocated by the state of Maryland, to partner with the Montgomery County Council to continue to support student tutoring. These funds will allow the Children’s Opportunity Fund to provide funding for community organizations that have developed distance learning hubs to assist students and families during the 2020–2021 school year. In fall 2020, members of the Montgomery County community shared that more support should be provided to students who are most vulnerable, especially those for whom the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic are particularly acute. Many of these students lack the appropriate supports in the home, which prevents them from having the opportunity to access online instruction in a learning environment that is conducive for successful teaching and learning. MCPS and the Montgomery County Council provided funding to support organized distance learning hubs created by the Children’s Opportunity Fund, in collaboration with community organizations such as the Black and Brown Coalition for Educational Equity and Excellence; Identity, Inc.; and the National Association for Advancement of Colored People’s Parents’ Council.
Read the memorandum to the Board
Positions on Educational Legislation
The Board discussed items of legislation that will be considered by the Maryland General Assembly during the 2021 Maryland legislative session that could impact MCPS. The bills have been analyzed to determine any impact on MCPS, as well as whether or not they are consistent with the legislative annual priorities that were adopted by the Board at its November 10, 2020, Board business meeting.
Read the Memorandum to the Board
Facilities and Construction
The Board approved the preliminary plans for the Burnt Mills Elementary School and Poolesville High School major capital projects.
The Board approved a resolution declaring the month of February 2021 to be observed as African American History Month.
The Board approved a resolution proclaiming Feb. 1–5, 2021, as National School Counseling Week in MCPS.
The Board of Education is scheduled to hold its next business meeting on Tuesday, February 9, 2021. The virtual format of this meeting will continue, given the current COVID-19 crisis. The agenda is subject to change. Please check the Board of Education website and meeting calendar for further information.
About the Board of Education
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.
Montgomery County Board of Education: Ms. Brenda Wolff, president; Ms. Karla Silvestre, vice president. Members: Dr. Judith Docca, Mrs. Shebra L. Evans, Ms. Lynne Harris, Mrs. Patricia O’Neill, Mrs. Rebecca Smondrowski, and Mr. Nicholas Asante, student member. Dr. Jack R. Smith, superintendent of schools and secretary-treasurer. Office of the Board: 240-740-3030.
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