School Year Kicks Off With Highest Enrollment in MCPS History

August 29, 2011
New Buildings and Classrooms Open to Address Booming Enrollment Growth

Updated Elementary Curriculum Debuts in Kindergarten, First and Second Grades

ROCKVILLE, MD – As Superintendent of Schools Joshua P. Starr begins his first school year at the helm of Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS), the school system opens the 2011-2012 school year today with a record-high enrollment of nearly 147,000 students. That’s an increase of roughly 2,500 students over last school year. 
The 2011-2012 school year will also bring a wider rollout of new, engaging lessons, dubbed Curriculum 2.0, for elementary students in kindergarten, first grade and second grade. Curriculum 2.0 allows more time for all subject areas, and focuses on developing students’ creative and critical thinking skills.

“I am excited to start this school year with a stellar staff, a supportive community and excellent students,” said Dr. Starr. “I’m looking forward to meeting our families and staff this fall as we work together to improve teaching and learning across the district. With a record student enrollment, we will continue to face challenges to ensure that we can provide the optimum learning environment for our students.”

Among the 12 major capital projects completed this year to address growth are eight elementary school additions at Brookhaven, Fairland, Fox Chapel, Harmony Hills, Jackson Road, Montgomery Knolls, Rock View, and Whetstone, which will add a total of 105 new classrooms. Students at Farmland Elementary School in Rockville and Cabin John Middle School in Potomac are returning to newly-constructed buildings with expanded classroom space and environmentally-sustainable features.  Renovations at Redland Middle School in Rockville have expanded and improved classroom space, while a new school-based health center opens at Rolling Terrace Elementary School in Takoma Park.

This is the fourth straight year that MCPS will experience a significant enrollment increase. Between the 2007-2008 and 2010-2011 school years, enrollment rose by more than 6,300 students, a number that exceeds the size of many of MCPS’ school clusters.
“I am looking forward to another great school year for our MCPS families. We are excited about the beginning of Dr. Starr’s tenure and are looking forward to building on our past successes to make our high-performing school system even better,” said Christopher S. Barclay, president of the Board of Education. “Our outstanding staff has worked diligently all summer to prepare for the new year and to make sure every classroom is ready for teaching and learning on day one.”

“The recent enrollment increase in MCPS—and projections that an additional 10,000 students will enroll in the school system by the 2016-2017 school year—underscores the importance of investing in the MCPS Capital Improvements Program to accommodate that growth and ensure high-quality schools and facilities for all students,” Mr. Barclay added.
Recent enrollment growth in MCPS is driven by several factors: rising birth rates among county residents, increasing numbers of families choosing MCPS over private schools in the region and a decrease in the number of families moving away from Montgomery County. Growth is strongest in the elementary grades, especially kindergarten.  Sixty percent of the county’s 131 elementary schools will be overcapacity in 2011-2012. Roughly 8,000 students—most of them in elementary grades—will be in 350 portable classrooms.

MCPS has a comprehensive, multi-year plan to address rising enrollment and aging infrastructure that will be updated later this fall by the Board of Education. The budget for capital projects in the current fiscal year is $221.3 million.
MCPS will release its new Capital Improvements Program proposal in October and it is expected to include projects to address the record growth in enrollment.

Curriculum 2.0 Highlights

Engaging students and preparing them for college, careers and a lifetime of learning is the central mission of MCPS.  To support that mission, MCPS is focused on building a stronger foundation at the elementary level through a new curriculum. This fall, all kindergarten, first grade, and many second grade classrooms will be using the upgraded curriculum—known as Curriculum 2.0.  Curriculum 2.0 is based upon new internationally driven standards in math, reading, and writing known as the Common Core State Standards, and includes a renewed focus on teaching the whole child by nurturing skills that build confidence and success. It also engages students beyond reading and math, to spark greater interest in science, social studies, information literacy, art, music, physical education, and health education. Finally, it integrates thinking, reasoning, and creativity for a lifetime of learning and enhances learning by connecting subjects. 


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