Superintendent Recommends Funds for School Improvement Efforts

February 10, 2012
Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Joshua P. Starr is recommending that more than $680,000 be realigned within the FY 2013 budget to support alternative governance plans in two middle schools.

The middle schools—Forest Oak and Neelsville—are in Year 4 of improvement under the federal No Child Left Behind Act and are mandated by the state to develop two-year alternative governance plans that will help the schools improve student performance.

The full governance plans for each school will be shared with the Montgomery County Board of Education in March and submitted to the Maryland State Department of Education in April, as required by state law. However, the Board will approve its FY 2013 Operating Budget request on Tuesday (February 14) and funds to pay for implementation of the alternative governance plan must be included in this budget.

Dr. Starr is also recommending that funds be realigned to implement the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme (MYP) at Montgomery Village Middle School.

“We are committed to using our resources in a way that is efficient and has the biggest impact on teaching and learning,” Dr. Starr said. “I am confident that these initiatives will help create an environment where these students can thrive and grow.”

These initiatives are part of amendments, announced last month, to the Superintendent’s Recommended FY 2013 Operating Budget. As part of those amendments, Dr. Starr said he would seek savings in some areas of the budget and realign those resources to other priority areas. Among the savings, Dr. Starr is reducing stipends for part-time salaries for summer employment and part-time instructional salaries, stipends and substitutes, saving more than $600,000. Dr. Starr is also going to end the administration of the TerraNova 2 test in grade 2 next school year, saving $230,000 annually.

Forest Oak Middle School

Dr. Starr is recommending that a total of $294,701 be realigned within the budget to support school improvement efforts at Forest Oak Middle School. The restructuring plan for Forest Oak Middle will be focused on developing a comprehensive professional development plan for all staff that will increase capacity in several key areas, including higher-order questioning, co-teaching and the effective use of technology. The key components of the plan will be to:

- Build capacity of the instructional leadership team during the summer and throughout the school year
- Provide professional development for the entire staff during the summer
- Embed professional development during common team and department time
- Provide resources for collaborative work beyond the regular workday

In addition, several new courses will be offered at the school next year, including Information and Technology in Grade 6 and the
Lights, Camera, Literacy! sequence of courses, as well as other extended learning opportunities. Forest Oak Middle will also participate in the Achievement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program, which helps students stay focused on college readiness.

Neelsville Middle School

Dr. Starr is recommending that $386,224 be realigned within the budget to support school improvement efforts at Neelsville Middle School. The school’s restructuring plan will be focused on developing the capacity of instructional staff in the areas of rigorous instruction; race and equity; collaboration; and engaging adolescent learners. The key components of the plan will be to:

- Work with instructional teams to have staff develop lessons that result in students working in teams, solving complex problems, thinking strategically, interpreting information, communicating effectively, connecting learning across disciplines, and applying knowledge to real-life situations.
- Implement the Middle Years Programme (MYP) to support the school’s focus on increasing academic rigor and integrating 21st century skills, through research, critical thinking, and studying a second language.
- Provide pre-service days to support the implementation of the professional development plan with all instructional staff.
- Adopt an eight-period day to support professional development and cohort collaboration for instructional staff.

Additional options for extended learning opportunities are under consideration and the
Lights, Camera, Literacy! courses will be implemented at Neelsville Middle, as well.

Additional Budget Realignments

Dr. Starr is also recommending that $116,719 be realigned within the budget so that the Middle Years Programme can be extended to Montgomery Village Middle School.

About half of the students from Neelsville Middle and all students from Montgomery Village Middle are zoned to attend Watkins Mill High School, which has already implemented the International Baccalaureate (IB) Program in grades 11 and 12. In order to prepare all Watkins Mill students for IB, Dr. Starr believes both feeder schools should have the MYP.

By 2015-2016, Dr. Starr anticipates that the MYP will be implemented in grades 9 and 10 at Watkins Mill, allowing students to experience this rigorous program throughout their middle and high school years.

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