Board Elects Officers, Approves Annual Report

December 10, 2008
Board of Education Approves Inauguration Day as a School Holiday

The Montgomery County Board of Education met on Tuesday, December 9, electing a new Board president and vice president for the next year, and approving the designation of Inauguration Day—January 20, 2009—as a school system holiday. The Board also approved the 2008 Annual Report on Our Call to Action: Pursuit of Excellence, discussed the Supporting Services Mentoring Program, and received an update on the Kennedy Cluster Project and recognized December 1–5 as National Inclusive Schools Week.

Election of Officers
Shirley Brandman was unanimously elected president of the Montgomery County Board of Education, on the first ballot, and Patricia O’Neill was elected vice president, also unanimously on the first ballot. Both new officers will serve a one-year term in those roles. Board members expressed appreciation to Nancy Navarro, who served as president of the Board for the past two years. Ms. Brandman said, “It is with great pride and enormous humility that I accept the honor of serving as Board president. Thank you to Ms. (Nancy) Navarro for her dedicated service over these past two years. Now more than ever, my colleagues and I are committed to our children and to our staff to move closer toward achieving the Board’s vision of equity and excellence for the students of our county.” Mrs. O’Neill said, “I am looking forward to serving on the Board through these challenging times, protecting the interests of our students.”

Inauguration Day
The Board voted unanimously to designate Inauguration Day—January 20, 2009—as a Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) holiday. In formally approving the change to the existing 2008–09 school calendar, the Board noted that the designation of Inauguration Day as a holiday would leave MCPS with three contingency days for the current year. The approved Board resolution also noted that all future school calendars should designate Inauguration Day as a system holiday, with appropriate adjustments made to account for emergencies and legally mandated instructional days. “I am very pleased that the Board decided to close the schools on Inauguration Day, not only on January 20, 2009, but from this point forward. Our students and their families can celebrate the inauguration of our country's president,” said Board Member Chris Barclay, who proposed the resolution.

“This is not a partisan moment, this is an American moment.  This election validates the framework created in the United States Constitution to secure the blessings of liberty as set forth in the Declaration of Independence. We will be gathering as a nation this Inauguration Day to celebrate a country that has again moved forward on the path towards truly being one nation with liberty and justice for all, and we believe it is important to provide our students and staff with the opportunity to celebrate this historic moment with their families,” said Board Member Laura Berthiaume.

“I am proud of the number of students who participated in the election process this year, even though many of them could not actually vote. Since we are close to the nation’s capital, closing schools on January 20th allows students to witness the inauguration and to continue their active participation in our democracy,” said Student Member of the Board Quratul-Ann Malik.

2008 Annual Report on Our Call to Action: Pursuit of Excellence
The Board approved the 2008 Annual Report on Our Call to Action: Pursuit of Excellence. The report details the school system’s progress in implementing strategic initiatives, and in creating and maintaining a high-quality workforce. Our Call to Action: Pursuit of Excellence is the district’s strategic plan and guides the work of staff, students, parents and the community. The annual report details the school system’s significant progress toward meeting the identified milestones within each of the five goal areas—Ensure Success for Every Student, Provide an Effective Instructional Program, Strengthen Productive Partnerships for Education, Create a Positive Work Environment in a Self-renewing Organization, and Provide High-quality Business Services that are Essential to the Educational Success of Students. “The Board developed a strategic plan to guide the work of the school system. The Annual Report is an important tool to monitor the progress we are making in achieving the goals in the strategic plan and ensuring high academic achievement for all our students,” said Dr. Judy Docca, Board member and chair of the Board’s Strategic Planning Committee.

Supporting Services Mentoring Program
The Board discussed the Supporting Services Mentoring Program, an important component of the Supporting Services Professional Growth System. The mentoring program, which began this school year, is a professional development opportunity that provides mentors to both new employees and current staff members. The program is expected to enhance MCPS efforts that focus on professional development, recruitment, retention, and creation of a more diverse workforce. “We have a lot of employees who work to support the academic achievement of our students. It is good to see a program that will assist our supporting services staff to further excel in their careers,” said Board Member Phil Kauffman.

Update on the Kennedy Cluster Project
The Board received an update on and discussed the John F. Kennedy High School Cluster Disparities and Performance Project. The Kennedy Cluster Project is a joint effort between MCPS and Montgomery County government, for the purpose of creating a service delivery model for African American students that will accelerate progress already under way to improve academic achievement for these students. Elements of the project are in place at John F. Kennedy High School; Argyle Middle School; and Bel Pre, Georgian Forest and Strathmore elementary schools, including participation in the MCPS Professional Learning Communities Institute at the three elementary schools and professional development opportunities related to institutional racism, equitable classrooms, and high expectations at all five schools. “Now more than ever, given the fiscal climate, we must examine comprehensive ways to redefine service delivery methods. Through collaboration and innovative thinking, we are developing a template to address the academic achievement needs of our students and the well-being of families in the Kennedy Cluster that will serve as a model for the county,” said Board Member Nancy Navarro.

National Inclusive Schools Week
The Board joined with the Urban Special Education Leadership Collaborative and Education Development Center, Inc., in marking the week of December 1–5, 2008, as National Inclusive Schools Week in Montgomery County Public Schools. The resolution recognized the diversity among the school system’s many learners and focused on the advantages of inclusive schools in promoting quality education and better educational outcomes for all students, including students with disabilities.

Montgomery County Board of Education: Ms. Shirley Brandman, president; Mrs. Patricia O’Neill, vice president. Members: Mr. Christopher Barclay, Ms. Laura Berthiaume, Dr. Judy Docca, Mr. Phil Kauffman, Ms. Nancy Navarro, and Ms. Quratul-Ann Malik, student member. Dr. Jerry D. Weast, superintendent and secretary-treasurer. Office of the Board: 301-279-3617. 

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