Board of Education Ratifies Amended Bargaining Agreements

January 14, 2009
Montgomery County Board of Education Ratifies Amended Collective Bargaining Agreements, Reviews Pre-K Programs and Decides Position on Legislation

The Montgomery County Board of Education met on Tuesday, Jan. 13, and, among other actions, approved amended collective bargaining agreements with the school system’s four employee unions to renegotiate salaries—eliminating cost-of-living adjustments for Fiscal Year 2010. The Board also discussed an update on prekindergarten and Head Start programs, received an update on Achievement Steering Committees, decided its position on proposed legislation, approved one new administrative appointment, and designated February as African American History Month.

Amended agreements with employee organizations
The Board of Education approved amended agreements with the Montgomery County Association of Administrative and Supervisory Personnel, Montgomery County Business and Operations Administrators, Montgomery County Education Association, and SEIU Local 500 concerning salaries. Through the amended agreements, which had been approved by members of all four unions prior to the Jan. 13 Board meeting, MCPS staff agreed to forgo cost-of-living salary adjustments that were previously negotiated for Fiscal Year 2010, saving a projected $89 million. Board President Shirley Brandman said, "Tough financial times affect everyone, so I would like to especially thank our employees for the sacrifice they have made in renegotiating the labor agreements. Once again, our staff members have demonstrated the commitment they have to the education of our children."

Update on prekindergarten
The Board discussed Montgomery County Public Schools’ (MCPS) locally funded prekindergarten and federally funded Head Start programs, which offer high-quality early learning experiences and comprehensive services to 3- and 4-year-old children from income-eligible families. Combined, the two programs serve 2,549 students in 128 classes located in 59 elementary schools. The Bridge to Excellence in Public Schools Act of 2002 mandates that a prekindergarten experience be provided upon parental request, for all students eligible for Free and Reduced-price Meals Service (FARMS).

To ensure compliance with this mandate during the 2008–2009 school year, some prekindergarten classes have exceeded the state-recommended class size guideline of 20 students per class. A future concern is that compliance with the act may increase the number of students in pre-kindergarten classes as more parents of FARMS-eligible students access their children’s right to a free public prekindergarten experience. The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) has recommended universal preschool for all 4-year-old children beginning in 2014. In the discussion, Board members also were apprised of the status of a current Montgomery County Council-convened Universal Preschool Implementation Work Group. That group will conclude its work in March, followed by the transmission of a final report. The work group is co-chaired by Janine Bacquie, director of MCPS’ Division of Early Childhood Programs and Services.

Board Member Nancy Navarro said, "We have known that high-quality preschool programs have positive and far-reaching effects on the academic achievement of students. We applaud how the County Council, MCPS, and other agencies have come together to create an implementation plan that will best address the educational needs of our youngest children in developmentally appropriate ways."

Legislation: MCPS Funding Accountability and Transparency Act
The Board reviewed legislation that would require the Montgomery County Board of Education to develop and operate a website for users to search and view summary information on payments made to vendors in aggregated amounts of $10,000 or more. The Board voted to support the legislation contingent upon funding from the State and with a change in the reporting amount to $25,000 to be consistent with COMAR. Board Vice President Pat O’Neill said, “The Board of Education will focus attention on Annapolis for the next 90 days. We will keep a watchful eye on protecting the resources we are due to ensure we are able to provide the educational programs and services our students deserve. We will stand up against unfunded mandates that force us to divert precious resources from classrooms.”

Ensuring success for every student: Achievement Steering Committees
The Board discussed the Achievement Steering Committee (ASC) process, in which stakeholders collaborate with schools identified for Year 2 of School Improvement or Corrective Action, based on the results of the Maryland School Assessment or High School Assessment. The first ASC—involving collaboration by schools, the central office and the community—took place at Highland Elementary School in the 2004–2005 school year. Highland’s school performance has come full circle since that time, as demonstrated by its having been named in recent weeks as a Maryland Blue Ribbon School for its exemplary levels of student achievement.

Since the creation of the ASC process, five participating schools have exited school improvement status and eight schools achieved Adequate Yearly Progress, making them eligible to exit. Because ASC members from MCPS central services units often serve on multiple teams, a forum for sharing best practices among schools has been established. Community superintendents and directors of school performance also share these strategies as they provide support to the schools in their clusters.

Board Member Chris Barclay said, "Achievement Steering Committees are another example of how MCPS works toward eliminating the achievement gap. They also demonstrate how the high expectations, hard work, and dedication of our staff are essential to ensuring that all students perform to their utmost potential.”

Principal Appointment
The Board approved the appointment of Kimberly B. Bosnic, principal of Bannockburn Elementary School, as principal of Clarksburg Elementary School #8. The new school, which has not yet been named, is scheduled for opening at the beginning of the 2009–2010 school year.

FY 2009 supplemental appropriation to retrofit buses with emission reduction devices
The Board authorized the superintendent of schools to receive and expend, subject to County Council approval, an FY 2009 supplemental appropriation of $699,501 from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to retrofit 72 buses with exhaust enhancements.

African American History Month
The Board and superintendent declared February 2009 as African American History Month in MCPS and encouraged staff, students, parents, and the community to actively honor the contributions of African Americans and to enhance the awareness of the impact of attitudes and expectations on the achievement of African American students. Dr. Judy Docca, Board of Education member, said, “African American History Month does give us the opportunity to reflect on the persistent rise of African Americans and the contributions of African Americans to the greatness of the United States throughout its history. It also provides a specific time to review the strong cultural history and customs brought here from African elements, which are evident even today in our families and communities.”

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.

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 county-wide but run at-large or from the Board district in which they reside.

<<Back to browse