Board of Education Discusses Enrollment, Bell Times; Approves Comprehensive Master Plan

October 9, 2013
The Montgomery County Board of Education met on Tuesday, October 8, 2013, at the Carver Educational Services Center, 850 Hungerford Drive in Rockville. Among other items, the Board received an update on enrollment and the Capital Improvements Program, gave final approval on the district’s Comprehensive Master Plan, and discussed Superintendent Starr’s recommendation on bell times. The agenda for the meeting, with links to related materials, can be viewed on the Board of Education website. You can also watch video of the meeting by clicking here.

MCPS Enrollment and Capital Improvements Program
The Board received its annual report on the enrollment and demographic trends for Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS). Preliminary figures put MCPS enrollment at more than 151,500 students this school year, a one-year increase of 2,700 students and an increase of more than 14,000 students since 2007. Most of the enrollment increase since 2007 has occurred at elementary schools. Numerous capital projects in the approved Amended Fiscal Year (FY) 2013-2018 Capital Improvements Program (CIP) add substantial amounts of elementary school capacity by 2018, but more will be needed. Additionally, significant increases in middle and high school enrollments are beginning to occur throughout the county and more capacity will be needed at several secondary schools. Superintendent Joshua Starr will address the challenges of increasing enrollment, as well as other school system capital needs, in his recommended FY 2015-2020 CIP that will be released in late October.

Comprehensive Master Plan
The Board of Education gave final approval to the district’s Comprehensive Master Plan. Under the state of Maryland’s Bridge to Excellence in Public Schools Act of 2002, each school district must submit a Comprehensive Master Plan (Master Plan) that links budgetary decisions to school improvement efforts. Bridge to Excellence requires the Maryland State Department of Education to set academic content and student achievement standards and to ensure that schools and students have sufficient resources to meet those standards. By design, the legislation requires school systems to integrate state, federal, and local funding and initiatives into the Master Plan.

View the Comprehensive Master Plan Executive Summary

The Report of the 2013 Bell Times Work Group
The Board of Education received a presentation and engaged in a conversation on the report of the 2013 Bell Times Work Group. In December 2012, a work group was convened to develop options to address high school students’ need for more sleep, and in particular, to consider adjustments to school start times. The Report of the 2013 Bell Times Work Group was submitted to Superintendent Starr in August 2013. The report reflects current research, reports from sleep experts, the efforts of other school districts, as well as previous efforts documented in reports published by MCPS in 1998 and 1999. After reviewing the report, Dr. Starr is recommending that the following changes be considered:
-  Move high school start times 50 minutes later, from 7:25 a.m. to 8:15 a.m. (school ending at 3 p.m.)
-  Move middle school start times 10 minutes earlier, from 7:55 a.m. to 7:45 a.m. (school ending at 2:30 p.m.)
-  Keep elementary school start times as they currently are (8:50 a.m. and 9:15 a.m.), but extend the school day by 30 minutes (school ending at 3:35 p.m. and 4 p.m.)
The Board passed an amended resolution in support of Dr. Starr’s recommendation to pursue further study and analysis for the modified bell schedule.  Thus,
the next phase of the process will be studying the feasibility and impact of changing start times and extending the elementary school day as Dr. Starr has recommended. There will be extensive outreach to the community that will include four public meetings, focus groups, surveys, and broad opportunities to submit input.  A final plan will be presented to the Board in spring 2014.  If there is a determination to move forward with implementing the recommendation, the earliest any changes would occur is the 2015–2016 school year.
Read the Memo (Bell Times Work Group Report included)
Bell Times Work Group Report Website

Other Action: The Board also took action on several items, including: 

Approved preliminary plans for the Brown Station Elementary School modernization project
-Approved changes to the Montgomery County Public Schools Employees’ Pension Plan

Resolutions: The Board unanimously approved the following:

Passed a resolution declaring the month of November to be observed as American Indian Heritage Month, and to celebrate November 29, 2013, as American Indian Heritage Day
-Passed a resolution declaring October 21, 2013 through November 22, 2013 as the period for participation in the Montgomery County Public Schools Employees Charity Campaign
-Passed a resolution declaring October 21-25 as National School Bus Safety Week

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: Mr. Christopher Barclay, president; Mr. Philip Kauffman, vice president. Members: Ms. Shirley Brandman, Dr. Judy Docca, Mr. Michael Durso, Mrs. Patricia O’Neill, Mrs. Rebecca Smondrowski, and Mr. Justin Kim, student member. Dr. Joshua P. Starr, superintendent and secretary-treasurer. Office of the Board: 301-279-3617.

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