Board of Education Discusses Alternative Programs; Receives Update on Naval Support Activity Bethesda School Assignment and Discusses Positions on Legislation

February 25, 2014
The Montgomery County Board of Education met on Monday, February 24, 2014, at the Carver Educational Services Center, 850 Hungerford Drive in Rockville. Among other items, the Board held a discussion on the redesign of Alternative Programs in Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS); received an update on the elementary school assignment of the Naval Support Activity Bethesda area and discussed its position on legislative issues. The agenda for the meeting, with links to related materials, can be viewed on the Board of Education website. You can also watch the video of the meeting by clicking here.

Redesign of Alternative Programs in MCPS
The Board of Education received an update and held a discussion on how Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) is planning to redesign Alternative Programs. In 2012, the Board of Education and Superintendent Joshua P. Starr began the process for a redesign of Alternative Programs in the district. A new leadership team was put in place to develop and implement a strategic redesign, vision and mission for Alternative Programs. The team also is working with a steering committee, which includes representatives from community organizations, public agencies, and local businesses, to coordinate therapeutic wrap-around service for these Alternative Programs students and their families.  

In order to ensure that academic performance is not predictable by race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status, the redesigned Alternative Programs model will provide specific supports and interventions to meet the needs of this student population so that they may achieve success. The new Alternative Programs model will provide focus on three core components:

Personalized Learning Plans: Each student will have a personalized learning plan that reflects his or her individual needs, capabilities and learning styles. These plans will include measurable goals and criteria for success, will connect students to school and community resources, and will be monitored by a student support team.
Pathways for Learning: Students will be provided a variety of dynamic learning experiences that will include inquiry-based instruction and experiential learning. Students will be provided opportunities for online learning, electives, acceleration, flexible scheduling, internships, and credit recovery.
A Caring, Nurturing Environment: The redesigned Alternative Programs will focus on the providing comprehensive, therapeutic, and wrap-around services for students and their families. This includes meeting social and emotional needs, addressing substance abuse issues, and other barriers to success.
Staff is preparing to implement the redesign of Alternative Programs in the 2014-2015 school year. MCPS is seeking to attract caring, dedicated, skilled teachers to assist in the implementation.

Read the Board memo

Naval Support Activity Bethesda School Assignment
The Board received an update and held a discussion on the elementary school assignment of the Naval Support Activity Bethesda area (NSAB). Last November, the Board authorized a review of the elementary school assignment of the NSAB—also referred to as the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Families in the Wounded Warriors Program reside at the NSAB while loved ones are in rehabilitation following combat. NSAB currently is assigned to Rosemary Hills Elementary School for Grades K—2 and North Chevy Chase Elementary School for Grades 3—6. A School Assignment Advisory Committee reviewed the assignment in December 2013 and January 2014 and submitted a report to the Board. Superintendent Starr is recommending the assignment of the NSAB to Bethesda Elementary School. Children residing at NSAB have been attending Bethesda Elementary School for many years and there is concern that disrupting this assignment would present a hardship for these families. A public hearing on this recommendation will be held on March 11, 2014, at 10 a.m., with a final vote expected on March 24, 2014.

Read the Board memo
Sign up to testify at the hearing

Positions on Education Legislation
The Board discussed several pieces of legislation that are currently being considered by the Maryland General Assembly. Among the legislation the Board supports are: a bill that would require all students to have certain access to digital technology in the classroom on or before a certain school year; a bill that would prohibit an individual from smoking a tobacco product at any time on public school property; a bill that establishes a Maryland Seal of Biliteracy Program to recognize public high school graduates who attain proficiency in speaking, reading or writing one or more languages in addition to English. The Board opposed other pieces of legislation, including those that would require each county board of education to establish certain qualifications for substitute teachers employed by a county board.

Read the Board positions

Resolution: The Board approved the following resolutions:

A resolution declaring the month of March 2014 as Women’s History Month
-A resolution recognizing educators who earned certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards in 2013

Future Meetings

The Board’s Strategic Planning Committee will meet on Thursday, Feb. 27 at 2 p.m. The Fiscal Management Committee will meet on Monday, March 10 at 10 a.m. The Board’s next regular business meeting will be held Tuesday, March 11 with public items scheduled to begin at 10 a.m.

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. Philip Kauffman, president; Mrs. Patricia O’Neill, vice president. Members: Mr. Christopher Barclay, Ms. Shirley Brandman, Dr. Judy Docca, Mr. Michael Durso, 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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