Board of Education Takes Action on Policies; Receives Update on Secondary Schools English for Speakers of Other Languages; Offers New Business Items on Driver’s Education and Respect for Religious Observance; and Discusses the School Year Calendar

November 15, 2019

The Montgomery County Board of Education (Board) met on Tuesday, November 12, 2019, at Carver Educational Services Center, 850 Hungerford Drive in Rockville. During the meeting, the Board took action on several policies; received an update on the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) secondary schools English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) program; held a discussion on the 2020–2021 school year calendar; and approved pilot courses. The agenda for the meeting, with links to related materials, can be viewed on the Board of Education website.

Actions on Board Policies

The Board held a discussion and took tentative action on the following policies: Policy IGS, Educational Technology; Policy BOA, Legal Services; and Policy JEE, Student Transfers. The Board held a discussion and took final action on Policy IDA, School Year Calendar.   

Policy IGS, Educational Technology

The Board held a discussion and took tentative action on Policy IGS, Educational Technology. The Board’s Policy Management Committee reviewed the policy and proposed amendments that set forth guiding principles for the integration of technology resources in support of teaching and learning, as well as the essential operational functions of MCPS. Last amended in 1993, draft Policy IGS reaffirms the Board’s commitment to equitable access and opportunity for all students and staff to use technology to communicate, collaborate, create and innovate safely and responsibly in support of teaching and learning.

The proposed amendments in the Committee Recommended Draft (Attachment 2) provide updated principles to guide the integration of technology resources to support teaching, learning, and operations: technology is an integrated part of the teaching and learning process that supports curricular goals; staff and students use technology resources capably, actively, and responsibly; technology supports students in meeting diverse learning needs and pursuing a range of interests; MCPS provides a comprehensive and functional technology infrastructure to support instruction and operations; and MCPS will engage with multiple stakeholders to shape, advance, and accelerate the Board vision for empowered learning with educational technology, digital content, and learning opportunities to meet the diverse needs and range of interests of all learners.

The draft policy will now be sent out for public comment. 

Policy BOA, Legal Services
The Board held a discussion and took tentative action on Policy BOA, Legal Services. Last amended in 2009, draft Policy BOA, Legal Services, reaffirms the right of the Board of Education to retain attorneys for advice and representation in legal matters and sets forth a comprehensive plan for the efficient and effective management of legal services.

Proposed amendments emphasize the importance of proactive legal-problem solving, and affirm collaborative dispute resolution and strategic decision making to promote equity and academic excellence for all students. Draft Policy BOA, Legal Services, further reflects that, in consultation with the Board, the superintendent of schools, and other administrators, the general counsel is responsible for overall management of legal services. The superintendent of schools and the general counsel shall consult with the Board regarding settlement of legal claims with significant budgetary or programmatic implications.

The draft policy will now be sent out for public comment. 

Policy JEE, Student Transfers

The Board held a discussion and took tentative action on Policy JEE, Student Transfers. The policy management committee reviewed the policy and proposed amendments to address unique hardships: medical, emotional, or social; children of staff members; academic transfers; and, middle school articulation.

On January 8, 2019, the Board received a presentation from staff on the topic of student transfers, which included an overview of: Board Policy JEE and MCPS Regulation JEE-RA, Student Transfers and Administrative Placements; selected opinions of the Maryland State Board of Education regarding student transfers; student transfer policies from nine neighboring jurisdictions; student transfer data for school years 2015–2016, 2016–2017, and 2017–2018; and student transfer requests sorted by reason code for school year 2018–2019.

The draft policy has been sent for public comment.

Policy IDA, School Year Calendar

The Board received an update and held a discussion on Policy IDA, School Year Calendar. On September 12, 2019, staff provided the Committee with a summary of three possible calendar scenarios, and also proposed draft language to amend Policy IDA, School Year Calendar, to permit MCPS to open schools on Inauguration Day. On October 8, 2019, the Board considered a draft amendment to Policy IDA to permit, rather than require, the district to close on Inauguration Day upon consideration of other factors impacting the school calendar during the year of an Inauguration such as the first and last day of school, the day of the week for the Inauguration, and other mandated holidays during the school year. The policy public comment period for feedback on draft amendments to Policy IDA ended on November 8, 2019 and 33 comments were received.  The Board took final action on Policy IDA to amend the policy as proposed by the Committee.

See the draft policy.

2020–2021 School Year Calendar Update

The Board received an update on the development of the 2020–2021 School Year Calendar. Following the Board’s October 8, 2019, meeting, staff worked to develop three draft scenarios for both the traditional and innovative school year calendars that reflect the discussion and direction of the Board during that meeting.

On Tuesday, October 15, 2019, the draft scenarios were posted to the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) 2020–2021 School Year Calendar web page and information about the calendar parameters and time frame for review were included. The web page also includes a brief survey to receive input and feedback both on specific questions and more general comments. During the discussion, staff presented an overview of the feedback received to date regarding the 2020–2021 school year calendar scenarios. For the traditional school year, all of the draft scenarios:

• Have 182 instructional days;

• Have a full Spring Break—six non-instructional days that encompass two weekends;

• Have a full Professional Development day for planning and grading at the end of each quarter;

• Have two additional Professional Development days scheduled within the school year; and

• Have possible make-up days both during the school year and extending the school year.

The Innovative School Year Calendar draft scenarios have been updated to reflect these traditional school year calendar scenarios with adjustments for the extended school year. The members of the Innovative School Implementation Group will work with the school leadership, staff, and families at Arcola and Roscoe R. Nix elementary schools to refine the educational and operational elements of the Innovative School Year within each scenario. These schools also will have a parallel process to solicit and receive feedback and input from their communities.

Both calendars will come before the Board for final approval on December 3.

Read the memorandum to the Board

Secondary Schools English for Speakers of Other Languages Update

The Board received an update on the secondary schools ESOL program. MCPS has the largest ESOL population in the State of Maryland with a current pre-K–Grade 12 enrollment of 29,394 English Learners (ELs) as of October 28, 2019. Of these students, there currently are 4,212 ELs enrolled in the ESOL program at the middle school level and 5,798 EL students enrolled in the ESOL program at the high school level. Staff in the Office of Curriculum and Instructional Programs (OCIP) is committed to improving academic outcomes for ELs at the secondary school level by focusing on three strategic goals: increasing the graduation rates of ELs; enrolling and supporting the academic success in grade-level mainstream courses; and providing high quality English Language Development (ELD) instruction to ensure that ELs develop higher levels of proficiency in academic English, aligned to the Maryland College and Career Readiness Standards to positively impact students’ success in school and become college and career ready.

To enhance the learning experiences and access for ELs, OCIP is exploring various configurations for implementing a more collaborative ESOL instructional model to ensure that ELs have more access to grade-level courses with more integrated ELD supports in the classroom, especially at the advanced proficiency levels, increasing the likelihood of academic success in literacy, math, and beyond. It should be noted that these efforts are intended to be a whole school effort to increase the collaboration, access to rigor, and professional learning opportunities for all leaders and teachers that help to shape the academic success of ELs at their schools. Staff in OCIP, in collaboration with staff in other central services offices, teacher work groups, associations, and communities is developing a three-year plan to reform secondary school ESOL instructional programming. The plan will align the collaborative work necessary to support the three strategic goals around graduation, instruction, and effective ELD instruction.

Read the memorandum to the Board

Approval of Pilot Courses

In accordance with Board Policy IFA, Curriculum, and the accompanying MCPS Regulation, IFA-RA, Curriculum, the Board reviewed proposed pilot courses and the active and restricted pilot courses that successfully have completed the pilot process.  These courses are developed by local schools, central services staff members, or external organizations, and have met all of the requirements of the established procedures.  The courses also support and extend high school signature, academy, career and technology, and elective programs.

After a review and discussion about the pilot courses, the Board approved the proposed courses.

Read the memorandum, which includes the full list of the approved courses.


The Board approved the following resolutions:

A resolution recognizing November 2019, as Mental Health and Wellness Awareness Month;

A resolution recognizing December 2–6, 2019, as National Inclusive Schools Week;

New Business

The Board approved a resolution regarding Grade 3 literacy data.  The resolution was offered and amended at the October 28, 2019 Board meeting.

Resolved, that the Board of Education direct the superintendent of schools to provide the Board of Education with Grade 3 disaggregated literacy data, by school annually, and no later than September 1, or within one month after release of the data by the state, each year, so that they can  continue to support Montgomery County Public Schools’ efforts toward its goal of having all students read on or above grade level by the end of Grade 3, which is an essential component of closing the achievement gap.  It is further requested that this data be published in a format that will allow the comparison of progress, year by year, beginning with 2019-2020 data.  Additionally, if the Maryland Comprehensive Assessment Program English Language Arts/Literacy Performance is ever discarded, Montgomery County Public Schools shall create or procure a new assessment for this purpose.

The Board offered a resolution to increase the availability and discounted rates for driver’s education programs offered at Montgomery County Public School locations.  The resolution recognizes the cost of driver’s education programs and the racial and economic disparities in teens who are able to obtain their driver’s licenses by age 18. The resolution will lie on the table until the Board’s next business meeting scheduled for December 3, 2019, when the board will consider it for approval.

Resolved, the Board of Education directs the superintendent to explore partnership options with local public and private driver education programs that would increase the availability and reduce the cost of state required driver’s education programs, specifically in communities impacted by poverty, and provide a report of findings to the Board no later than March 2020.

The Board offered a resolution that recognized the importance of respect for religious diversity.  The resolution will lie on the table until the Board’s next business meeting scheduled for December 3, 2019, when the board will consider it for approval.

Resolved, That the Board of Education celebrate the diversity of faith within our community.  The Board of Education supports religious holiday accommodations, excused absences for student observance of religious holidays, and flexibility in assignments, where reasonable and practicable, so that students are not inappropriately penalized for choosing to observe religious holidays. The Board of Education and the superintendent of schools will ensure that respect for and tolerance of diverse religious backgrounds is emphasized in all Montgomery County Public Schools and that students who observe religious holidays are duly supported and accommodated.

Future Meetings

The Board of Education will hold its next regular business meeting Tuesday, December 3, 2019.  Please check the Board of Education website and meeting calendar for further information. 

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: Mrs. Shebra L. Evans, president; Mrs. Patricia O’Neill, vice president. Members: Ms. Jeanette E. Dixon, Dr. Judith Docca, Ms. Karla Silvestre, Mrs. Rebecca Smondrowski, Ms. Brenda Wolff, and Mr. Nathaniel Tinbite, student member. Dr. Jack R. Smith, superintendent of schools and secretary-treasurer. Office of the Board: 240-740-3030. 


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