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Board of Education Meets Virtually and Approves a Temporary Suspension of Board Policies, Plans for Grading and Reporting, High School Graduation Requirements, Academic Eligibility for Extracurricular Activities, and Revisions to the 2019-2020 School Year Calendars - Traditional and Innovative Schools; Approves LGBTQ Pilot Courses and Makes Administrative Appointments
The Montgomery County Board of Education (Board) conducted a virtual business meeting on Tuesday, May 12, 2020. All Board members participated remotely, given the current health and safety concerns due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) crisis. The Board approved the following, due to the COVID-19 crisis and its impact on Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS): A temporary suspension of certain Board policies; plans for grading and reporting; plans for high school graduation requirements; plans for academic eligibility for extracurricular activities; and revisions to the 2019-2020 traditional and innovative school year calendars. The Board received updates on: COVID-19; the MCPS Continuity of Learning Plan; and school construction projects. The Board also approved LGBTQ pilot courses and made administrative appointments.
The agenda for the meeting, with links to related materials, can be viewed on the Board of Education website.
Watch the recording of the May 12, 2020, meeting.
Board Actions Taken Due to COVID-19 Impact
Temporary Suspension of Board Policies
The Board and staff members discussed Board policies and regulations impacted by the COVID-19 crisis and the necessity to temporarily suspend certain policies, either in part or in their entirety, in accordance with Policy BFA, Policy Setting, which allows the Board to take such action under exigent circumstances. All Board action was aligned with waivers recently announced by the State of Maryland and/or the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE), and in accordance with the Code of Maryland (COMAR). The Board approved the temporary suspension of relevant portions of the following policies and regulations:
To learn about the Board’s specific actions, please read the Board’s approved resolution.
Grading and Reporting
Board members heard from staff regarding possible options for changes in grading policies for elementary, middle and high school levels for the 2019-2020 school year, in light of the current health crisis. Board and staff members acknowledged their appreciation for the thousands of messages and input received from stakeholders about the options and opportunities. Staff members also referenced important information learned from higher education institutions regarding admissions processes, and the impact of COVID- 19 on those processes. After hearing from MCPS staff members and discussing the various options presented, the Board approved a revised grading and reporting policy for elementary and secondary students. You can learn more about the approved revised policy here.
Board members discussed and considered information presented by staff members regarding high school graduation credit requirements. Following the discussion, Board members approved the resolution waiving MCPS’ 22-credit requirement and reduced the graduation requirement to 21 credits, which is consistent with the minimum standard set forth by MSDE and COMAR.
Academic Eligibility Exemption
Board members also approved the resolution to temporarily waive academic eligibility requirements under Board Policy IQD, Academic Eligibility for Extracurricular Activities. Academic requirements for students’ participation in extracurricular activities will be waived for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year and for the first semester of the 2020-2021 school year.
2019-2020 School Year Calendar Update and Revisions
After staff and the Board reviewed the number of days schools were closed this school year, due to COVID-19; the impact to the required number of instructional days for students; and the guidance and waiver recently provided by MSDE to waive requirements for the 2019-2020 school year, Board members approved revisions to both the traditional and innovative school calendars.
Read the resolution and revised calendars.
Update on COVID-19 Crisis
Superintendent Dr. Jack R. Smith and staff members provided Board members with an update on MCPS’ ongoing efforts to support students and families during the COVID-19 health crisis. Dr. Monifa B. McKnight, deputy superintendent, and Dr. Smith reported updated information about ongoing distribution of food to families throughout the district; and the distribution of digital tools, including Chromebooks and MiFi devices, so students may connect with teachers and classmates and engage in remote learning. Dr. Smith also shared information about the potential impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the FY 2021 Operating Budget. In addition, the superintendent of schools, staff and Board members discussed the following:
View the presentation.
Update on the Continuity of Learning
Superintendent Dr. Jack R. Smith, staff and Board members reviewed and discussed Phase III (and beyond) of the Continuity of Learning Plan set to extend from May 18 through June 15, 2020, which is comprised of the following:
The discussion also included information about monitoring student engagement and student well-being; ways of connecting with families, as well as available resources and ongoing support throughout all phases of the plan. Aspects of graduation celebrations were also discussed. A more comprehensive discussion about this topic is set to take place at the Board’s next scheduled business meeting on May 28, 2020.
Approval of LGBTQ Pilot Course
The Board approved a resolution that allows the development of a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning (LGBTQ+) Studies pilot course. The resolution was presented to the Board in accordance with Board Policy IFA, Curriculum.
Read the memorandum to the Board and the resolution.
Update on Construction Projects and Capital Funding
Staff from the Office of the Chief Operating Officer and the Department of Facilities Management provided the Board with an update on construction projects and the impact of COVID-19. The presentation and discussion included information about industry disruptions, MCPS project schedules, occupancy considerations, contingency planning and making adjustments necessary to observe social distancing requirements, and summer recess infrastructure projects.
In addition, staff and Board members discussed capital budget funding, as it relates to the Board’s requested FY 2021-2026 Capital Improvements Program (CIP), funding from Montgomery County Council, the State of Maryland and potential shortfalls.
Review the presentation.
Human Resources Appointments
The Board approved the following administrative appointments:
Daniel K. Marella, currently acting chief financial officer, Office of the Chief Financial Officer, as the new associate superintendent of Finance.
Susan Lau, currently acting chief investment officer, Department of Strategic Planning/Resource Management, Office of the Chief Financial Officer, as the new chief investment officer, Department of Strategic Planning/Resource Management, Office of the Chief Financial Office.
Dr. Afie Mirshah-Nayar, currently principal, Largo High School, Prince George’s County Public Schools, as the new principal, Paint Branch High School.
Dr. Shelton L. Mooney, currently acting principal, Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, as the new principal, Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School.
Laura M. Swerdzewski, currently acting principal, Beverly Farms Elementary School, as the new principal, Beverly Farms Elementary School.
Dr. Kimberly A. Thompson, currently assistant principal, Stonegate Elementary School, as the new principal, Burning Tree Elementary School.
Andrew J. Winter, currently principal, Lucy V. Barnsley Elementary School, as the new principal, Ritchie Park Elementary School.
The Board approved the resolution designating May 11-15, 2020, as Pupil Personnel Worker Week.
The Board also approved the resolution recognizing the League of Educators for Asian American Progress Scholarship recipients.
The Board of Education is scheduled to hold its next business meeting on Thursday, May 28, 2020. The agenda and the format of this meeting will be determined at a later date, given the current COVID-19 crisis. 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; Ms. Brenda Wolff, vice president. Members: Ms. Jeanette E. Dixon, Dr. Judith Docca, Mrs. Patricia O’Neill, Ms. Karla Silvestre, Mrs. Rebecca Smondrowski, 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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