Schools Ready for Monday, August 30, Opening

August 28, 2004
After a summer of preparation that included extensive teacher and staff training, expanded opportunities for student learning, enhanced technology, facility modernization and more, Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) is set to open August 30 with almost 140,500 students.

Superintendent Jerry D. Weast and others welcomed nearly 800 new teachers to the school system August 20 during a program held at Walt Whitman High School. The event followed a weeklong orientation held August 12-19 that allowed teachers new to MCPS to learn more about areas including the curriculum, grading and reporting, and professional development.

In addition to new teachers, the school system since last spring has filled 27 principal vacancies and hired 22 central office administrators. A total of 74 school-based administrative positions have been filled - 95 percent of them from within MCPS.

Preparing students for school

For the third consecutive summer, the Extended Learning Opportunities Summer Adventures in Learning (ELO- SAIL) was provided to students in 17 Title I elementary schools. About 4,700 students were enrolled in the program, which strengthens basic skills and provides English language instruction for speakers of other languages. This summer, the program was expanded to include entering fifth grade students along with kindergarten through fourth grade.

More than 4,500 students enrolled in the Middle School Summer Program, held at all 36 school locations. About 7,000 high school and 1,300 elementary school students attended regional summer school at four high school and six elementary school locations. Summer school also was available at local schools. Sixteen high schools offered Essentials of Algebra to incoming ninth grade students who need extra support in order to be successful in Algebra 1.
Summer assessment teams conducted evaluations of more than 600 students in order to have Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) in place prior to the start of school. Extended School Year services addressing a range of IEPs were provided to more than 2,100 students in 37 different locations.

Professional development

A comprehensive professional development plan is part of the school system's goal to help staff meet objectives in the Call to Action strategic plan. At the elementary level, training continued on the revised curriculum for kindergarten through Grade 5.

Additional training for first and second grade teachers helped deepen understanding of the needs of English language learners and special education students. Grade 3 teachers were trained in curriculum implementation, and Grades 4 and 5 teachers received training on reading/language arts and math.

At the secondary level, teachers learned instructional strategies for successful inclusion of students in the least restrictive environment in areas of Algebra, Mathematics C, and English 9. Geometry teachers were trained on the revised curriculum. Studying Skillful Teaching course work continued with the rollout of the Studying Skillful Teaching 2 course.

Rollout of the comprehensive training for supporting services staff began, with a focus on paraeducator training and career ladder advancement.

Training for leaders included the Administrative and Supervisory Professional Growth System for school-based leaders, training for school teams beginning the Baldrige process, leadership and curriculum implementation for elementary and secondary leadership teams, and leadership development for assistant principals-in-training and elementary principal interns.

Technology advancement

As part of the technology modernization program, more than 9,900 computers were installed in 47 schools during the summer. Schools also received printers, projectors and updates to network infrastructure.

New web-based student information system features, enabling standardized student test results and demographic data to be accessed online, are nearing completion and will be implemented in late September. In late October, a web-based attendance collection application module will be implemented for elementary schools.

Also in October, the high school vertical articulation model will be piloted in the Downcounty Consortium schools. Training in the use of the Instructional Management System (IMS) was provided to fourth and fifth grade teachers to support the curriculum rollout, and kindergarten through third grade teachers received refresher training.

The Data Warehouse System component of the Integrated Quality Management System continues to evolve, with profiles included to support the No Child Left Behind Act and Maryland School Assessment requirements. Through the system, users can access information to guide instruction, support school improvement plan development, identify subgroups for instruction, and follow academic achievement trends of ethnic and gender groups.

A range of support

A range of offices throughout MCPS have been working to make sure that the opening of school is successful. Among many areas, the Department of Food Service worked to ensure that all schools will open with a manager in place and with start-up food and supplies in place. Construction staff have renovated kitchens and dining rooms, along with other areas.

The Department of Transportation has completed route planning and preparation before the 1,230 buses roll out for the first day of school. The department began outfitting all buses with two-way radios, using the old Montgomery County Police Department frequencies and transmitters. The project is scheduled for completion by the end of September.

The Department of School Safety and Security has been working with all schools and facilities to upgrade their individual emergency/crisis plans. All school-based security staff received training prior to the start of the new school year and will meet monthly with the security teams to discuss issues and concerns. This school year, the Educational Facilities Officer (EFO) program has expanded to 17 EFOs working with the schools.

Updated facilities

Northwood High School has reopened as one of the five Downcounty Consortium high schools, and students at Rockville High School and Glen Haven Elementary School return from holding facilities to newly modernized schools. Rocky Hill Middle School students arrive at a completely new facility, constructed so that the existing building can be converted to a high school for the Clarksburg area. Improvements were made to the corridor at Damascus High School, and a gymnasium addition was constructed at Charles R. Drew Elementary School.

Oak View Elementary School students have been relocated to the Fairland Center and Kensington Parkwood Elementary School students to the Grosvenor Center while their schools are being modernized. Somerset Elementary remains at Radnor Center until January 2005.

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