Board Discusses Policy on Strategic Planning, Approves Facility Projects

March 11, 2009
Montgomery County Board of Education Discusses “Going Green,” Policy on Strategic Planning, and Approves Facility Projects

The Montgomery County Board of Education met on Tuesday, March 10, and discussed a series of proposed revisions to Policy AEB, Strategic Planning for Continuous Improvement, among other agenda items. The Board also received an update on the Professional Learning Communities Institute and on MCPS energy conservation and sustainability programs; accepted several school facility projects and preliminary plans; and took positions on several pieces of proposed state legislation.

Discussion of Policy AEB, Strategic Planning for Continuous Improvement
The Board of Education discussed a series of proposed revisions to Policy AEB, Strategic Planning for Continuous Improvement. The Board had tentatively adopted the revised policy last November, distributed it for public comment and reviewed comments in February. Public comment reflected a concern for ensuring that a broad range of stakeholders representing the diversity of the school community are included in the school improvement process.

Among the goals of the policy revision was to more closely align the school system budget with the strategic plan adopted by the Board and to integrate the Malcolm Baldrige Education Criteria for Performance Excellence into the strategic planning process for all schools and offices. Board members introduced and discussed several new amendments intended to add clarity to the Board’s role in the operating and capital budget processes. After extensive discussion, the Board voted unanimously to send the policy back to the Policy Committee for further review, before reintroducing it to the full Board.

“MCPS Goes Green”—Presentation on Energy Conservation and Sustainability Programs
Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) and the Board of Education have a longstanding commitment to energy conservation and responsible environmental stewardship. The Board received an update from staff and discussed many MCPS sustainable programs and initiatives, including the School Energy and Recycling Team, automated energy management, energy retrofits, solar photovoltaic system installations, green cleaning, construction and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), and green initiatives in transportation, procurement and food services. "MCPS has undertaken many initiatives to conserve energy, reduce costs, and mitigate our impact on the environment. I believe we are also setting good examples for our students who are our partners in going green, and who are becoming increasingly aware of the need to be good environmental stewards," said Board of Education President Shirley Brandman.

Professional Learning Communities Institute Update
The Board received a staff briefing on the school system’s Professional Learning Communities Institute (PLCI). An innovative professional development initiative of MCPS, the Institute aims to increase student achievement and eliminate the achievement gap in middle and elementary schools, by building the capacity of each school’s leadership team. PLCI participants—including administrators, teachers, support professionals and parents—review case studies, engage in reflective discussions, examine their own practices, and plan for school improvement. Work is paying off: from 2006–2008, the percentage of students scoring at proficient/advanced levels on the grades 3–5 Maryland School Assessments in reading and math increased for African American, Latino, Asian American and white students. “This initiative by staff has really made a difference in the lives and academic achievement of our students. I am also pleased to know that the progress continues even after the person’s participation in the Professional Learning Communities Institute ends,” said Board Member Dr. Judy Docca.

Facility Project and Presentation Plan Approvals
The Board approved the installation of an artificial turf athletic field at Walter Johnson High School, subject to a leasing arrangement with Bethesda Soccer Club, which would contribute $335,000 toward installation in exchange for preferred scheduling of the stadium field. The resolution will be forwarded to the county executive and County Council for consideration and action regarding this appropriation. Also, the Board formally accepted three gymnasium addition projects at Cloverly, Stonegate, and Wayside elementary schools and approved preliminary plan presentations for an addition project at Fairland Elementary School and a modernization project at Farmland Elementary School.

Positions on State Legislation Impacting MCPS
The Board adopted positions on several pieces of proposed state legislation that would have an impact on Montgomery County Public Schools, including those related to enrollment, construction/maintenance, finance, procurement, reporting and student-related areas such as curriculum, athletics and graduation. Staff will continue to monitor any proposed legislation, throughout the 2009 Maryland General Assembly session.

Margaret Cutler Interages Award
Each year, the Margaret Cutler Interages Award is given to an individual who has contributed to Interages’ mission to build bridges across generations and cultures. The Board of Education recognized this year’s recipient of the Interages Award, Elaine Lessenco. Ms. Lessenco was commended for her distinguished career with the MCPS, where she has served for many years as a placement officer and most recently as a part-time hearing examiner.

Technical Change to Policy DJB, Bid Awards
Section 5-112 of the Maryland Annotated Code, Education Article, was amended to modify the requirement for advertising bids from $7,500 to $25,000. The Board of Education made a technical change to Policy DBJ, Bid Awards, to be consistent with state law.

More information about topics for future Board meetings may be found at:
Montgomery County Board of Education: Ms. Shirley Brandman, president; Mrs. Patricia O’Neill, vice president. Members: Mr. Christopher Barclay, Ms. Laura Berthiaume, Dr. Judy Docca, Mr. Phil Kauffman, Ms. Nancy Navarro, and Ms. Quratul-Ann Malik, student member. Dr. Jerry D. Weast, superintendent and secretary-treasurer. Office of the Board: 301-279-3617. 

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 county-wide but run at-large or from the Board district in which they reside.

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