Board Responds to County Growth Policy Recommendation

August 28, 2009
Board of Education Responds to County Growth Policy Recommendation, Discusses Opening of Schools

The Montgomery County Board of Education met on Thursday, August 27, and, among other items, approved a resolution related to the recommended 2009 County Growth Policy. The Board discussed readiness for opening of schools, viewed a demonstration of the myMCPS portal, appointed a new administrator, and submitted a proposed name for the former Mark Twain Facility, now used as a site for Alternative Programs.

2009 County Growth Policy
The Montgomery County Board of Education approved a resolution relating to the Montgomery County Planning Board’s recommended 2009 County Growth Policy as it pertains to schools. The policy is reviewed every two years—although the school test it includes is conducted annually—and the county executive and Board of Education are required to comment on the recommended policy by October 1.

Among other areas, the Board resolution supported Planning Board recommendations for the Growth Policy school test, which continues to include the 2007 change of using MCPS program capacity as the basis for calculations used to impose school facilities payment when cluster facility use exceeds 110 percent (up from 105 percent from the current policy) and to create a residential moratorium where cluster school use exceeds 120 percent. The Board requested that the County Council place the school facilities payment revenue in the general fund, not in separate funds that apply to the cluster in which it is collected. The Board strongly opposed the Planning Board recommendation for the trading of subdivision approvals in clusters that are in moratorium, noting that the provision might further exacerbate space deficits in the affected clusters by allowing subdivisions to get under way in overutilized clusters.

The Board also voted to include in a letter of transmittal a statement about the importance of relieving overcrowding in schools by increasing Spending Affordability Guidelines and generating funding through bonds at a time when interest rates favor borrowing. “It is our desire to ensure that any policy works hand in hand with adequate funding to meet the facility needs of our school children,” said Board Vice President Pat O’Neill.

Readiness for Opening Schools
The Board heard presentations and discussed the school system’s readiness for the opening of schools. On the first day of school, approximately 142,000 students will be greeted by more than 11,500 teachers—about 550 of them new to the school system this year. The new William B. Gibbs, Jr. Elementary School this year brings the total number of MCPS schools to 200—131 elementary, 38 middle, 25 high and 6 special schools. These and other major capital projects completed during the summer add 439,930 square feet of new and renovated space to MCPS facilities. The first day of school for students is Monday, August 31.

myMCPS Portal Demonstration
The Board viewed a demonstration and discussed myMCPS, an innovative web-based system that consolidates a range of data systems into a comprehensive portal that provides one-stop access to a range of pertinent information. myMCPS simplifies staff access to student performance data, provides a structure for online curriculum and multimedia resources, and enables staff to share learning resources, successful practices, and strategies. The portal is organized into a series of centers, such as Information, Communications, Performance, and Assessment. Many elements of the website are currently operational, with additional information and refinements to be added during the school year.

Administrative Appointment
The Board of Education made the following administrative appointment:

Timothy J. O’Connor, currently technology consultant, Technology Consulting and Communications Systems Team, Office of Organizational Development, as coordinator of special initiatives, Office of the Chief Technology Officer

Naming the Former Mark Twain Facility
The Board submitted the name Blair G. Ewing Center for Alternative Programs to be considered for the former Mark Twain Facility that would reflect its current use as a site for Alternative Programs. The name will be considered by the Alternative Programs naming committee, which can recommend up to two additional names for the facility before the Board makes a final decision on the new name.

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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. Michael Durso, Mr. Phil Kauffman, and Mr. Timothy Hwang, student member. Dr. Jerry D. Weast,

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