Board of Education Approves Legislative Platform on Priority Issues

November 11, 2009
The Montgomery County Board of Education met on Tuesday, November 10, and, among other items, adopted the 2010-2011 school calendar and adopted its 2010 legislative platform. The Board also discussed K-5 literacy, approved pilot courses, discussed school safety and security, and took tentative actions on two policies. The Board passed resolutions recognizing veterans, American Education Week, and National School Psychology Week.

2010-2011 School Calendar
The Board of Education approved the calendar for the 2010-2011 school year. School will begin on Monday, August 30, 2010. The 2011 spring break will begin on April 18, 2011. The school year will consist of 184 instructional days, including four contingency days for emergency closings. Teachers have 193 duty days, plus 16 hours of unscheduled professional time. The 13 holidays during the school year include the Primary Election on September 14 and the General Election on November 2. The complete calendar and school contingency calendar can be viewed on the Montgomery County Public Schools website,

Discussion of Maintenance of Effort Funding
The Board of Education took action regarding the recent opinion issued by the Attorney General, which determined that Montgomery County has not met the requirement for local Maintenance of Effort (MOE) funding for the Fiscal Year 2010 Operating Budget for Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS). As a result, the Board issued the following statement:

The Montgomery County Board of Education is deeply concerned that as a result of this ruling, the children of MCPS may lose funding that is critically needed for instructional programs. Due to a perverse provision in state law, when county funding is not found to meet maintenance of effort, a significant financial penalty may be imposed directly upon the school system. The Board of Education is advocating vigorously to avoid any penalty that we understand could range from $16 to $64 million. We do not believe that our state leaders intended for our children to bear the brunt of the punishment as we grapple with this unusual set of fiscal circumstances. We must hold our students harmless. Working together with other county officials, we will fight to avoid any adverse consequences to our students and our schools.

The Board also decided to advocate for a change to the current law in its 2010 Legislative Platform.

2010 Legislative Platform
The Board approved a legislative platform for the 2010 session of the Maryland General Assembly that summarizes the Board's positions on priority issues. The major recommendations fall within three categories:
-Funding/Accountability:Pension/retirement, maintenance of effort, school construction, operating budget, special education non-public tuition, public funding for private schools, comprehensive master plan
-Local Board Authority: Collective bargaining, curriculum, charter schools
-Students:Compulsory age of attendance, early childhood education, nutrition and health, school safety
Similar to previous years, the 2010 document will be distributed to members of the General Assembly, partner organizations, and the community, and will be posted on the Board of Education's website.

Goal 1: Ensure Success for Every Student: K-5 Literacy
The Board discussed literacy in Grades K-5. Students who can read at advanced levels in elementary school are more likely to be successful in rigorous high school courses and prepared for college when they graduate. MCPS uses a balanced literacy framework designed to help students read, write, speak, and listen. Schools with successful reading programs have structures and practices in place to analyze data, a coherent approach to reading, and ongoing monitoring of individual reading performance. There have been significant increases in reading performance at the elementary level; however, disparities continue to exist among student groups. The Elementary Reading M-Stat Team will continue to focus on these student groups.

Approval of Pilot Courses
The Board discussed and approved development of pilot courses in secondary schools and designated as active those courses that have completed the pilot process successfully. The Board voted that five high school courses become active countywide, starting in fall 2010: AP Chinese Language and Culture, AP Japanese Language and Culture, AP Russian Language and Culture A/B, HSA Workshops-piloted as HSA Preparation Workshops-and International Human Rights. The Board also voted that 23 courses be offered at authorized high schools and middle schools with specialized programs. The Board approved eight new high school pilot courses-five externally developed International Baccalaureate courses, one externally developed METS ESOL course, and two elective high school courses.

School Safety and Security at a Glance
The Board discussed the second annual edition of the MCPS School Safety and Security at a Glance report. The publication summarizes data from the 2008-2009 school year for individual schools on suspensions, serious incidents, Code Red and Code Blue drills, school climate, and local school safety and security program descriptions. The report is used to improve the way incidents that impact the safety and security of school staff and students, or disrupt the process of teaching and learning, are addressed. The report can be downloaded from the MCPS website at

Tentative Action on Policies
The Board discussed and took tentative action on two policies:

-Policy EID, Tax Deferred Annuity Program, whose revision reflects the structure of the 403(b) and 457(b) defined contribution plans as they have evolved to broader market instruments than the original insurance company tax-deferred annuity products.
-Policy GIJ, Operating Fund Investments, a new policy that establishes the investment scope, objectives, and guidelines for the investment of school district operating funds.

The policies will be sent out for public comment.

Evaluation of Policy JPG, Wellness: Physical and Nutritional Health
At the request of the Board of Education Policy Committee, the Department of Reporting and Regulatory Accountability reviewed and evaluated the implementation of Board Policy JPG, Wellness: Physical and Nutritional Health. The review evaluated seven criteria for success, found many positive elements in place, and made several recommendations. They include promoting awareness of the policy and regulations among school staff, continuing to monitor vendors¡¦ and school stores'compliance with nutritional content, promoting fundraising and classroom celebrations that do not involve foods of low nutritional value, and encouraging schools to use their websites to share information about healthy nutrition and physical activity.

In Honor of Veterans
The Board approved a resolution saluting the sacrifices of the men and women in the U.S. Armed Forces. A U.S. Senate resolution has designated November 11-17 of each year as National Veterans Awareness Week.

American Education Week
The Board approved a resolution recognizing the observation of American Education Week in Montgomery County November 15-21. MCPS has high expectations for every child and is committed to providing a climate of respect that provides students access to opportunities to ensure academic success. Educators, school system staff, students, families, and community members are encouraged to take time to celebrate their accomplishments and reaffirm their commitment to ensuring a world-class education for all students.

National School Psychology Week
The Board, recognizing National School Psychology Week beginning November 9, approved a resolution highlighting the vital role school psychologists play in the personal and academic development of MCPS students. The Board expressed appreciation for the support school psychologists provide to a culturally diverse student body and families, and for their daily efforts to create supportive learning environments for all MCPS students.

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