Board Discusses FY 2011 Budget, Elimination of Loss of Credit Practice

May 12, 2010
Board of Education Conditionally Supports Maryland Race to the Top Application, Discusses FY 2011 Budget, Appoints Seven Administrators, Discusses Elimination of Loss of Credit Practice

The Montgomery County Board of Education met on Tuesday, May 11, and, among other items, voted to conditionally support Maryland’s Race to the Top application. The Board also discussed elimination of the Loss of Credit practice and authorized legal action related to the Board of Education’s FY 2011 Operating Budget Request. The Board also approved preliminary plans for the Weller Road Elementary School modernization and committee recommendations on enhancing the process for determining the Board’s work. The Board approved seven administrative appointments and passed resolutions honoring NAACP scholarship recipients and Salute to School Food and Nutrition Service Personnel Day.

Maryland’s Race to the Top Application
The Board voted to conditionally support the Maryland Race to the Top application provided that the Maryland State Department of Education allows Montgomery County Public Schools to continue using its highly successful professional growth system, which has yielded exceptional results for students. The Board further stipulated that the Maryland State Board of Education declare the Montgomery County Public Schools teachers’ professional growth systems compliant with the Education Reform Act of 2010 and any future implementing regulations contemplated or adopted by the state board. “The Board gave conditional support to Maryland's Race to the Top application. That condition is, that we believe that our decade-old professional growth system works and must be continued,” said Board of Education President Patricia O’Neill. 
Elimination of Loss of Credit Practice
The Board of Education discussed the recommendation of the Loss of Credit Project Team, a group representing teachers, administrators, central services staff, parents and students. The project team was charged with reviewing the circumstances under which credit for a class would be lost. After a thorough review of student achievement and attendance data, attendance policies of neighboring jurisdictions, and other information, the team recommended that the practice of denying credit for classes based on attendance be eliminated starting with the 2010–2011 school year. That recommendation has been accepted. Unlawful absences will be considered disciplinary infractions. Furthermore, students will be expected to make up missed work regardless of the legal status of their absence, in accordance with Regulation IKA-RA, Grading and Reporting. A team has been convened to coordinate implementation and communication of the project team recommendation. "I am extremely pleased that the loss of credit practice will be removed from our schools,” said Student Member of the Board Timothy Hwang. “This will allow our focus to return to the importance of students attending school and address the causes for lack of attendance, rather than the bureaucratic paper documentation for loss of credit."

Authorization of Legal Action Related to the Board of Education’s FY 2011 Operating Budget Request
The Board approved a resolution that would authorize legal action relating to the Board of Education’s Fiscal Year 2011 Operating Budget. The resolution states that Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) has already agreed to reduce its budget by $137.7 million and could face a state fine as high as $51.3 million because the county has not met minimum funding obligations under state law. The resolution further states that the County Council does not have the legal authority to reduce the County Executive’s budget and authorizes the school system to take any “appropriate legal action to prevent the County Council from exceeding its authority by making any further reductions in the County Executive’s recommendation for the FY 2011 Operating Budget for Montgomery County Public Schools.” However, Board members expressed a sincere desire to come to a budget agreement without having to resort to legal action. “This afternoon we heard from and saw the faces of pain on parents and students who are suffering because of budget cuts,” said Board President Patricia O’Neill.  “Ultimately, we do not want to file suit, but last time we suffered devastating cuts, it took more than a decade to recover.  Our kids have one shot at a high quality education, and we cannot allow that to be jeopardized.”

Student Member of the Board Timothy Hwang said, “Behind all the numbers and the legal jargon, there are thousands of students, real people, whose futures are being jeopardized when money is cut from the Board's budget.  I sincerely hope that the County Council keeps in mind that they hold students' futures in their hands and do what is necessary to protect those futures.”

"We are fully aware of the financial difficulties being faced in our county and hope to continue conversations with the County Council," said Board Vice President Christopher Barclay.  "However, we cannot ignore the state law regarding maintenance of effort, which is on the books to protect education budgets from being decimated and harm our students' futures.  If necessary, and forced to do so, our Board stands united to file suit to protect our children's education."

Human Resources Appointments
The Board approved the appointments of the following administrators:

· Carole C. Goodman, currently principal, James Hubert Blake High School, as associate superintendent, Office of Human Resources and Development

· Kathleen C. Lazor, currently acting director, Department of Materials Management, as director, Department of Materials Management

· James C. Song, currently director, Division of Construction, as director, Department of Facilities Management

· Eric L. Minus, currently principal, Francis Scott Key Middle School, as principal, John F. Kennedy High School

· Norman L. Coleman, currently acting principal, Cannon Road Elementary School, as principal, Cannon Road Elementary School

· Jan M. Riley, currently principal, Brown Station Elementary School, as consulting principal, Office of Human Resources and Development

· Gary B. Bartee, currently principal, North Chevy Chase Elementary School, as liaison for MCPS Professional Growth Systems (PGS)—Montgomery County Association of Administrators and Principals

Recommendations on Enhancing Process for Determining the Board’s Work
The Board approved the recommendations of an ad hoc Board committee to consider changes that would enhance the process for determining the Board’s work. The committee members are Shirley Brandman (chair), Patricia O’Neill, and Laura Berthiaume. The pilot process would include an annual work plan development retreat to determine the focus of the Board’s work as it relates to the Strategic Plan, identification of a maximum of six significant topics to be included on the Board’s agendas during the upcoming year, and discussion during the retreat that would offer guidance to the Board officers in the agenda-setting process.

Preliminary Plans for Weller Road ES Modernization Project
The Board approved preliminary architectural plans for the modernization of Weller Road Elementary School.

Salute to School Food and Nutrition Service Personnel Day
The Board passed a resolution that recognized May 5, 2010, as the twenty-fifth annual Salute to School Food and Nutrition Service Personnel Day, acknowledging school food and nutrition service personnel’s dedication and continuing commitment to feeding and educating students.

Recognition of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Scholarship Recipients
The Board recognized the eight recipients of $1,000 scholarships from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and two recipients of $1,000 scholarships awarded by State Senator Nancy J. King. The scholarship recipients are:

Grace Elizabeth Brock, Quince Orchard High School
Langston Brown, Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School
Michelle Byamugisha, Poolesville High School
Francoise Djoukeng, Montgomery Blair High School
Talin Eshe Raenelle Hill, Winston Churchill High School
Landry Horimbere, Springbrook High School
Franklin Pokam, Richard Montgomery High School
Milton Pratt, Poolesville High School
Quet Quartey, Watkins Mill High School
Spencer Williams, Watkins Mill High School

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