Board of Education Supports Funding Waiver; Votes on Wheaton/Edison Modernization

March 30, 2011
   The Montgomery County Board of Education met on Monday, March 28, and approved a resolution supporting the county’s request for a waiver of the Maintenance of Effort requirement for FY 2012, if specific conditions are met. The Board also voted on the modernization project for the Thomas Edison High School of Technology and Wheaton High School, and reconsidered the applications for two charter schools. The Board recognized April as the Month of the Young Child, Arab American Heritage Month and Autism Awareness Month, and also recognized National Student Leadership, Administrative Professionals, and National Volunteer weeks.

Non-Recommended Reductions to the Fiscal Year 2012 Operating Budget
   The Board of Education voted to support Montgomery County’s request for a waiver of the Maintenance of Effort (MOE) requirements for the FY 2012 operating budget as long as certain conditions are met. One condition is that the County Council must fully fund the county executive’s recommended budget. The County Executive’s recommended budget would necessitate $82.1 million in reductions from the Board’s operating budget request, despite an expected increase of more than 3,000 students. A list of potential reductions issued by Superintendent Jerry D. Weast includes the elimination of more than 600 full-time equivalent positions and an increase in class sizes. A second condition is that the FY 2012 appropriation should not include any transfer of functions or expenses from the county budget to the Board budget without additional funds.  Read the Board of Education item.

Superintendent’s Recommendations for Wheaton and Edison Modernization
   The Board  voted to conduct a feasibility study on the modernization project for the Thomas Edison High School of Technology and Wheaton High School that would consider two options. The first option would be to construct two buildings on the property that currently houses both Wheaton and Edison. The second option would be to construct a single building that would house both programs, but provide each school with a distinct identity. The Board also asked staff to consider programmatic options for Edison, including the selection process for students, and programs to be offered at the school. Beginning with the 2011–2012 school year, the marketing and selection process for Edison students will be coordinated with Edison and the Division of Consortium Choice and Application Program Services. Read the superintendent’s recommendation.

Decisions on Charter School Applications
   The Board voted to deny two charter school applications that had been sent back to the Board by the state. The applications from Crossway Community, Inc. and Global Garden Public Charter School were initially denied by the Board on June 8, 2010. On Jan. 25, 2011, the State Board of Education remanded the decision to the Montgomery County Board to reconsider and provide a clear, legally-supported rationale for its decisions. In its March 28 review and deliberation, the Board outlined a range of concerns about both applications. The Board took each application separately. The Board voted unanimously to deny the Crossway Community application and 6-2 to deny the Global Garden application. Read the memo to the Board of Education.

Month of the Young Child
   The Board passed a resolution supporting April 2011 as the Month of the Young Child in Montgomery County Public Schools to focus public attention on young children and their families. Research shows that all young children can and do achieve at high levels when developmentally appropriate supports and services are provided. MCPS data show that 91.7 percent of kindergarten students are able to read simple text and that 75 percent of kindergarten students reached or exceeded the advanced text level benchmark in 2010. The Board has implemented an Early Success Performance Plan to provide comprehensive academic supports and services to children in the early years to prepare them for later school success. Read the resolution.

Arab American Heritage Month
   The Board and superintendent of schools declared April 2011 to be observed in MCPS as Arab American Heritage Month. Montgomery County is home to a thriving Arab American community whose presence has added to the rich mosaic of our county. The month recognizes the contributions Arab Americans have made to every aspect of American life, including science, medicine, education, business, culture, and government service. Read the resolution.

National Autism Awareness Month
   April has been designated National Autism Awareness month by the Autism Society of America. Autism spectrum disorders are a group of developmental disabilities that contribute to life-long social, communication, and behavioral challenges. Reflecting the fact that autism is the fastest growing developmental disability in the world, MCPS has experienced a 51 percent average annual increase in students with autism over the past decade. The Board approved a resolution continuing to pledge its support to the energy and effort of staff, family, and community members who seek to ensure success for MCPS students with autism spectrum disorders. Read the resolution.

National Student Leadership Week
   The Board joined with the superintendent of schools in recognizing the week of April 17–23 as National Student Leadership Week in MCPS. The Board commended student leaders for their achievements and service on behalf of MCPS and encouraged citizens to seek opportunities to recognize student leaders in our schools and support their training and activities as they prepare for future leadership roles. Read the resolution.

Administrative Professionals Week
   The Board approved a resolution that Administrative Professionals Week be observed by the school system during the week of April 25 and designated Wednesday, April 27, as Administrative Professionals Day for MCPS. The week and day publicly recognize the ability, dedication, and effectiveness of administrative professional employees. The Board expressed appreciation for the efforts administrative professional staff members contribute to  the effective, courteous, and efficient operation of MCPS. Read the resolution.

National Volunteer Week
   The Board approved a resolution that National Volunteer Week, “Celebrating People in Action,” be observed by the school system during the week of April 10–16. The Board expressed appreciation to the many volunteers—parents, community and business partners, and students helping other students—for their dedicated service to education and MCPS students. Three elementary schools, three middle schools, three high schools, and one special education center that accumulate the most hours of volunteer service will be presented with the Outstanding Volunteer Program Award at the MCPS Back-to-School Fair on August 27. Read the resolution.

About the Board of Education
   Montgomery County Board of Education: Mr. Christopher S. Barclay, president; Ms. Shirley Brandman, vice president. Members: Ms. Laura Berthiaume, Dr. Judy Docca, Mr. Michael Durso, Mr. Phil Kauffman, Ms. Patricia O’Neill, and Mr. Alan Xie, 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 countywide but run at-large or from the Board district in which they reside. 

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